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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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Spotlight on More Surprises!

Okay, last month some were surprised by the historic importance of merlot only to be reminded about that April 1st thing. This month I’ll come clean. No misleading here; these surprises are going to be real. What I’ve found this month is an flip-flop of wine regions. Normally we look for bargains from places like Paso Robles, and expect to pay through the nose for anything with the word Napa on it. But this month, we’ve received three new wines that have turned these categories upside down. No foolin’! One of our new releases in the hot $20-Cabernet category is the 2003 Waterstone Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99). Immensely enjoyable now, no need to decant or cellar, this tasty treat gives you nothing but beautiful, luscious fruit and a long, velvety finish. You can almost see the tears of relief in my eyes. Gas prices may be going up, but all hope is not lost in Cabernet. Somebody out there still likes us. Now, onto a producer that has refocused their efforts over the recent years. Artesa winery, besides being a great place to visit, has consistently produced great Chardonnays and Pinots without much fanfare or hype. Now, they’ve outdone themselves with the 2002 Artesa Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99). This is a remarkably affordable, high-class Cabernet that might leave you wondering why you have pay more for great Cabs. The mood shifts considerably when you experience the 2003 L’Aventure Paso Robles Optimus ($35.99) for the first time. This effort comes fully loaded with everything you expect from greatness. A blend of mostly syrah and cabernet, this beauty shows persistent acidity, refined tannins, elegant multi-layered fruit, a seamless finish and an overall sense of quality thats unusual to find (yet) in Paso Robles. This gem’s easily as good as some of the pricier names to the north. Do yourself a great favor and diversify your portfolio so to speak, by investing in a few of these for the cellar. You’ll be rewarded nicely. —Martin Reyes

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