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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 Ralph Sands (1)


Winery to Watch: Château Cantemerle

Robert Parker recently called Château Cantemerle, “A property on the rebound,” in the Wine Advocate, and he couldn’t be more spot on. Finally recovering from the decades of neglect that preceded its purchased by a French insurance group in the early-1980s, Château Cantemerle produces exceptional Old World Bordeaux that have earned it the reputation as one of the best values in in the region.

This isn’t to say that everything made before the purchase of this 90-hectare Haut-Médoc estate is forgettable. There are some fabulous old Cantemerles—1949, 1961 and 1981, in particular—but the wines really started getting good in the late-1990s, according to K&L’s co-owner and Bordeaux buyer Clyde Beffa Jr. K&L has been visiting the property, which was designated a fifth growth in the 1855 Classification of the Médoc, since 1985, watching its evolution and enjoying its rustic, Old School, rough-and-ready wines all the while. Director Philippe Dambrine, who also works with Château Greysac, Château Haut Corbin and Château le Jurat, joined the Château a few years ago (see our interview with Philippe), and under his direction the wines have really begun to show elegance and finesse. In fact, Clyde says the 2006 Cantemerle ($29.99) is the best ever from them and, by the scores, it seems Robert Parker agrees (90-92 points). Spicy ripe fruit with fine middle richness, sweetness and mouthfeel. K&L’s Alex Brisoux describes it as having: “Sweet, spicy red fruit with cocoa and tobacco undertones, good structure and elegant, long finish. The best young Cantemerle I’ve ever tasted.”

The Château is planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 5% each Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, varietals that appropriately struggle in the silca-gravel soils created by the erosion of the Pyrenees by the Garonne River centuries ago.

In addition to the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages we describe on page 22 and above, K&L also currently has Cantemerle’s second wine, the 2004 Les Alles de Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc ($19.99), in stock. Ready to drink now, this has the same personality as the grand vin, with hints of chocolate, pencil lead and cassis that fill the palate and the nose. We are also offering the delicious 2007 vintage ($28.99), which Ralph says is sweet and herbal with a long finish that’s even better than their 2005! Don’t miss them!