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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

The Best 1996 Vintage Yet!

I am extraordinarily excited to report that my favorite 1996 vintage Champagne yet has arrived at K&L. From Leclerc-Briant, the producer that brought us the (now sold out) single vineyard Champagnes Clos des Champions, Les Crayères and Les Chêvres Pierreuses is finally releasing their tete de cuvee. The Leclerc-Briant Cuvee Divine ($39.99) is being released at ten years old, a properly luxurious time in the family’s 90 foot-deep cellar for a luxury cuvee. This Champagne is the color of straw, with just the right amount of compact, streaming bubbles. It is composed of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir, blended from estate vineyards in the prime valley of the Marne villages Dizy (home of Jacquesson), Cumieres (where their single vineyard offerings are from), Damery (where Mr. Rene Collard has vines) and Hautvillers (home of the monk Dom Perignon). Aromatically, the pinot noir is at the forefront, with plenty of black cherry, a very high quality, pure nose indeed! After spending nine years on the lees it is surprising how little toast is evident, and I think this is a testament to the organic farming of Mr. Pascal Leclerc-Briant. Because of the lower yields and greater concentration, there is just lots of wine in front of the yeast! In the mouth, the wine is rich and full bodied, with all the flavors present that the nose promised. The finish is where the chardonnay takes over, with zippy, subtly citric refreshment and a very persistent minerality. The Divine is dosed at only six grams per liter, making it quite dry. After having the 1988 at dinner with Scott Beckerley, I am convinced that this will provide fantastic drinking until at least 2021—starting today! Please don’t miss this fantastic Champagne; I am sure it won’t last long. We also received a very small amount of the Leclerc-Briant “La Croisette” Brut ($29.99) from a less-than-one-acre vineyard in Epernay directly above the winery! This blanc de blancs shows the cantaloupe style fruit of a valley of the Marne blanc de blancs and finishes very, very dry. Quantity is limited. Feel free to contact me at 1-800-247-5987 ex 2728. A toast to you! —Gary Westby

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