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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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Winemaker Interview: David O'Reilly from Owen Roe

Photo by Zoe Mendell, Owen Roe WineryName: David O’Reilly

Winery: Owen Roe

Number of years in business: 11 years

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

Find the best vineyards and keep my hands off in the winery.

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

I enjoy wines from all over the globe. I appreciate the greatness of Burgundy, the sublimeness of Mosel, the uniqueness of South Africa, the beauty of Oregon Pinot Noirs, the richness of Napa, the silkiness of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, the bubbles from grower Champagne, the fragrance of Yakima Valley.

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that wows you year after year?

The vineyards are the arbiter of quality—the little things done at the right time throughout the year make the wine.

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that’s influenced your wines?

I have toned down my interest in richness and have found wines with finesse to be more aligned both with my current palate but also characteristics in the wines that I am creating from the Willamette and Yakima Valleys.

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new varietals, blends or propriety wines on the horizon?

Maybe the addition of an Oregon Chardonnay—I really like the complexity and age-worthiness of Willamette Valley Chards.

Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style? How do you deal with it?

Critics like what they like and I make what I make. [But]I think that with social media everyone has become a critic—so it is all the more incumbent to create wines worthy of their place.

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

I enjoy other Northwest wines—I especially like Oregon Pinot Noir and wines from the Columbia Valley, particularly from smaller producers. I also enjoy [wines from] Chablis, Mosel, Alsace, Burgundy, Loire. I appreciate well-made wines from all over—especially those that represent well the region from which the grapes are grown.

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Fresh local food from the Northwest.

Do you collect wine? What’s in your cellar these days?

Not really.

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges or hurdles facing the wine industry today?

There [are] increasingly more and more wines available to the consumer—both domestic and imported. To have a modest presence in the marketplace is requiring greater salesmanship, and this is tough for those of us not naturally inclined to schlep wine around the country.


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