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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

Southern California Greats!

Last month Martin and I took a trip down south for a quick tour of a few wineries. This was our first day on our two-day trip. Our first stop was at Garretson Wine Company in Paso Robles. Working in a very industrial looking building, winemaker Matt Garretson is focusing on Rhône-inspired blends from Paso Robles. Our favorite pick from this stop was the 2003 Garretson Red Central Coast Red Blend ($19.99). This would be considered their user-friendly red, which is a blend of 70% syrah, 12% grenache, 10% mourvèdre and 8% viognier. Continuing down south, our next stop was at Domaine Alfred. People were friendly, and the wines were well made. Our favorites included the 2003 Domaine Alfred Edna Valley Chardonnay ($18.99) and the 2002 Domaine Alfred “Califa” Edna Valley Pinot Noir ($39.99). The Chardonnay shows great acidity, freshness and pure fruit, and the Pinot Noir is rich, balanced and pure as well. Both are clean and fresh. No heavy-handed winemaking here. Our next visit was with John Alban at Alban Cellars in Arroyo Grande. Great guy and great visit! Unfortunately the wines are next to impossible to get. We then had a quick visit at Talley and then made our way to Laetitia. Our two picks from Laetitia were the 2004 Laetitia Arroyo Grande Chardonnay ($14.99) and the 2003 Laetitia Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir ($17.99). The Chardonnay is rich, ripe and full in the mouth with hints of sweet pear, honey and lime. The Pinot Noir shows a nice balance between fruit and earth with hints of spicy minerals and red strawberry fruit. After Laetitia our next appointment was with John Nivin of Baileyana. Our favorites included the Chardonnay and Pinot releases under their Grand Firepeak Cuvee label. Located just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Firepeak Vineyard is the first to benefit from the cool maritime breezes funneling in from the Morro Bay. The warm days and cool nights are perfect for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Currently we have the 2002 Baileyana Grand Firepeak Pinot Noir ($29.99) and the 2003 Baileyana Grand Firepeak Chardonnay ($19.99). Both are delicious! —Trey Beffa

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