Chateau de Brézé

The Story

L’Histoire:  Lauded in the classical literature of the 15th century, by King René of Anjou, the legendary wines of Château de Brézé were served in many royal courts in Europe. Regularly exchanged with other famous châteaux, like Sauternes’ greatest, Château d’Yquem, during the 1600’s, the white wines of Château de Brézé became known throughout Europe as “Chenin de Brézé.”

When the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) of Saumur-Champigny was established in 1957, the owner of Château de Brézé refused the inclusion of his vineyards into this red wine appellation. His claim was that his historical vineyards were the best in the area for Chenin Blanc and that they should have their own AOC, Brézé.  He was denied and the vineyards remained part of the abyss of Saumur.  However, most vignerons in the area would tell you today that the vineyards of Brézé are the best vineyards in Saumur, and that the claim of superiority is true.

In 2009, the château’s new owner, le Comte de Colbert, asked Yves Lambert and his son, Arnaud, from Domaine de Saint-Just, to manage the estate. They accepted with a twenty-five year lease and immediately began a hard work of converting these historical vineyards to organic culture after more than fifty years of chemical farming.  Today, five after many years of quality farming and the deft touch of Arnaud, the brilliance of the wines known centuries ago is reemerging.

Lay of the Land

Saumur, the vast sister appellation to Saumur-Champigny, is largely made up of tiny estates and one big co-op. There are hills that pop up here and there but they are generally gentle slopes leading down to alluvial valleys carved out by the flooding of the Loire River and its tributaries over thousands of years. Brézé is a unique place to all others in Saumur.

Tuffeau limestone is the mother rock that sits below the surface of all vineyards on this hill.  Indeed, topsoils vary with different depths and mixtures of limestone, clay and sands. Cold temperatures of Brézé couple with the highly active calcium content in the soil to create still wines that have unusually low finishing pH levels (within the range of 2.85 to 3.05) and extraordinarily powerful acidic structures; they are more like what is found in Champagne, or other sparkling wines. Brézé is a special terroir that tastes and smells like no other.

Clos du Chateau

Château de Brézé - 2016 Saumur Blanc, Clos du Chateau

Price: $68.00
Size: 750ml
Availability:

23 in stock

Type of Wine: White
Style: High acid, Mineral

The Wine

There’s too much to say about our friend Arnaud Lambert, one of the key men behind the rise of the wines of Brézé. Since my first visit to the domaine he’s allowed me into his world to brainstorm together about new developments with his estates. There have been consecutive days of long tastings and conversation about his choices with each wine and what the future might look like. Through the process, an idea was hatched and the results are beyond encouraging.


I proposed to Arnaud to isolate the most interesting parcels of Chenin Blanc that haven’t yet been made into single cru wines to assess their potential. The plan has been to make two barrels from each site, observe and taste them through their aging, then price them based on quality comparison with the other wines in his range with a guarantee that I’ll sell them in California.


All five of the “experiments” were successful, not surprisingly, but without a doubt the most compelling remains the Clos du Château, grown from the very top of the hill of Brézé. Originally a two-barrel lot, one stood out and was simply too profound to diminish its quality by blending it with the other.


The vineyard sits just in front of the Château de Brézé, and has been used for sparkling wine because of its cold terroir and beyond ripping acidity. Arnaud wasn’t sure that it would ripen properly enough to become a compelling still wine, but the stars aligned in 2016. We pushed forward and the results are simply fabulous. Those who collect and have taken a strong interest in this unique hill, with its slow rising collection of juggernaut white wines that have nearly redefined the category of dry Chenin Blanc altogether, should not miss this.


I’ve tasted it several times from barrel and have now had many bottles of the 2016 since its release. Each one ups the ante as it further develops in the bottle. Twenty of the twenty-three cases made it to California (the remaining three Arnaud kept for himself) and we have a few left. Do yourself a favor and don’t wait on this one. It is the most rare wine we import and one of the very best as well.

About The Wine

There’s too much to say about our friend Arnaud Lambert, one of the key men behind the rise of the wines of Brézé. Since my first visit to the domaine he’s allowed me into his world to brainstorm together about new developments with his estates. There have been consecutive days of long tastings and conversation about his choices with each wine and what the future might look like. Through the process, an idea was hatched and the results are beyond encouraging.

I proposed to Arnaud to isolate the most interesting parcels of Chenin Blanc that haven’t yet been made into single cru wines to assess their potential. The plan has been to make two barrels from each site, observe and taste them through their aging, then price them based on quality comparison with the other wines in his range with a guarantee that I’ll sell them in California.

All five of the “experiments” were successful, not surprisingly, but without a doubt the most compelling remains the Clos du Château, grown from the very top of the hill of Brézé. Originally a two-barrel lot, one stood out and was simply too profound to diminish its quality by blending it with the other.

The vineyard sits just in front of the Château de Brézé, and has been used for sparkling wine because of its cold terroir and beyond ripping acidity. Arnaud wasn’t sure that it would ripen properly enough to become a compelling still wine, but the stars aligned in 2016. We pushed forward and the results are simply fabulous. Those who collect and have taken a strong interest in this unique hill, with its slow rising collection of juggernaut white wines that have nearly redefined the category of dry Chenin Blanc altogether, should not miss this.

I’ve tasted it several times from barrel and have now had many bottles of the 2016 since its release. Each one ups the ante as it further develops in the bottle. Twenty of the twenty-three cases made it to California (the remaining three Arnaud kept for himself) and we have a few left. Do yourself a favor and don’t wait on this one. It is the most rare wine we import and one of the very best as well.