On the Road – Distance: 111km I 69miles I Elevation: 2179km I 7149ft
Heading north up through the foothills of the Alps we rode into the Drȏme region. The mountains loomed all around us as we aimed for Chichilianne, a tiny French town nestled in a valley between the Vercors and Écrins National Parks. The cycling today was spectacular with picture postcard Alpine scenery and a nice balance of climbing and descending. Distance wise it was a fair undertaking though and as a result the cumulative elevation gain made this a tough day with Col de Menée an iconic climb to finish with.
Chichilianne is a commune in the Isère department. Set in a 14th-century building, Château de Passières, our hotel, is located at the foot of Mont Aiguille in the Nature Park of Vercors. The hotel is a classic. A stunning building, albiet slightly run down and presided over by two doting sisters.
White Châteauneuf-du-Pape is produced by excluding the red varieties and only using the six permitted white varieties. Grenache blanc and Roussanne provide fruitiness and fatness to the blend while Bourboulenc, Clairette and Picpoul add acidity, floral and mineral notes. Some white Châteauneuf-du-Pape are meant to age and tend to develop exotic aromas and scents of orange peel after 7–8 years.
Field Notes: Hannibal
Once Hannibal’s army was across the Rhone he sent three hundred of his crack Numidian cavalry to reconoitre the surrounding areas. The Roman Consul Cornelius Scipio, who had just landed in Massilia (modern Marseille) did the same and sent some of his scouts north. Scipio was at the mouth of the Rhone and on his way to Spain to intercept Hannibal. It was a surprise to both cavalry forces when they met in a fierce but brief engagement. This was the first clash between Rome and Carthage in the second Punic War and the Romans had the better of the skirmish, losing less troops and forcing the Numidians to flee back to camp.