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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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Bearden’s Bargain Bordeaux

I had the honor of being a member of the K&L team that went to Bordeaux the first two weeks in April to taste and evaluate the 2005 vintage. Although these extremely young wines are still changing and forming every day, it was clear to all of us that this is a very special vintage in terms of consistency and quality. The bad news is quantities will be low, and prices will be high. The ray of hope is that virtually everyone made an outstanding 2nd wine, and these usually sell for a fraction of the first wines’ price. In fact, some of the best wines we tasted on our trip were the 2nd wines of the First and Second Growths. Les Forts de Latour, Pauilac: Super intense aromas of crushed currants and berries. This is ripe and fat with a very elegant, velvety finish. Almost as good as some vintages of Latour and the best 2nd wine of the vintage. WOW! Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux: Flavors of raspberries, blackberries, chocolate and oak are in this outstanding and seamless wine. This was sweet and spicy and had the most plush texture of any of the 2nd wines we tasted. Rivals Les Forts for quality. Pavillon Rouge, Margaux: Ch. Margaux made one of the best wines in 2005, and that attention to quality shows in their 2nd wine. Bright and vibrant with tons of black and red fruit masking the 14% alcohol. Aromas of licorice flow into the rich middle and ends with a velvety, fat smooth finish. Great 2nd wine! Clos du Marquis, St-Julien: This was sweet and thick showing red berries, black cherries and toasty oak all in perfect balance. This powerful and deep wine shows great proportion and very fine, sweet tannin. Excellent! Carraudes de Lafite, Pauillac: A high percentage of merlot (45%) shows in the mid-palate of this elegant and structured wine. There is beautiful harmony in the way the sweet entry and dark cherry flavors are pulled together by the strong yet seductive tannins on the finish. Lots of class and breed here. —Steve Bearden

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