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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

Prosecco with Power!

I have been looking for a Prosecco producer that we could import directly for a few years. Last April in Italy I met with the very young bother-and-sister team of Silvano and Alberta Follador. We didn’t even taste their wines when we first met. They just wanted to meet me before we even thought about the wine. We liked each other immediately. In today’s world of fast-paced business it was very refreshing to see that producers were more interested in who was going to take care of their wines rather than how much we were going to buy. I walked away hoping that they made wine that was at the very least good. A month later we tasted the samples and YOWSA! We were stunned by the quality; I have never tasted better Prosecco than these. Dumfounded by the quality, humbly I asked for the price list knowing the quality and the stunning package would demand some outrageous price. The prices matched their personalities, however, humble and honest. Prosecco, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is a grape, just like chardonnay or cabernet. As a grape, it can be made into sparkling, semi-sparkling, still or sweet wine. The towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are the center of the DOC production and lay about an hour to the northwest of Venice. In the Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene Brut ($10.99), the first thing you notice is the incredibly perfumed nose. Beautifully balanced and delicate, it is followed by refined fruits with hints of yeasty complexity without being ponderous. This sparkling wine is a perfect aperitivo—long, pure and refreshing. It makes you want to drink glass after glass. The Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ($10.99) has a slightly higher dosage, and that gives this wine a slight more heft on the palate. Prosecco is generally made at the Extra Dry level, where its creamier feel gives more body to the generally slightly lower alcohol levels of 11.5%. It is truly an exceptionally versatile food wine! The Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Superiore di Cartizze” ($17.99) comes from the most famous “vineyard zone” in the region, a 266-acre slope framed by the villages of San Pietro Barbozza, Saccol and Santo Stefano (from where the Folladors hail). Cartizze traditionally has a higher dosage than the rest of the wines, but its increased power carries it off well. More complexity, broader on the palate, richer flavors, this is certainly a marvelous match for spicy cuisine. Although we weren’t originally given any samples of the Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Sui Lieviti” Frizzante ($10.99), when I saw it in their catalog I had to ask about it. Silvano said, “Oh that’s just what we drink locally here.” I said that’s what I’d like to drink here! It is Prosecco fermented in the bottle and not disgorged, so there are still some dead yeast cells in the wine that make it a little cloudy. If you are a beer drinker, it is sort of like a Hefe-Weizen Prosecco! Enjoy! —Greg St.Clair

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