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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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Monday
Oct082012

2010 Chablis: The Biggest Value in White Wine

Now when I say that Chablis is the "biggest value" in white wine, I'm not talking about $10 Tuesday night bottles to leave half-full in your fridge overnight.  I'm talking about serious stuff.  I'm taking about Chardonnay with the ability to age gracefully over the next decade. I'm talking about serious depth of flavor, piercing minerality, and incredible balance. Compared to the other great white wines of France, we are really getting our money's worth with Chablis – especially in the 2010 vintage.

I debated all day about whether I was actually going to write this blog post or not. Jeff Garneau and I were actually texting each other last night about how amazing one of our new Chablis acquisitions is tasting.

For God's sake! Don't blog about it! - the message said at the end.

Between the two of us, Jeff and I are drinking enough Chablis for the rest of the wine-loving world. K&L's Burgundy buyer, Keith Wollenburg, has been dealing as of late, securing rock-bottom prices for wines that should probably cost three times as much, at least when compared to their Cote d'Or counterparts. However, because the region of Chablis sits in a backwater – "on the road to nowhere of any importance" as Clive Coates writes – it often gets far less respect than the various Montrachets on the market. That's fine with me, however, because it keeps the prices affordable.  As a relative newcomer to the world of wine, I'm not looking forward to having my own "I remember when Chablis only cost $20 a bottle" moment.  I've already heard too much of that talk from our own Bordeaux veterans.

2010 was a fantastic year for Loire Valley Sancerre sauvignon blanc. The acidity of the wines was perfect and the flavors of wet stone and mineral components were thrilling. Seeing that Chablis is just a bit further East from the Sancerre region, I hoped for similar results from the Chardonnay. So far, the results have been heavenly. Unlike the premier cru whites of the Or, you can get some serious 1er action in Chablis for less than $30. Grand Cru wines are still under $100! Similar wines from Montrachet hover around the $400 mark.  Here are a few of the winners:

2010 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis $17.99 - This is a lovely wine. Plenty of that classic oyster shell with stony minerality and firm acidity.  A sweet deal.

2010 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis 1er Cru "Vaillons" $24.99 - The wines from Vaillons vineyard are not always consistent, but when they're good, they're really good. 2010 is such a fantastic year and this recent release shows you everything this site is capable of. There's a bit of new oak in this one, but the acidity is still there. Lovely.

2010 Gerard Tremblay Chablis 1er Cru "Cote de Lechet" $23.99 - As I am writing this, there are only 12 bottles left of this wine in stock - all in Hollywood. We've already blown through this wine - the staff, that is. We left you a few bottles. I'd grab them fast. Cote de Lechet is one of the most reliable sites in Chablis and this wine is tip-top.

These are just a few of my favorites from our inventory, but so far I've yet to taste a mediocre bottle of Chablis from 2010.  You could literally just grab any bottle from 2010 that's in your price range and I'd be willing to bet it's a winner. I've put away about two cases already, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough. This might be where I make my stand.  I've never been a huge collector and my wine storage only holds about 120 bottles or so, but I'm considering investing in more space. This is the kind of vintage/value combination that we never see anymore. Great vintages usually equate to higher prices. Chablis is the exception.

Sorry, Jeff.  I couldn't keep it in.

-David Driscoll

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