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We all know France as the world’s cultural heartland of the wine industry. A variety of French regions produce excellent wines. Due to its individual geography each wine region produces wine with a different character, taste and colour. What’s on every wine producer’s front of mind is ‘Terroir’. This French word sums up the essence of a wine and how it’s achieved by a mixture of the wine grower’s experience and passion, local weather, growing conditions and the soil that the wine grows in. The name and the region are strictly regulated to ensure that every wine has to conform to certain standard to be called Champagne, Bourgogne or Saint Emilion for example. Here we have highlighted some of the most important French wine regions and how they are linked to another one of France’s most famous exports; the Tour de France.
The Loire Valley is located about 200 kilometres south of Paris. It is best known for the hundreds of chateaux that were built for the royalty and aristocracy of France between 1400 and 1800. Like the castles, wine making has also been around for a long time in the Loire region.
The city of Orléans is famous for Gothic Sainte-Croix Cathedral and its history with Joan of Arc. The region’s capital, Tours is a busy university town with a medieval quarter.
Although a bit smaller than the Bordeaux wine region which is France’s biggest, the Loire has a big variety of wine growing land. Loire wine harvests are very up and down in terms of their success as the climate is very changeable in this part of France.
There are 3 areas within the Loire region where vineyards are located; Upper Loire, Middle Loire and Lower Loire which each area focussing on different grape varieties. Loire wines are generally known for their high acidity, which accounts for a crisp, fresh flavor. It’s known for dry whites such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.
There will be 4 stages fully within Brittany followed by an individual time trial with a finish in Laval near Rennes. After Brittany, the route takes us into the Pays de La Loire with a finish in the town of Laval followed by a start in Tours.
The Loire region is a fabulous place for a cycling holiday. Quiet roads and amazing scenery with frequent stops to sample the local wines and visit the amazing chateaux.
The city of Bordeaux is located in the Gironde department in southwest France. This is the biggest wine producing area in France and many people would say the best.
The most well-known wines that produced here are: Saint Emilion and Medoc. The soil, sunshine and proximity of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers make this area well-suited for wine production. The towns of Libourne and Saint Emilion will host the Tour de France in 2021.
Bordeaux is also host to the crazy Marathon du Medoc every year where the support stations are stocked with red wine.
As in 2020, the 2021 Tour de France finishes with an individual time trial. There are two stages in the Bordeaux area. First up is a stage that comes into the Gironde from the Pyrenees with a finish in Libourne. We think this will be a great opportunity for a sprinter like Sam Bennett. Stage 20 is a relatively long individual time trial from Libourne to Saint Emilion.
How does dressing up, drinking wine and exploring the most famous vineyards of France sound? Perfect? I thought so! Check out the whackiest and booziest Marathon on the race calendar, the 2021 Marathon du Medoc here >>
*Fancy dress is a must 😉
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