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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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Entries in Mt. Etna (1)


Wine of the Week: 2009 Antichi Vinai Petra Lava Rosato

Why does mid-winter need to feel like banishment to Siberia? Sure shoveling is tedious, and the sub-zero temperatures along the East Coast are causing ice crystals to form on the end of your perpetually running nose, but there are warm fires to snuggle near and children laughing as they make angels in the snow. Winter's chill is a state of mind that can be thawed, if just a bit, by a shift in thinking.

Now I know you're thinking that I'm delusional, or that I'm gloating because the weather here in Southern California is, well, let's just say "mild." But honestly, my sunny disposition comes not from the bright blue skies outside my window, but from the eloquent petals of prose proffered by Eric Asimov in his Monday New York Times post about winter rosés, A Rosé Can Bloom in Winter, Too.

Like most wine drinkers, I consume more hearty reds when the weather is cold. But I don't eat braised short ribs or rich red sauce pastas every night. I like to roast chickens and root vegetables, and enjoy a dried cherry and gruyere-stuffed pork chop every now and then, neither of which require a red wine that feels like a cozy chenille blanket. I like wines with bright fruit, minerality, herbaceousness, delicate tannins and plenty of acidity no matter what the season, and the pale garnet of a substantial rosé in the middle of a snow flurry can be like a SAD lamp for your palate.

So, in the spirit of Asimov's post, I'm ditching the last of my holiday gluttony-inspired Digestivo posts for a Wine of the Week that doesn't need a backyard barbecue to show it's stuff. The 2009 Antichi Vinai Petra Lava Rosato ($19.99) is anything but a frivolous, pool-side sipper. A blend of what the Sicilians call I Nerelli--Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio--grown on the northern slope of Mt. Etna, this rosé is intense and structured. Its aromas lean toward cranberry and cherry, with hints of hibiscus, all of which carry over to a full palate balanced by juicy acidity and earthy volcanic minerality. I'm going to drink this with the aforementioned stuffed pork chop tonight, and buy an extra bottle for Sunday's fresh, farmers' market roast chicken.

Leah Greenstein