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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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Thursday
May042006

¡Alegrense los Geeks de Vino!

In Bierzo, unlike most of the famous regions in Spain, tempranillo is not the big grape. Rather it’s the unique indigenous varietal, Mencia that matters. While it is planted elsewhere in this corner of the Iberian Pennisula, this grape seems to do best here. Located between the cool region of Galacia and the hot uplands of the Duero, this relatively cool climate allows the grapes to fully mature while still retaining their acidity. Mencia and Bierzo are cameleons; you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they’re like Loire Valley Cabernet Franc other times Northern Rhone Syrah. Confusing? Yes. Boring? Never. Their unique flavor profiles make them a delicious accompaniment to many dishes. Right now we have several in stock: 2005 Bodegas Y Vinedos Luna Beberide Luna ($12.99) This is in that Northern Rhone vein: meaty. Don’t let you inner vegetarian be scared away, there is also plenty of rich dark fruits on the nose and palate. Elegant and pleasantly structured, this wine really opens up and shows more spice and minerals with some decanting. 2004 Dominio de Tares, Baltos ($13.99) Less extreme than the above but no less enchanting. Brighter red fruits with a floral hint and a touch of earth on the nose. On the palate this wine offers lots of red fruits, minerality and spice. It sees several months in both American and French oak. 2004 Pucho, Bierzo ($12.99) Here is a Loire Valley expression of Mencia. Bright and snappy with red fruit, herbs and spice. Medium bodied, with good intensity and persistence, the palate has plenty of juicy red fruit supported by moderate tannins, leather and spice. This was instantly a staff favorite. —Kirk Walker

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