Yesterday was a hard day for American cyclists, with both Tejay van Garderen and Andrew Talansky involved in crashes. Talansky’s crash came in the sprint finish and was captured by the cameras in bone-crunching detail, but he lost skin rather than time because he was within 1km when he crashed. IAM Cycling’s Martin Elmiger made his team’s first-ever appearance on the podium when he picked up the prize for most combative cyclist, but team leader Mathias Frank crashed, injuring his hip and fracturing his femur. There aren’t that many sports where an athlete keeps going with a broken leg, but Frank actually finished the stage before seeking medical attention. Afterwards he headed off to Geneva for surgery. Forget the prize for most combative — there really should be one for anyone who drags himself to the finish line with those kinds of injuries.
Today’s stage through Lorraine, beginning in Tomblaine and ending in Gérardmer La Mauselaine. It’s a fairly short stage that ends in the first summit finish, where many of the GC contenders (Alberto Contador among them) will try to gain time on their competitors.
Lorraine isn’t considered one of the great wine regions of France, but in fact, it has a long history of wine production. Wine-growing in the region declined by the beginning of the 20th century, after the destruction of many vines by Phylloxera, the movement of the rural population to the cities as industrialisation took hold, increasing competition from the wines of Languedoc-Roussillon, and then the devastation of the First World War. In 1927, grape-growers in Lorraine also found themselves shut out of the Champagne industry, when the delimitation of the Champagne region meant that grapes from Lorraine could no longer be bought for the Champagne industry. It’s hard to believe these days, given how seldom you see wines from Lorraine outside the region, that viticulture began with the Romans and that the region once had more area under vine than neighbouring Alsace.
The most important areas for grape-growing and wine production in Lorraine are the Côtes-de-Meuse (AOVDQS) in the Meuse river valley, the Moselle (AOVDQS), and the Côtes-de-Toul (AOC) in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department/regionin the area around the town of Toul, near Nancy.
The AOC designation for the Côtes de Toul was awarded only in 1998, so things may be beginning to turn around. Only Aubin Blanc (a local variety) and Auxerrois Blanc are allowed in the AOC for white wine, and only Pinot Noir for red wine. For vin gris, the rosé wine which is a specialty of the region and sometimes unappetizingly called “gray wine” in English, only Gamay (the most common grape grown in the AOC) and Pinot Noir may be used as main grapes, with only Aubin Blanc, Auxerrois Blanc and Pinot Meunier allowed in a smaller amount not allowed to exceed 15% combined. A minimum of 10% Pinot Noir must also be used. Vin gris is made with only a quick press that gives juice very little contact with the grape skins and therefore only a light colour, and the resulting wine should be drunk young.
We ran across an educational video about Vin Gris from the Côtes de Toul. If you can understand French, you’ll probably enjoy this; if you don’t, you can at least see the colour of the wine and the traditional glasses for the wine. We regret that Mrs. Winetuned is quite rusty , and Mr. Winetuned only knows enough French to ask you to open the window, so for us it was a bit of a struggle.