If it wasn’t so incredibly gruelling, the route the Tour de France is taking this year would make a lovely trip around some of France’s key winemaking regions. Following some of the stages, you could start in the Loire, travelling west to east into Sancerre territory, before jumping over to the nation’s alpine south-eastern reaches and meandering through Beaujolais and the Rhone Valley – finishing in Languedoc-Roussillon.
After all that riding you’d certainly be thirsty – luckily you had the forethought to collect some bottles along your route. So as you stare out over the Mediterranean coastline, ignoring your saddle sores and aching legs, which wines are resting in your panniers?
Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Château du Cléray
From the very western end of the Loire Valley, Muscadet has been produced near the city of Nantes for several hundred years. Château du Cléray operates one of the oldest estates in the heart of the Nantes vineyard region, the vineyards are planted in clay and sandy soils over granite and schist bedrock. The palate shows a good minerality and a touch of richness, with citrus and apple fruit and notes of lime blossom and mint, reflecting the influence that the Atlantic Ocean has on this region.
Sancerre Rosé, Domaine de Terres Blanches
Drifting over to the other side of the Loire Valley, Sancerre is famous for Sauvignon Blanc. But there is more to this region than its whites. Great summer rosé does not need to only come from Provence. Sancerre offers a different style of rosé with wines bursting with red fruit flavours as made from Pinot Noir. This example is a light and refreshing wine that can be drunk by itself or paired with salads – keeping you trim for southern stretch.
Moulin-à-Vent, Château des Jacques
Arriving in Beaujolais why would you not have opted for one of the best quality examples on the market – Château des Jacques practices a traditional Pinot Noir vinification for its Gamay grapes and the wines undergo barrel ageing. This is a very elegant expression of Moulin-à-Vent, with aromas of rose, peony and subtle minerals, from one of the most prestigious properties in the Crus Beaujolais.
Côtes du Rhône Blanc Vin Gourmand, Dauvergne Ranvier
Riding in the Rhône you’ll be enjoying a moderate continental climate with a slight Mediterranean influence. The Mistral, a cold dry wind blowing from the north with great force for most of the year, dominates the continental climate. Yet with the weather warm and a need for something cool, we would blame you for picking up a white. Located not far from Valence, this wine offers great value for money. In return for that cash, you get freshness, crisp acidity along with ripe stone fruit flavours and good structure.
Sainte Marie des Crozes ‘Les Pipelettes’ Corbières Rouge
Arriving for your final stop, you’ll sure have lots to talk about - if you get called a pipelette by the locals you may have overdone it. Pipelettes means chatterboxes, but in this case, it stands for juicy red wine from the small estate Ste Marie des Crozes where winemaker Christelle Alias grows her vines in a biodynamic way. An easy-drinking red wine that offers excellent value for money. Each sip ends with soft velvety tannins, sure to soothe your weary soul.
So while you won’t be catching me peddling through Provence or riding in the Rhône any time soon, I can still enjoy my very own tour. Wine often has the power to transport you around the world and French winemakers are especially adept at enabling this. Terroir, a wine’s sense of place, is the basis of the French wine system, the models for how wines are made and regulated across the nation. Which wines would you pick, let us know in the comments?
You may also like: What is Terroir?
You can find more information about the French wines we stock here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to bespoke training.