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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

2005 Isabel Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand ($15.99) Mike and Robyn Tiller supplied much of their fruit to wineries such as Cloudy Bay. In 1994 they produced their first Isabel Estate wine. The nose has a lovely powdery note with gooseberry, passion fruit, pineapple and lime that leap from the glass. The small percent of fruit that is barrel fermented with wild yeast adds nice mid-palate richness and texture. The finish is exceptionally long and multi-layered with some mineral notes as well. 2004 Thorn Clarke “Shotfire Ridge” Barossa Cuvee Barossa Valley South Australia ($15.99) This is one heck of a wine for the money! It won the gold at the Barossa Wine Show, Best Wine of Show at Adelaide and Top of Class at The National Wine Show. It’s a beautiful blend of all five Bordeaux grapes that offers a bouquet of crème de cassis, black fruits, earth, chocolate and a hint of licorice. Balanced with good acidity, the middle palate shows a creamy texture and there a long fine finish. 2003 Craneford “John Zilm” Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia ($29.99) 90-93 points Robert Parker. The wine has a nose of blue and blackberry fruits, earth and dark chocolate. Shows fine balancing acidity with some notes of black pepper and roasted grain. I tasted with winemaker John Zilm this past January, and I can tell you he has some more great wines to come. The 2004s will be coming soon with some great values, and the 2005s out of barrel were showing tremendous promise. —Jimmy C

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