Tour de France–Bikes, Bites, Bouteilles

The best view of the Tour de France is surely through a glass of Rhone Rosé from beneath the jagged peaks of the Montmirail that punctuate the southern Rhone course of the 16th stage. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to pull off both simultaneously :). But I’ll take any day

my Chène Bleu Rose and Maillot Jaune (Tuna Crudo dressed accordingly); amazing twilights and breakfasts at La Verrièrre, a remote medieval villa where 60-year-old Grenache and Syrah vines kept my wine glass steeped in spice, character and an ancient monastic wine tradition, syncopated with the modern rhythms of poolside ping pong; and a medieval love story truer than Romeo and Juliet which is being lovingly retold, via the estate’s wine.

Héloise, she of these true-life star-crossed lovers, is commemorated in a blend of predominantly Syrah with a touch of Viognier and Grenache. It’s the elegant yet structured one of the two, and the 2007 bottling with dark and smoky notes shot through with tendrils of fragrant sweet tobacco and bacon, shows she is headed for stellar cellaring potential. Her suitor’s tribute bottling, bearing his name Abèlard, is based on the estate’s 50+ year-old Grenache vines blended with a bit of Syrah, and surprises with its juxtaposition of meaty, red-fruited fleshiness, floral-pomegranate-spice aromatics, and intense concentration. Chène Bleu’s proprietor and vintner Nicole Rolet told us the story that sadly for Heloise and Abelard, the discovery of their illicit love affair was punished with his castration and lives forever apart, connected only by the letters they exchanged until their deaths. So then: it felt that for us the only thing to do was reunite them at the table to marry with our roasted partridge. They tussled playfully, each a delicious partner, neither upstaging the other, each teasing out new nuances of character in the food, the mood and each other as the evening floated into twilight. That felt very, very right.

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