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Team TEW Rides the South of France

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Team TEW Rides the South of France

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On Sunday, a few of us rode La Provençale Sainte-Victoire, a 95KM ride in Provence. A stunning course that included three pretty serious climbs (totaling 4,130 feet), and some harrowing descents, it was the most beautiful 95K that I have ever ridden, scented with lilacs, lavender and shrub Provencal herbs. And while my training had been pretty threadbare, I dug the paced commitment required to reach the top of Sainte Victoire, Côte de Bèdes and Col du Sambuc (a 6.5 mile climb). The guys fared a bit faster, pace-lining with some winter training to their legs. But we all loved riding in France, where cycling is a revered spectator sport. 

Riding up or down, there wasn't much in the way of flats. But the sun was shining and the stubborn head wind never let up. We rode by Picasso's home. We climbed up Sainte-Victoire. There were olive trees and red poppies. And some stunning rock face at the top of each peak.

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0415tewrides-c.jpg#asset:9153Atop the first climb, Sainte Victoire

0415tewrides-d.jpg#asset:9154Rain & Gigi at the finish

0415tewrides-e.jpg#asset:9155In the vineyards with Cedric Gravier at Domaine la Suffrene in Bandol, overlooking the Mediterranean with soils of stoney calcareous clay.

"My grandfather, at the beginning of the '60's started to plant vines, so it's all new first generation," said Cedric, "which is very important for the soil. It's very pure because it was only forests before." With a total of almost 60ha, 30ha of which are planted on the slopes pictured here, Cedric farms organically.

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"The Bandol area is one of the oldest appellations in Provence, and it was known for the reds because we have terroir for strong, big reds that you can age, which isn't common in our region," he said. "It's a big shame for us that rosé took their place. It's good because we're selling it, but for the future, we don't want to forget the reds. It was the beginning of the appellation. But for the rosé, we have big typicity now. Rosé is now a full wine." Required to age the reds for a minimum of one and a half years, winemakers in Bandol cannot release rosé until March 1st. "We have rosé made with mourvedre, which needs more time in the winter to express itself. It's very closed. In the Côte de Provence, you can release in December, which is very soon after harvest."

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"You don't have to be afraid to drink one year old rosé," said Cedric, "because it's really wonderful. It's another problem with most of the people who are afraid to drink it. I really prefer it one or two years after, but it's quite impossible to sell it like that. After three or four years, it's less aromatic and more complex. It's a different wine. All people want a younger vintage because they think it's not good if it's an older vintage."

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0415tewrides-i.jpg#asset:9159On the road in Gigondas with Philippe Cartoux of Domaine des Espiers and Marc Pichon of Anne Pichon 

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0415tewrides-l.jpg#asset:9162Riding Gigondas with PC, TB, Marc Pichon, KU & JP

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0415tewrides-m.jpg#asset:9163Philippe Cartoux of Domaine des Espieres with his Great Cuvee of Rhone Valley for the T. Edward Bike Tour

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0415tewrides-n.jpg#asset:9164Dinner at À la Maison Les Mimosas with the Italians, including Gianfranco Alessandria, Mauro Veglio and Silvia Altare

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0415tewrides-o.jpg#asset:9165#DrinkBigOrGoHome - Elio Altare La Morra 1995 & Mauro Veglio Vigneto Castelletto 2010

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0415tewrides-p.jpg#asset:9166In the cellar at Chateau Coussin

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0415tewrides-q.jpg#asset:9167Olivier Sumeire of Chateau Coussin

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0415tewrides-y.jpg#asset:9175Anabelle & Olivier Sumeire

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0415tewrides-z.jpg#asset:9176Mauro Veglio with TB

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0415tewrides-aa.jpg#asset:9177Frisbee at Chateau Coussin

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0415tewrides-bb.jpg#asset:9178Bruna & Gianfranco Alessandria

For more on Domaine des Espiers, read here.

For more on Anne Pichon, read here.

For more on Domaine la Suffrene in Bandol, read here.

For more on Chateau Coussin, read here.

For more on Mauro Veglio, read here.

For more on Gianfranco Alessandria, read here.

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