Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tour de France food and drink Stages 6 to 8: a new wine

My time shifted viewing of the Tour de France continues (yes I know it finished weeks ago) as the race approaches the Pyrenees so what can we enjoy to accompany it?

Passing over the viticulturally barren Stage 5  we head south-west where the route of Stage 6 between Arpajon-sur-Cere and Montaubon passed jus south of the town of Cahors which was one of my father's favourite intermediate destinations on the rambling routes we took south to reach our holiday house near Perpignan when I was small.  Cahors, I seem to recall had a famous market and one of the famous things they sold in their famous market were hats.  Famous hats.  Now the Legatus has no interest in hats whatsoever and is deeply suspicious of men who wear them.  They are nearly, but not quite, as dubious as men who wear bow ties with suits or coloured waistcoats (Old Glory UK springs to mind here). There is always that faint air of narcissistic foppishness about them.  "Hello! I am going to wear an eccentric hat in the hope that no-one notices that I am actually really boring.!"

The Cahors hat is far from foppish, however, is made from the wool of Pyrenean sheep and has something of the hunter about it.  When we used to travel up high into the Pyrenees in the sixties we sometimes used to see isolated houses with bearskins pinned to them, as the diminishing bear population was still being hunted,  No doubt such hunters wore Cahors hats.  It looks not unlike the English Civil War Montero but probably should be worn while striding up the foothills of the Pyrenees heading for the Spanish border while accompanies by a large dog from Belle and Sebastien as you out fox the pursuing Nazis (or Germans as we are now not allowed to call them).

Anyway, enough of hats and on to the real contribution of Cahors to world civilisation; it's black, Malbec dominated red wine.  Unlike the Languedoc wine which was grown in my childhood, the Cahors always had an air of quality.  I  had my first glass down there when I was six or seven and even at that age I could tell the difference between it and the mouth puckering Corbières from further east.  My father used to stock up on the way down so we didn't have to buy the local stuff when we got to the house.  I got this one at about one third off in Sainsbury's and it is still traditional enough to sport a cork.  Surprisingly fruity with blackcurrants as well as blackberries and a bit of oak, A bargain for £5.50.  Probably should have had porc aux prunes with it but no time to cook much this year so more saucisson and cornichons.

Julian Alaphilippe gets the white jersey from the splendid Elsa Boirie (left)  He is standing on a box and her hips are still higher off the ground than his. 

Stages 7 and 8 took the Tour right down to the gates of the Pyrenees and growing down there is the Tannat grape, which these days is popular in the New World as well.  The Tannat is the principal grape of a wine I have never had before: Madiran.

I had this with French Pyrenean ham and more cornichons, inevitably.  No doubt the people who produce this wear Cahors hats.

This was a good buy from Tesco at about 25% off, taking it down to under £5 a bottle.  It was certainly unusual; tasting like a claret that had been produced in the Southern Rhone.  Still, an old style wine with  a lot of character for the price.

Stage 7

Next we will hop over the Spanish border for the Legatus' signature dish: alubias rojas de tolosa or, as it is know to my family, sausage splat.

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