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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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Bike Riding in Champagne


So many perfect, narrow, traffic free roads to ride in Champagne!

The Champagne region, as I like to tell anyone who will listen, is a great place to visit. While I come for the great wines, the fantastic food, great accommodations and many other attractions would be well worth a trip without a drop of bubbles. Today, I am writing from the small village of Crugny, where Cinnamon and I have rented Gite La  Grange with two other couples. It is a converted farmhouse, and could not be any nicer, with four bedrooms, and a generous living space with an open kitchen and a backyard with outdoor seating and a grill.

Cinnamon and Doug wrestle with the duvet cover at Gite La Grange.

Last night we cooked a good dinner of rabbit in Dijon sauce, vegetables from the farm stand next door and sausages, with a cucumber salad, generous cheese plate from La Cave aux Fromages at 12 Place du Forum in Reims and chocolates from Vincent Dallet in Epernay. Today I got on my bike to work it all off!

The northwestern corner of Champagne is full of gorgeous old churches, this one is in Dravegny.

In this north-western corner of Champagne, it is very easy to get a good work out on a bike. While the terrain is not mountainous, there is scarcely a kilometer of flat, and many of the small climbs are quite steep. On my ride I tackled a chalk cobble climb to the chicken farm that we were buying eggs from, where I was welcomed by the farmer’s dog, who chased me until I sprayed him with my water bottle! I also saw a chevreuil (a small deer), a red fox and to many birds to count.

Yes- the eggs were fantastic!

The ancient churches were also too numerous to count, and riding by the Abbaye Notre Dame d’Igny was spectacular- even if their famous chocolate shop was closed- again! I ended up riding for about 2 hours, taking in numerous gorgeous villages, including my favorite: Brouillet. Brouillet is home to Champagne Aspasie… A destination in itself!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

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