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Stater-West has opened his Brézé account with 0.5 hectares in the lieu-dit of L’Ardillon; a single south/southwest-facing parcel of Chenin planted in the 1960s. The topsoil (about 80cm deep) is a mix of clay and loam above Turonian limestone. The soil’s deeper structure brings more austerity, a more ‘horizontal’ profile than Les Chapaudaises.
It’s worth repeating that the terroir of Brézé is not typical Saumur. The vineyards are at a higher elevation than most of the surrounding areas and sit directly on a hill of tuffeau—a porous, chalky limestone intermixed with clay and sand. Something like 70% of the vineyard has less than one metre of topsoil so vines of any age must establish roots in the chalky bedrock. This terroir creates a far more citrus, floral and mineral expression of Chenin. Even in ripe and powerful vintages, the wines remain cool, pure and fresh.
It’s hardly a large holding, yet Stater-West further reduces the yield by sorting out any less-than-perfect bunches. This inaugural Brézé bottling was crafted like Chapaudaises: aged on fine lees for 12 months in barrel followed by six months in stainless steel. Brendan uses less new wood than Guiberteau—the lion’s share of the juice is raised in barrels after their second and third uses—giving the wine a certain youthful approachability compared to his mentor’s wine. Future releases will see two winters in oak. Due to the very low pH (between 3.07 to 3.12), the malo never gets started, so Stater-West gives this wine a very low dose of sulphur (one gram per hectolitre) to prevent any ‘accidents’ happening in the bottle.
It’s a deeply alluring and complex wine packed with the fine detail, extract and vinous intensity that are crucial features of Brézé’s finest wines. It lures you in with bright and perfumed citrus, florals and savoury herbs before electrifying your taste buds with its potent fruit and generous texture draped in crystalline acidity and chalky structure. The persistent, saline-drenched finish is worth the price of admission alone. It’s what you could call a serious bit of kit. Although it’s more approachable than Guiberteau’s smoky powerhouse, the longer you leave it, the more rewarding it will become. Serve it as you would a fine white Burgundy.
We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation, who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate in Melbourne, and pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners of lands across Australia, their Elders, Ancestors, cultures and heritage, and recognise the continuing sovereignties of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations.
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