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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
Jan242006

Dreaming of a White February

Psst...wanna know about one of the best kept secrets in French wine? Rhone whites! You will absolutely fall in love, LOVE, with the following terrific, overachieving whites. Try one, or try them all! 2004 Domaine Combier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc ORGANIC ($17.99) Fleshy marsanne is in evidence in this honeyed, thick and luscious northern Rhone white that is held together with a long, tight seam of minerals and grippy acidity. The nose is effusive with white flowers and hints of ripe nectarine. Enjoy this elegant white before a traditional Provencal meal or a St. Marcellin cheese. 2004 Costieres de Nimes Chateau Grande Cassagne Blanc ($9.99) Grenache blanc and roussanne are behind this crisp and rich white from the South of France. The very floral nose will set you squarely in the southern Rhone, at a village market, say, where lavender and white flowers mingle with green olives and citrus. A tingle of oak on the finish adds complexity and remains a backnote. Perfect with brandade or a slice of fougasse (flatbread with onion, black olive and anchovy). 2004 Côtes du Rhone Blanc Domaine de la Becassonne ($13.99) Châteauneuf-du-Pape legend Andre Brunel fashions this rich, full-bodied Rhone white from 50% roussanne, 30% clarette and 20% grenache blanc. This offers aromas of sweet honeysuckle and flavors of apricots, peaches and minerals. Pair with virtually any Provencal fare, including roast chicken, fennel roasted pork loin, picholine olives! A truly exceptional wine value from the South of France! —Mulan Chan

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