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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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Sonoma County Front and Center

You're going to be seeing a lot more wine labeled Sonoma County over the next few years. Back in late-August the California State legislature approved AB 1798 requiring that wines from the 13  American Viticultural Areas) AVAs in Sonoma County also include that designation on their label. The bill was signed into law by Arnold Schwarzenegger in late September. While a handful of wineries like Alexander Valley's Chateau Souverain already list "Sonoma County" on their labels (see photo), many producers only list the most specific AVA. 

Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Wine Grape Commission told Wines & Vines: "In this increasingly competitive wine market, building awareness for Sonoma County and the wine regions within the county is critical to Sonoma County grapegrowers and the wineries they supply. AB1798 will ensure that consumers recognize every bottle of wine produced from Sonoma County grapes." Similar conjunctive labeling laws went into effect in Napa Valley in 1989, in Paso Robles in 2007 and Lodi in 2008. Proponents of the new law argue that it will help educate consumers about the wines of Sonoma County along with helping to promote the greater region. But the bill does have its detractors. Tom Wark of Fermentation Daily doesn't believe that the new law tells consumers anything of value about the wine in the bottle, writing, "Why is it important for someone making 'Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir' or 'Sonoma Valley Zinfandel' to help promote 'Sonoma County', a designation that has no ability to define the quality or character of the wines in my Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir or my Sonoma Valley Zinfandel?" Other critics point to the additional costs wineries will incur by redesigning their labels and resubmitting them to the TTB. And yet others from AVAs that already have "Sonoma" in their names point to the redundancy and possible confusion caused by having Sonoma listed twice on their label.

Wines from the following AVAs will be affected: Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Green Valley, Knights Valley, Los Carneros, Northern Sonoma, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain.

What do you think?

Leah Greenstein

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