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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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Thursday
Feb162006

March into Spring with Champagne!

Now that the winter thaw has started, it is time to celebrate. So, pop a bottle or two of Champagne. Heck! At these prices, buy a case! To start with, we have the ultra low-priced Ariston Carte Blanche Brut ($22.99). The grapes that make up this lovely wine are from the steep, sunny slopes of Brouillet. This results in riper fruit. A rich soil of shellfish fossils provides minerality and depth in the final blend, which consists of 40% chardonnay, 30% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier. In the nose, you will find pistachios, brioche, red fruits and just the faintest hint of coconut. On the palate, lemon curd and custard come out in the forefront. These flavors are followed by red plum and currant fruit. Roasted nuts round out the finish. This newest incarnation of Carte Blanche has smaller bubbles and less yeast than the previous blend. A perfect match for brie and other creamy cheeses as well as a pan-seared whitefish crusted with almonds. Second on this month’s list, is the Tarlant Brut Zero ($26.99). The current trend of Ultra-Brut, no dosage (no sugar added) Champagne is at its apex with this wine. A blend of 1/3 each of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier with fruit from hillsides in Oeuilly in the Valley of the Marne. Soils in the area are a mix of chalk, sand, limestone and sparnacien (chalk and clay). The final blend is from the 1998, 1999 and 2000 vintage, which was bottled in July, 2003. A fantastic nose of tangerines, stone fruits and minerals. In the mouth, citrus fruit, nectarine, lime and hazelnuts. This wine absolutely begs to be served with oysters! Another bonus is that the Tarlant family does not advertise, is that their Champagnes are organic! —Scott Beckerley

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