By Rick Riozza

I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since we last wrote on this 3 week world class bicycling sporting event that traverses the entirety of France. This tournament has always been a friend to this column as we’ve covered its path that forever travels through the famous French vineyards—and we recommend some of those wines that are produced along the way. Vive! La Tour de France!

“Riders — start your pedals.” As we quote from The Sporting News, “In many ways, cycling across Europe sounds like the classic stereotype for someone that just graduated college. They are going to find themselves and travel the world.”

“It’s both inspiring and a dream for many. For the 176 riders in the 2023 Tour de France, it’s also a reality. This year’s ride is already underway, starting July 1st and will crown a champion on July 23rd. This year will be slightly longer than last (where it began in Denmark), commencing in the Basque city of Bilbao, and then it’s 23 days of endless intrigue until one rider claims victory on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris France.


The majority of the live coverage for the iconic race can be found on Peacock — NBC’s streaming service and on the USA Network Replays, along with certain live stages, will be split between USA Network and NBC.

Viewers looking for other options can watch the race on the NBC Sports app or Fubo, which will show the USA and NBC broadcasts and offers a free trial to new subscribers.

Of course, as we are wont to do on this fabulous French trail, we wish to highlight some of the most famous wines produced along the path of the 3-week course. Every year is a different course: some courses take French routes predominantly north and south, others east and west, and at other times there are courses that go this way and that.

For the lover of French things, for the wine enthusiast, for the gourmet, and/or the world traveler, the scenery is majestic. All courses, no matter what year, will traverse the high mountains, the bucolic low valleys, the pristine vineyards the beautiful coast lines, where the cyclists will take their equipment to the fastest speeds possible. It’s daring stuff unfortunately, and occasionally, there are crashes and small disasters. For certain there are spills & thrills, mais ma cherie, it’s all in the game!

So let us again play this aspect of the game of wine and find some wonderful wine to match the scene, to taste the vineyard region and to toast and to cheer on the cyclists and their teams!

So this 2023 Tour de France course pretty much takes an eastern direction through the middle of the country, finishing, of course, in Paris! Only for the second time in its 110 years, has the Tour raced in the Basque city of Bilbao—as we mentioned above, where this year’s Tour began its first stage this past July 1st.

So before we get to dig in on the French vineyards, we get to highlight some of the famous wine coming from this ancient Basque region: Txakoli (also called Txakolina) is pronounced “Choc-koe-lee or Choc-koe-leen-ah”. It is the traditional wine in this region of northern Spain. It is a cool, chilly region characterized by mists, rain, and verdant green hillside vineyards. Many of the vineyards overlook the tumultuous Cantabrian Sea.

Aside from the pronunciation of its exotic name, Txakoli is unique in the manner in which the wine is served. By Basque tradition, the wine is poured into tall, flat-bottomed glasses from 8 to 10 inches in the air: You’ve seen this before in movies and on YouTube. This action agitates the wine, enhancing Txakoli’s youthful effervescence. It’s a very charismatic wine.

Txakoli has natural acidity from the high elevation of the hillside vineyards. Combined with its moderate alcohol (under 11.5% abv) and light body. You will often find a delicious salty minerality in this wine, depending on how close the vineyards are located to the sea; it is a wine that pairs magically with seafood and fish.

You can find a bottle of the 2022 Etxaniz Txakolina Getariako for around $20 at Ralphs Market. Getting 90 points from Wine Spectator, “A minerally white, with generous flint and saline underscoring the ripe, juicy white cherry, tangerine, and pear fruit and accents of verbena and fresh tarragon.” Who doesn’t want to try this?!

On the 7th stage, (the entire three week Tour is made of of around 21 “start & finish stages”), the race gets to Bordeaux—now is that one of our most favorite wine regions in the world—or what!

No need to describe or explain Bordeaux to you savvy readers—let’s just get to a great value recommendation of a red Bordeaux one can enjoy immediately without aging in your cellar—or underneath you stairs.

The 2019 Chevalier du Grand Robert Haut-Medoc, around $20 or less at Ralphs, is one of the best Bordeaux deals around. It shows aromas and flavors of roasted berries and stone fruits, pressed flowers. It’s a dry, but fruity medium bodied Bordeaux, with a nice finish of cranberry, nuts, cocoa, black tea and cedar shavings with medium tannins.

Thinking of a nice refreshing white Bordeaux to handle our desert summer heat, look for the 2018 Chateau Argadens Bordeaux Blanc, around $15. Getting 90 points from Wine Enthusiast, “With a spicy nose that is followed through on the palate, this is a full-bodied, wood-aged wine. Nutmeg zing combines easily with the ripe yellow-fruit and lime flavors.”

Dunno about you, but we’ve already run out of time & space here. Let’s follow the Tour’s path again next time as we travel and taste through the Rhone Valley and Burgundy. Cheers!