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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 Reims (2)


Champagne Friday: Larmat Atlas of Champagne

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

Larmat Atlas of Champagne

Good maps of the vineyards in Champagne are almost impossible to come by. While almost every other great wine region of the world actively promotes the distribution of maps, Champagne, by contrast, is downright secretive. Some of the best vineyard-specific cartography of the region was printed in tiny runs in 1944 by the Larmat Company in Paris. They were commissioned by a number of the big houses (I have also seen the Roederer and Mumm versions) and I was able to acquire one of the Moet editions.

Benoit Marguet searched auctions in the Champagne region for 10 years on my behalf in order to find this copy. The Larmat Atlas that he found is one of only 500 printed by Moet and is in the best shape of any that I have seen. After receiving it, I contacted Moet for permission to post them here. They agreed, but asked me to explain that the vineyards marked as owned by them on these maps from 1944 do not reflect the current state of affairs. Over the last 68 years new plots have been bought, some old ones sold and other traded.

And finally, here are links to the seven maps and one sales chart from the original Larmat. These are very large PDF’s, so it might take a little while to load them. As I showed in the video, I had theses printed out in full size on laminated Styrofoam board. I hope some of you will also print them out, mine turned out great!


Click here for the full map of Champagne

Click here for the Montagne de Reims including vineyard sites

Click here for the Grand Valley of the Marne including vineyard sites

Click here for the Cote des Blancs including vineyard sites

Click here for the Western part of the Mountain of Reims

Click here for the Western part of the Marne and the Aisne

Click here for the Aube

Click here for the 1844-1944 sales chart


Enjoy the maps! A toast to you!



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Champagne Trip, Day 2: Krug!

Krug has become one of the great wine monuments of France by making and delivering great Champagne in the bottle since 1843. The only other producer that I can think of in all of France with a longer track record for perfectionism is Chateau d’Yquem in Sauternes. I love the vinous, powerful style of the Krug wines, which are all barrel fermented and aged for a long time. It was my father's and my choice for the millennium; I contributed a bottle of Grand Cuvée, and he generously contributed his last bottle of 1976, and the two of us had a private party.

I arrived at Krug a half an hour late because half of the roads in Reims were closed—some because of road construction and some because of a strike. If I could have found a place to park, I would have ridden my bike the rest of the way. (I was less than a mile away when the police turned me away!) When I finally arrived, I was welcomed by Julie-Amadine Michel, and we took a tour of the Krug caves, where they store a mind boggling amount of reserve wines for the Grand Cuvée.

This Pinot from Bouzy will likely be included in the 2009 bottling, for release in 2017!

At Krug they use 40% reserve wines in their Grand Cuvée, with some of them dating back 12 to15 years at the time of bottling. After bottling, they keep the wines on the lees from 7 to 10 years—so a completely fresh disgorgement of Krug Grand Cuvée will contain some wines of 19- to 25-years-old. Blending many vintages allows the wine to have a complexity that only age can bring, but with vigor from the younger elements in the blend.

Olivier Krug Joined us for the tasting

After the tour, we sat down to taste Grand Cuvée, and the 1998 and 1995 vintages with Olivier Krug. The Grand Cuvée delivered the complexity that the story promises; it was a Rubik’s Cube of terroir, grape variety and time when I studied it closely, and at once a disarmingly delicious drink when simply enjoyed. The 1998 is only the second Krug vintage (1981 being the other) to be dominated by Chardonnay in the blend. Because of a scorching August, much of their Pinot and Meunier were overripe. This Champagne is drinking very well already, with a golden color, an amazingly toasty nose of brioche, a buttery rich mid-palate and a powerful finish. The 1995 was also drinking well, and seemed to be even toastier still.

Olivier and I also talked about a tasting he next time he was in the US, and I am pleased to say we will have a small gathering in the Redwood City store on Wednesday June 10th at 5 p.m. It will be an honor to have him in the store. Please send me and email at if you would like to come. It will be very limited, so please do not wait to drop me a line.

—Gary Westby