TdF Stage 20: One for the Time Lords

We were astonished to see Ramūnas Navardauskas trending on Twitter, in large part because we didn’t think anyone outside Lithuania would be able to spell it. He deserved to trend after winning yesterday’s rainy Stage 19 ahead of John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff. Tour leader Vincenzo Nibali had to move quickly to avoid a crash within the last 3km that took out Peter Sagan, among others, and left many of the sprinters’ teams in disarray at a critical moment, but the accident meant no one could catch Navardauskas. British cyclist David Millar, who intended to make this year’s Tour his last and was beside himself when Garmin-Sharp left him off the team in favour of Navardauskas, was effusive in his praise of the Lithuanian rider: “Amazing. Ramunus aka Honey Badger was my replacement. Job well done. Legend.” Honey badger? Maybe we don’t want to know.

stage 20

Stage 20 is a individual time trial ahead of Sunday’s finale in Paris, and teams hoping their sprinter has a chance to come in first in the final sprint on the Champs-Élysées may try to save a bit of energy for Sunday. For other teams, there will be no reason to hold back, and the time trial will be the last place they can put their mark on this year’s Tour de France. It’s a stage for the time lords — or, er, the time trialists. Meanwhile, Vincenzo Nibali’s only concern will be staying on his bike and out of harm’s way until he stands on the podium in Paris, but as yesterday’s stage showed, that isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Today’s time trial begins in Bergerac, where yesterday’s stage ended, and ends in Périgueux, so  today we will return to the Bergerac region and explore Montravel. We mentioned Montravel yesterday as one of the AOC wine-producing areas in Bergerac. It’s both an early 20th-century AOC area, with its white wines granted the appellation in 1937, and the most recent, as its reds were only granted an AOC in 2001.

By paysbergerac [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By paysbergerac [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Four Montravel AOC Wines

The Montravel AOC wines consist of three white wines and one red. Montravel AOC is a dry white wine, Côtes de Montravel is a sweet white wine, Haut-Montravel is a sweet wine or liquoreux, and Montravel Rouge is a dry wine and Montravel’s only AOC red wine.

Montravel: These white wines are between 10-13% abv and should contain at least 4 grams of residual sugar per litre. They can only be made of Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle grapes, with the Sauvignon grape predominating, although a small proportion of Ondenc and Chenin Blanc grapes are also used by some producers. These wines are barrel fermented, and should be drunk young, although they can mature in bottle for a year or two. The white flower aromas and smoothness of the wine are often praised.

Côtes de Montravel: Whereas the grapes for Montravel AOC wine are grown on flat ground, Côtes de Montravel are grown on slopes. They are made of the same grape varieties as Montravel, and as they are only slightly sweet (moelleaux), they are the middle ground between the dry Montravel whites and the syrupy sweetness of Haut-Montravel wines. They contain 12-15% abv and 8-54 grams of sugar per litre. Again the aromas are floral and complex, and Côtes de Montravel makes a good aperitif. They can be matured for several years.

Haut-Montravel: Haut-Montravel is a sweet white wine made from over-matured or raisined grapes. If those grapes have noble rot, they can be labeled liquoreux. The grapes must be hand-harvested in several passes or tries to ensure only grapes at the correct level of ripeness (or only botrysised grapes) are picked. The resulting wine should be 12-15% abv and contain 8-54 grams residual sugar per litre. These wines mature very well and make excellent dessert wines.

Montravel Rouge: Montravel Rouge must be made of at least 50% Merlot grapes with lesser amounts of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Côt (Malbec). It must be matured for at least 18 months, with some ageing potential. It is best drunk after 2 and 10 years, depending on vintage. It has an intense colour, and is dense with a good structure and hints of fruit, vanilla and even a trace of what’s sometimes described as a savoury grilled flavour.

As we mentioned yesterday, the AOC regulations actually stipulate that the bottles must have the Latin phrase In Monte Revelationem (“on the mountain I had a revelation”), the phrase that gave Montravel its name, engraved on them.

montravel bottle

 

A Look at Three Producers

Château Puy-Servain
http://www.puyservain.com/
Owner Daniel Hecquet is one of the most passionate and well-regarded oenologists and wine-producers in Bergerac, producing Vin de Bergerac, Montravel Rouge, Montravel Blanc, Haut Montravel and Pécharmant. Hecquet offers some of the highest quality, freshest dry whites in the region, but he also lobbied energetically to convince AOC regulators to give Montravel Rouge the appellation. An internship at Château d’Yquem in his youth means he has a deep understanding and love of sweet wines, something he brings to the sweet wines he creates for Château Puy-Servain. The Château’s brands include Château Puy Servain, Château Calabre, Château Haut Sarthe, Daniel Olivier, Daniel Frère, Taïac, Prestige des Bertranoux, and Domaine des Bertranoux.

Can you find these wines in the UK?
The Haut-Montravel sweet wines of Château Puy-Servain are sold at Jeroboam’s, London, but we haven’t seen any of the other wines available for sale. They are available in most other European countries and in the U.S., however, and it wouldn’t surprise us to find they were also available in somewhere in the U.K.

Château le Raz
http://www.le-raz.com
The Barde family has been making line on pieces of land in the area near the château since 1450, but it wasn’t until 1958 that they purchased and began restoring the château itself. The family produces Haut Montravel, dry white Bergerac wines, Bergerac rosés, and both Bergerac and Montravel reds on 70 hectares located in Saint Méard de Gurçon.

Can you find these wines in the UK?
We’ve seen these listed as available from Elixir Wines Ltd in London, Sommelier’s Choice Ltd in Kent, and Trout Wines in Nether Wallop, Stockbridge, Hampshire.

Château Laroque
http://chateau-laroque.jimdo.com/
Château Laroque is a 10-hectare biodynamic vineyard near St Antoine de Breuilh in the heart of the Montravel AOC. The reds are strong and tannic, reaching their best between 5 and 12 years of ageing, depending on the vintage. Château Laroque’s Haut-Montravel are known for their perfume and richness, but they also make rosé and even sparkling wine. The family also offers a small bed and breakfast service at the château.

Can you find them in the UK?
Not that we have seen. Let us know if you see any, and we’ll list it here.

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