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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
Mar212006

Spotlight on Divine Droplets

Here’s a bit of irony for you: I was reading an article from UC Davis Dept of Ampelography last month and discovered something incredibly interesting. Studies on wine residues in clay pots in Haifa (known as Galilee in Biblical times), shows surprising genetic matches with what’s believed to be none other than our much-maligned merlot grape! Apparently, this seemed to be the wine of choice for those settlements along what is now called the Holy Land. According to the article, there was more than a good chance the wine created from water in that very famous Canaan wedding was merlot (or some form of it)! While this data is not 100% conclusive, the way I see it, if merlot was good enough for heavenly consumption, it’s good enough for me. So, who’s laughing now, Miles? 2003 Cloverdale Ranch Alexander Valley Merlot ($19.99) Consistently one of the more impressive Merlots we carry every year. This year, it’s still stylishly seductive, but adds an extra element of soft, ripe tannins and subtle earthy tones that keep its posture straight and hair combed just right. What a great, full-bodied effort, and the most striking to date. 2003 Burgess Napa Merlot ($14.99) You’ve got to love these guys. Besides being just killer nice people, their wines are remarkable and affordable. You don’t often see serious Merlot this flat-out good at prices that can be considered “everyday.” Yet this Merlot will never fail you in times of either friendly get-togethers or important dinners. Way to go! And why not, let’s throw in Merlot’s friendly rival, Pinot Noir. Though not divinely inspired, the ever-consistent 2004 Olivet Lane Russian River Pinot Noir ($23.99), loads up on the velvety, seductive sensory heaven that is Russian River Pinot Noir. Each new release, just like every new Mardi Gras, reminds you how good life is. It’s foolish not to drink it on the first day of April, too. Oh wait, there’s no Davis Department of Ampelography, you say? Fine, but the joke’s on you. Enjoy anyway! —Martin Reyes

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