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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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Lovely Bargains to Start Off the New Year!

2004 Château St. Jean des Graves, Blanc ($10.99) 90% sauvignon blanc makes this wine steely and clean. There is no oak to obscure the flavors of grapefruit, citrus and fresh melon, which are bright and racy. This is zippy, lively white Bordeaux at its best! Great with shellfish or goat cheese. 2004 Château Roquefort, Bordeaux Blanc ($9.99) This 85% sauvignon blanc wine is a bit rounder (due to 15% semillon) and more herbaceous than the St. Jean but still has plenty of lively acidity. Here we have a somewhat richer more nuanced blend that could stand up to stronger cheeses or even fish in a sauce but still retains a juicy by-the-glass appeal. Easy to drink and easy to buy! 2000 Château La Cardonne, Médoc ($14.99) From Bordeaux’s greatest vintage ever comes a great bargain. This starts with lusty aromas of toast, coffee and herb that leap out of the glass. The palate is clean, fresh and firm showing lots of dark fruit and a touch of spice on the substantial finish. This is food friendly, affordable and got 89 points from the Wine Spectator. 2003 Les Gravettes, Côtes de Bourg ($12.99) The satellite region of Côtes de Bourg is home to many tasty, bargain-priced wines, and this lush beauty is a perfect example. Ripe berries gush from this merlot-based gem with juicy cherries rounded out by a chocolaty finish showing very mild tannin. This is a traditionally made wine done in a more modern style for early drink ability. —Steve Bearden

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