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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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How about Bordeaux Tonight?

I’ve come across a great wine recently, the 1997 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien ($31.99). This second wine of the world-famous Léoville-Las-Cases is truly a superb wine for tonight. The succulent sweet concentrated dark fruit is well integrated with the oak and offers great balance. I think this is one of the better second wines from the 1997 vintage. Enjoy it by itself or any cheese. One other great value now back in stock is the 2001 Haut-Vigneau, Pessac-Leognan ($13.99). Helped by the winemaking crew at Carbonnieux, Haut-Vigneau offers a solid wine. Showing sweet berries, cassis and little oak as well as good mineral tones, this wine can be enjoyed today (with decanting) and over the next five years. The 2002 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan ($19.99) is another great Pessac that can be enjoyed today. Bright cherry, slight red berry with good structure, but not hard, nice acidity is what makes this one of the most elegant wines of Pessac in 2002. It’s still young, but don’t be afraid to open it and let yourself be charmed. The 2003 St-Hilaire, Haut-Médoc ($14.99) is one of our better value wines of the 2003 vintage. As you might know, 2003 was an extremely hot vintage in Bordeaux. Plenty of ripe concentrated fruit, cassis and blackberry come to mind. The tannins are present but not aggressive. Still young, but with the warm weather coming and the charcoal already warming up, this will be great with any grilled beef from strip sirloin to burgers. —Alexandre Brisoux

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