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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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Start the New Year with Domaine Barraud

Denis Barraud’s estate is on the slope of the Roche de Vergisson. The Roche is a giant Basalt outcropping in the Mâcon. What makes this an exceptional place for chardonnay? It is the soil surrounding the Roche, highly folded and well drained limestone. From these slopes, depending on the specific soils, comes Pouilly Fuisse, Saint Veran, or Mâcon Vergisson. After the scorching heat of the 2003 vintage, the 2004 comes across as a refreshing late afternoon breeze, cool and long yet full of life. It was a long harvest, beginning on September 18 and continuing until October 12. Barraud does not like to chapitalize, and he kept his fruit on the vine long enough so that it was not necessary. This year we are proudly offering both the St-Veran and the Pouilly-Fuisse here at K&L. 2004 Denis Barraud St-Veran ($13.99) A mixture of stainless steel and a small percentage of oak; only the oldest vines that are capable of handling the oak go into barrel. The wine exhibits good weight and length. The aromatics and flavors range from bright citrus, soft floral, to lush tropical and pineapple, but always framed with good acidity and minerality. 2004 Denis Barraud Pouilly-Fuisse ($18.99) This wine comes from vines on the lower slopes of his Pouilly-Fuisse parcels and is a serious step up from the previous wine with more oak, battonage and longer aging before bottling, and on the technical side and in the glass, more weight and length. Again the fruit tones are dominantly citrus; with more oak influence and hints of vanilla and spice. On the palate the wine sparkles with good texture crisp acidity and lingering minerality. Both of these will drink beautifully over the next year or so. With crab season in full swing, you will not want to be without a bottle. —Kirk Walker

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