See the wine trade in nothing but Lycra

As a group of wine trade cyclists gear up for this year’s fund-raising challenge for The Benevolent, we look back at the Lycra-clad participants from charity rides of the past.

As previously reported by the drinks business, Mentzendorff managing director Andrew Hawes has orchestrated a 350km bicycling challenge in aid of The Benevolent, and the riders will set off next week.

Among them will be me, as I swap the sodden streets of London for the sun-baked terrain of Tuscany – the ride takes us from the Maremma to Sienna, and has been dubbed the Giro di Toscana.

However, this is far from the first event of its type, and Hawes has in fact organised nine previous ordeals, all of which have been charity fundraising initiatives featuring plenty of punctures, demanding ascents and embarrassing attire.

With that in mind, we have revisited some of the moments from Benevolent bike rides of the past, so feast your eyes on the wine trade in close-fitting clothing, but please, for every ogle, the drinks trade charity wants a donation… so visit my fundraising page here.

Andrew Hawes in June 2013 for the Tour of the Douro (starting with Roda in Rioja, ending with Taylor’s in Porto)

And here he is in 2015, leading the Tour de L’Oc, with me in the background and Chris Matthews from Berry Bros & Rudd

Before that, in June 2011, Hawes launched a set of wine trade cyclists from Bollinger’s base camp in Aÿ, taking them to Chapoutier in Tain l’Hermitage, via Chanson in Beaune

As for the Tour de L’Oc, that began at the Chapoutier HQ in Tain l’Hermitage and finished at Banyuls, via Mount Ventoux – a legendary ascent for cyclists

Ahead of the big climb, Hawes talked us through the route

Then we set off, and here’s me nearing the summit

Finally, at the top, with James McKenna, former sales director at Mentzendorff. Ventoux was the toughest climb to date, with 21km of unbroken ascending.

Turning back the clock, here’s Mentzendorff prestige sales director Alan Montague-Dennis on 2007’s Benevolent ride to Bollinger

And here are the cyclists from that same year, with the Benevolent van in the background

The conditions were warm and sunny for our arrival at Bollinger

Unlike the following year, when it rained almost ceaselessly over northern France – even though it was May

As you can also see here, near Calais

And it was still grey when the cyclists reached Champagne Ayala

Moving forward, and further south, conditions for the Tour de l’Oc were good, if a touch too hot, although the WSET’s Ian Harris battled on

Helped at times by James McKenna

Four days and almost 500km later, the Tour de l’Oc had reach its finishing point: the seaside town of Collioure

…where some of the riders chose to cool off for the sake of this snap.

Here’s another finish line, this time in 2011 at Chapoutier’s HQ in Tain, where the ride came to its completion with a lavish dinner laid on by Michel atop the hill of Hermitage

And this was the view

Finally, here’s a giant cheque from the 2007 ride for The Benevolent – although just a small part of the £100,000 raised by these rides over the past 19 years

Now, these rides have done so much to raise funds for The Benevolent, but the charity still needs your help, so, to sponsor this year’s ride, please visit my fundraising page here.

The first Mentzendorff Charity Ride commenced in 2005 with a route taking participants from Calais to Champagne to mark the arrival of Champagne Ayala into the Bollinger Family Group (SJB). The theme of Mentzendorff’s charity rides has continued to focus on their family-owned producers.

Since 2005, there have been nine Mentzendorff Charity Rides, visiting some stunning winery locations including Bodegas Roda in Rioja, Domaine Chanson in Burgundy, and Taylor’s Port in the Douro Valley.

The most recent ride took place in 2015, riding from M. Chapoutier’s base in Tain-l’Hermitage in the Northern Rhône via Mont Ventoux to Collioure on the Spanish border. All nine rides collectively have raised well in excess of £100,000 for The Benevolent.

Taking in the poppies during the Tour of the Douro

The timeline for Mentzendorff / Benevolent bike rides of the past can be seen below:

  • 2005 (Sept):  Calais to Ayala
  • 2006 (May):  Calais to Ayala
  • 2007 (May):  Calais to Bollinger
  • 2008 (May):  Calais to Bollinger
  • 2009 (May):  Calais to Chanson (Beaune) via Bollinger
  • 2010 (May):  Calais to Bollinger
  • 2011 (June):  Bollinger to Chapoutier via Chanson
  • 2013 (June):  Tour of the Douro (Roda in Rioja, to Ribera del Duero, to Porto)
  • 2015 (June):  Tour de L’Oc (Chapoutier N.Rhone to Chapoutier Banylus, including climbing Mount Ventoux)
  • 2019 (June): Tour di Toscana – follow the upcoming tour on Instagram @mentzendorff_co using #MentzGdT, as well as on this website.

Read more


  • That’s my bike (in the hands of Matthieu Barrière), which I’ve used on every Benevolent bike ride since 2005, and daily for nineteen years…

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