It’s nearly July and that means Tour de France time. Here at culture, we think that’s the perfect excuse to indulge in some French cheese and wine, and it turns out we’re definitely not alone in that thought.
Will Frischkorn, co-owner of two Cured cheese and wine shops in Boulder, Colo., knows a thing or two about this monster race that spans more than three sweltering weeks in the dead of summer. A former pro cyclist, he competed on the Tour for Team Garmin in 2008. During his racing days, he and his wife Coral lived in Girona, Spain, where they grew more passionate about cheese and wine and adored the small specialty food shops they frequented. When Frischkorn retired from the sport, the couple moved to Boulder and pursued their dream of running a food business. In August 2011, they opened Cured, and the following summer, Frischkorn introduced a fun culinary concept that combined his loves: the “Cured de France.”
Cheeses and wines are carefully selected based on the various regions the cyclists ride through in the Tour. Over the past five years, the “Cured de France” has been a hit with Frischkorn’s customers (many of whom happen to be cyclists—no surprise, given Boulder’s reputation as one of America’s fittest cities). Read on to check out this year’s pairings!
Despite its name, this year’s Tour actually kicks off in Düsseldorf, Germany. A pairing of Alex—an “incredible” washed-rind Alpine wheel from southern Germany that’s “dense, creamy, fruity, and rich with umami”—and “the hugely guilty” Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock beer, is appropriate.
The first wine in this year’s Cured de France is Domaine Lelievre’s “edgy, nervy” Gris de Toul Rose. The wine, which is produced in Lucey, France, is fitting given the riders are racing in the Grand Est region during this time. It’s paired with a classic Burgundian washed-rind Trou de Cru, “a rich, umami laden nugget of joy.”
The race moves deep into Burgundy country, so only a guilty pairing of Paul Pernot’s opulent 2015 Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay and a demi Brillat-Saverin triple crème will do. Frischkorn describes the baby Brillats as “perfect . . . luscious and creamy,” and he names Paul Pernot as one of Cured’s favorite Puligny-Montrachet producers.
For the midway point of the race, the cyclists fly to the Aquitaine region in western France, home to its largest city, Bordeaux. Cured is serving up Chateau Couronneau’s Merlot Bordeaux Rouge with the customers’ favorite sheep-milk Tomme Brulee from famed affineur Rodolphe le Meunier. “His Tomme Brulee is akin to Ardi Gasna, but unlike any sheep’s milk cheese we’ve ever experienced in its refinement,” explains Frischkorn. “Chateau Couronneau is one of the few biodynamic wineries in Bordeaux, and their Merlot-based red is an example of the incredible values that Bordeaux can offer when you hunt for them.”
The pairing for this stage happens to be Frischkorn’s personal favorite. Bleu de Berger, the lone blue cheese on this year’s Cured de France, is paired with Château Combel-La-Serre’s Cahors Malbec. Made with Pyrenean sheep’s milk, Bleu de Berger is “beautiful [and a] slightly more restrained blue than, say, a Roquefort.” Meanwhile, this particular Malbec possesses a “bright, feminine, super energetic style” and actually works remarkably well with blues.
“From time to time, there is a region whose cheeses we just can’t get here in the States in good condition,” says Frischkorn. Therefore, this stage showcases St. Albans, a French-style goat milk cheese from Vermont Creamery, alongside Paul-Henri Thillardon’s “stunningly elegant” Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais.
With the race in its final days, Abbaye de Tamie, one of Cured’s beloved funky cheeses from the Savoie region, is matched with one of the shop’s favorite summer wines, Jean Masson et Fils’ Apremont Traditionnelle. “Think of mountain flowers and minerality captured in a bottle, and then think about finding another cold bottle of it quickly,” says Frischkorn.
As the cyclists pedal their way into the heart of Paris on their last day, kick back and enjoy some Fougerus, a fern-adorned Brie-style cheese with—what else?—celebratory champagne. “Fougerus could be one of the most elegant wheels you’ll ever drop on your table,” says Frischkorn. It’s also one of the wheels that Cured imports specifically for this event. Champagne Sanger‘s Voyage 360 is the complementary bubbly of choice, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Cured sells the packages for $50 a stage, or $350 for the entire Tour package. They can be purchased in-store or ordered for shipping within Colorado only.