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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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Gary's Champagne Picks

Last September, Kirk Walker and I were lucky to visit Champagne Hubert Paulet. Benoit Marguet, of Marguet-Bonnerave and Launois fame, had told us all about his friend Olivier Paulet, the young man in charge of this tiny Champagne house. When we arrived in Rilly-La-Montagne, on the north side of the mountain of Reims, we were not disappointed. Olivier took over Champagne Hubert Paulet in 1998 and works exclusively with estate fruit from Rilly. They sell half of their grapes to Billecart-Salmon, and make a little less the 2000 cases a year with the other half. The quality of the Champagnes is amazing. The style is friendly, and the value (due to our direct import) is fantastic. Olivier ferments in both tile and stainless steel vats, and is one of the rare producers to have a pragmatic view on malolactic fermentation. Ideally, he likes to put half of the blend through malo. He is also leaning toward organics, with grass growing between his rows even just days before the harvest, a rare sight in the chalk and vines landscape of Champagne. His Hubert Paulet Brut Tradition ($27.99) is a blend of 50% meunier, 25% chardonnay and 25% pinot noir. It is composed of the 2000 and 1999 harvests and has seen eight months of extra age on the cork as well as on the lees. It is very charming on the nose with ripe golden apple and fresh spring flower aromatics. It has very solid apple and pear fruit on the palate as well as an uncommon mineral note. It is quite dry, dosed at only 9 grams per liter with concentrated grape must instead of the more common beet sugar. The 1999 Hubert Paulet Brut Vintage ($32.99) is a blend of 40% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 20% meunier. Since 1999 was a very ripe and relatively low acid year, Olivier chose to completely stop the malolactic. This is a bigger, more serious Champagne that would go very well with barbequed chicken. It has a generous nose of dried apricots, wildflowers and cashews. The flavors are bold and full of fruit, but have a very nice counterbalance of minerality and acid. Contact me at or by phone at 877-559-4637 ex 2728 with any questions. A toast to you! —Gary Westby

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