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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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Friday
May052006

When in Doubt, Go Lebanese

Located at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level, in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, are the vineyards of Chateau Musar which rest, warm, happy and excited. The Bekaa Valley is surrounded by mountains running parallel with the Mediterranean coast. Here grow vines that rarely see any frost or disease and are bathed in a long, warm sunny growing season. Grape varietals of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault and carignan dominate the vineyard, which consists of a gravelly soil and base of limestone. Founded, as a hobby interest, by Gaston Hochar and now run by his two sons, Serge and Ronald, Musar strives “to translate what nature intended.” The blend is always based on the vintage, hand picked then aged 12 to 15 months in Nevers oak, blended in its third year, bottled and then aged in the cellar for another four years. Known world wide for their complexity and maturity, the wines are ready to drink upon release, seven years after harvest, but will continue to age with style and grace for many, many years. The 1995 Château Musar, Lebanon ($47.99) is a vibrant little beauty. A rich round core, spicy chocolate aromas and a zippy, elegant finish is what this is showing off now, but I can’t wait to try it again in five. The 1997 Château Musar, Lebanon ($43.99) is a bit more austere and rugged with a darker, richer style of old-world flare that needs time to really begin to strut its stuff. This is definitely one for the cellar. Since it is time for those summer time sippers, we are also excited to have the 2004 Château Musar Cuvee Reserve Rosé ($16.99). This is a blend of mostly cinsault and obeideh that is aged in oak for 6 to 9 months, bottled and then finally released two years later. You have to give this a shot with a grilled vegetable cous cous with fresh parsley, cilantro and good extra virgin olive oil!!! —Eric Story

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