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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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Jim C’s View Down Under

While you are hopefully reading this, my cohort in Southern Hemispheric interests, Shaun Green, will be on his way to South Africa for the first time. So, I’m going to share a couple of those wines with you now as I have a feeling he will be waxing poetic about the wines of South Africa upon his return. 2003 Fairview “Caldera” Swartland South Africa ($22.99) This wine is made by Charles Back, the man who produces Goats do Roam, the biggest selling South African wine in the States. With this effort, he has blended 47% grenache from 61-year-old bushvines with 29% mourvèdre and 24% shiraz. The grapes are hand sorted and fermented in open-top barrels and then basket pressed. The bouquet has notes of dusty raspberry, earth, red licorice, smoke and pepper. On the palate the wine has silky tannins with hints of cedar and chocolate. 2004 Glen Carlou Chardonnay Paarl South Africa ($12.99) The Glen Carlou Chardonnay has got to be one of the great bargains in the wine business. The wine is barrel aged for 10 months in assorted French oak with 5% of the final blend in American. The nose is bright and fresh with notes of citrus, spiced pear, apple, light toasty oak and nuts. All of these elements are enhanced by a Burgundian minerality and supported by fine acidity giving a juicy mouth feel with a long finish. I like to think of this wine as a mini Meursault, so take note Francophiles and give it a shot. Cheers! —Jimmy C

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