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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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Tuesday
Dec202005

French Regional Wines

This month I would like to share with you two of my favorite French regional wines here at K&L. First, the AOC of Faugéres is a tiny 1800 ha, to the north of Béziers in the foothills of the Cévennes, composed of an outcrop of pure schist that is known for its pungent, intense and concentrated wines. Though plantings are in decline, this is an area in which the carignan can reveal its subtlety, finesse and haunting perfume. The 2003 Château de la Liquière Vieilles Vignes Faugères ($15.99) is a lovely example of what happens when a talented wine maker meets old vines (50 to 100 years old) and great terroir. The old-vine carignan and grenache planted on poor schistous soils yield just a few, intensely flavored grapes that translate into a wine redolent of violets, red and black fruits and notes of garrigue, that intoxicating scent of wild herbs, warm earth and roasted meats. Despite the heat of 2003, the wine is amazingly fresh and balanced on the palate with a fine minerality, elegant tannins and a very long finish. This wine can be cellared mid-term but it so delicious now you’ll soon want to enjoy some with all manner of hearty fare. I would also like to recommend a second wine which hails from the Savoie region of France directly across from the swiss border. The 2004 Chignin Domaine Quenard ($10.99) is composed of a little know varietal known as jacquere, and although somewhat esoteric in nomenclature, I am certain that it is not so in taste or likeability. Having cracked crab? Open a bottle of this delicate Savioe blanc and watch your tastebuds sing! Or, as a bright, and refreshing counterpoint to rich raclette or fondue, this jaunty little wine will seal the deal as a natural food wine pairing. Fresh, zingy green apples, creamy pear and gorgeous acidity make trying this little white a no brainer! —Thornton Jacobs

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