Christine Austin plans the perfect accompaniments for watching the Yorkshire Grand Départ.
This is the day to wish that you had built up a solid buying relationship with The Wright Wine Company in Skipton. With their car park roped off and reserved for regular customers only, they will have grandstand views of the Tour de France peloton as it races by the shop. Just to help the occasion go with a swing, glasses of fizz will be poured for those regular customers, and there will be Laphroaig and Green Tea Gravlax Salmon nibbles to hand out too.
But not everyone can squeeze into their car park so there are plenty of other opportunities to combine the Grand Départ and a glass of wine over this weekend.
In Leeds, Latitude Wine Merchant in The Calls doesn’t have a position on the route, but they will be following the Tour for the next three weeks by pouring tasting samples of the right drink for each stage. Tonight, between 5pm and 7pm, bottles from Leeds vineyard, Leventhorpe will open for tasting. Tomorrow the focus is on Yorkshire craft beers, followed on Monday by English vineyard Ridgeview and then Calvados, Normandie Cidre and Champagne as the Tour heads across France.
As a direct challenge between the rival qualities of French wine and Yorkshire beer you can join the Latitude team at The Cross Keys on Thursday July 10 when five French wines will be pitted against five Yorkshire beers alongside a five-course meal. Tickets cost £40, ring 0113 2433711 for details.
With thousands of spectators crowding into Otley today to watch the caravan and the Le Tour, local wine merchant David Lawson at Chez Vin recommends a pair of French wines to accompany your picnic. The soft, peachy flavours of Baron de Badassière Viognier 2013 (£7.99) will be perfect, chilled down and served with a pork pie or try the dark cherry fruit of Baron de Badassière Carignan (£7.99) with a steak sandwich.
In Ilkley, Martinez Wine has the crisp, zesty flavours of Domaine Octavie Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (£10.49) from the Loire which will keep palates refreshed during the day, while Ch. Rousseau de Sipian 2005, from the Médoc will provide mellow blackcurrant flavours as the sun goes down and the Spectator Hub packs up for the evening.
The Wright Wine Company in Skipton suggests a break from French wine for the duration of the Tour. Liberator Francophile Chenin Blanc 2012 and Francophile Syrah 2012 (£8.95) both come from Stellenbosch in South Africa, but the wine is made in a decidedly French style and with a large French cockerel on the label, you will still be in the mood for watching Le Tour.
As the cyclists head out of Skipton across some of Yorkshire’s most fabulous scenery, I am looking forward to the Buttertubs Pass, not least for the linguistic challenge this will provide for the French commentators.
When the teams reach Masham, Le Grand Party should be in full swing, featuring local brews Black Sheep and Theakston’s beer, but if you prefer to stick to wine then Bon Coeur (01765 688200) has a special Tour case of wine (£179.88) that will keep your tastebuds busy for the next few weeks. With wines from the key Tour regions of the Loire, Chablis, Rhône and Bordeaux, and fizz from Champagne and England you can keep your options open for celebrations. While the bikes are heading to Harrogate and the end of Stage One, Pedal Power is the only drink to have in your glass. Specially brewed in Harrogate for the Tour it is a light, golden ale and is widely available in shops and pubs.
Alternatively, Harrogate Fine Wine suggests Christian Drouin Cidre de Normandie (£5.49), with a refreshing, lively fruity taste and just 4.5 per cent alcohol.
Just getting themselves into the right mood for the second day of Le Tour, this evening sees Holmfirth Vineyard host a Charity Dinner with TV wine expert, Oz Clarke presenting the wines. This is bound to be a great event. Tickets cost £75, ring 01484 691861 for details.
The streets of York will provide a fabulous background to the start of Stage Two tomorrow, and local merchant Field and Fawcett suggests two wines with a sporting theme, Flying Solo red and white (£8.85) to accompany the day.
With crisp, melon fruit in the white and lively berry fruits in the red, these Languedoc wines will partner a barbecue or just a day in front of the TV.
While you are at Field and Fawcett, pick up some bottles of Crémant de Jura Brut (£16.85) to see you through Stage 11 when the race goes through Jura.
The real highlight of the day will be the long climb up to Holme Moss and Holmfirth Vineyard will be in full swing as Oz Clarke will still be in residence, presenting a range of French and English wines from 10.30am (£35).
The vineyard has a prime view of Holme Moss so you will be able to watch the teams battle up the hill, while you sip a glass of local wine. There is a new white dome structure in the middle of the vineyard, so you won’t even get blown off the hillside while watching the teams.
After the Yorkshire stages and London, then the teams head to France and it is fun to match the region to the wine.
Wines from Jura, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy and Rhône are all available at our local wine merchants, so pop in and pick up a few bottles. But there is one way of keeping a Yorkshire theme going throughout Le Tour. James Wood was born and raised in Yorkshire and even worked for a time at Martinez Fine Wine in ilkley. After training to be a winemaker, he is now making wine in the Ventoux region of France, close to some of the regular routes of the Tour de France.
His wine, Cuvée le Gentleman 2011, from Domaine Vintur is a Grenache-dominated Rhône blend and it packs dark red fruits, spice and a sprinkling of southern French herbs. Available by mail-order from www.winedirect.co.uk at £13.95 this wine will make sure that Yorkshire wins all stages of Le Tour.