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Château de Brézé has a long and storied history, first being mentioned in texts in 1068, lauded by King René of Anjou in the 15th century and served at all the royal courts. In 1957, when the AOC of Saumur Champigny was established, the owner of Château de Brézé refused to be part of the appellation, saying that his estate's vineyards were the best and deserved an appellation all their own. And he was probably right. Unfortunately, the wines from those exceptional vineyards were terrible. Lucky for us, the winery sold in 2009 to Le Comte de Colbert, who recruited Arnaud Lambert from nearby Domaine de Saint Just to make the wine. He changed the vineyards over to organic farming and began producing truly stellar wines worthy of their source. The 2012 Château de Brézé Clos David is all estate-grown Chenin Blanc raised in stainless steel to preserve freshness. It has the slightly-oxidized note of a great White Burgundy and a lovely richness that allows it to pair with a variety of foods.

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Thursday
Oct132005

Life: A Bowl of Cherries!

2003 was a vintage in Burgundy unlike any in memory, thanks to the ferocious heat wave. The wines are often very different than in a typical Burgundy vintage. This left some growers in a dilemma. If their wine did not fit their style, either they had to change their style for the vintage, or they had to take a financial loss and bulk out the wine. I was most interested when Daniel Johnnes, sommelier and importer, approached me in May with an offer for a 2003 Nuits St. George, Premier Cru, at a great price. He told me that one producer in Nuits St. Georges had had several barrels of a single vineyard Premier Cru that just did not fit into their desired style, and that they were interested in selling it in bulk. Of course, it would be labeled as a negociant wine, even though it was all from a single one of their Premier Cru vineyards. When I visited Burgundy in June and tasted the wine, I was delighted to find a beautiful Nuits St. Georges. The 2003 Nuits St. Georges, 1er Cru, La Cerisière ($29.99) is big and rich, with ripe fruit and a brawny charm reminiscent of the old Jules Belin style. A fat and luscious nose is followed by rich blackberry notes on the palate and lots of grip. We grabbed all there was, both for our Signature Red Club and for our retail customers. I felt like a cherry-picker, which is fitting. After all, when you get a chance to be a cherry picker, and get the perfect thing, the next thing you want to be is a Cerisière (a cherry seller). At these prices I do not expect the wine to be around for long. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg

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