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In which we present a cornucopia of gift ideas designed to thrill and amaze everone on your list, beginning with some of our most beautiful Spirits and progressing through every wine region in the store - in time for local shipping. (Don't miss the mature Italians!) (It's loosely alphabetical with the US at the end...)
Happy Holidays from everyone at Chambers Street!
You can count the number of truly useful Champagne books on one hand and few are as compellingly written and well-considered as Peter Liem's Champagne: An Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers and Terroir of the Iconic Region. Not only is the book filled with profiles of our favorite growers and useful discussions about the terroirs of the different villages, but it also includes reproductions of the long out-of-print Larmat maps of the region, originally printed in the 1940s and included to help get a detailed sense of the geographic nuances of the region. This is essential reading for Champagne lovers and a great read for those with even a passing interest. John McIlwain
Glen Moray is a distillery in Elgin, on the banks of the River Lossie, about a thirty-minute drive northwest of the Aultmore distillery. Originally owned by Robert Thorne & Sons (the owners of Aberlour at the time) and called the West Brewery, it opened in 1895 before adding two stills and rebranding as a distillery in 1897. A fire at the Aberlour distillery in the early 1900s all but halted production at Glen Moray as they focused their attention to rehabilitating the destroyed facility. It closed in 1910, and lay dormant until the late 1920s when it was purchased by the owners of the Glenmorangie family, and has been distilling ever since. Our Chambers Street bottling shows the other side of Speyside with a fuller, sweeter profile. Think peanut brittle, caramel, granola, maple cream, and dried flower petals on the nose, with a decadent mouthfeel and flavors reminiscent of honey roasted walnuts, treacle, and brown spice. The finish picks up some of the piquant notes from the sherry octave that it was finished in, resulting in a slightly sweet, intoxicatingly long, and complex finish. Chambers Street Malt #2: Glen Moray Octave #Q1207. Distilled in 2009, bottled in 2016 aged 7 years-old at 111.2 proof after 9 months in octave cask. 98 bottles produced. Tim Gagnon
Glen Moray is a distillery in Elgin, on the banks of the River Lossie, about a thirty-minute drive northwest of the Aultmore distillery. Originally owned by Robert Thorne & Sons (the owners of Aberlour at the time) and called the West Brewery, it opened in 1895 before adding two stills and rebranding as a distillery in 1897. A fire at the Aberlour distillery in the early 1900s all but halted production at Glen Moray as they focused their attention to rehabilitating the destroyed facility. It closed in 1910, and lay dormant until the late 1920s when it was purchased by the owners of the Glenmorangie family, and has been distilling ever since.
Our Chambers Street bottling shows the other side of Speyside with a fuller, sweeter profile. Think peanut brittle, caramel, granola, maple cream, and dried flower petals on the nose, with a decadent mouthfeel and flavors reminiscent of honey roasted walnuts, treacle, and brown spice. The finish picks up some of the piquant notes from the sherry octave that it was finished in, resulting in a slightly sweet, intoxicatingly long, and complex finish.
Chambers Street Malt #2: Glen Moray Octave #Q1207. Distilled in 2009, bottled in 2016 aged 7 years-old at 111.2 proof after 9 months in octave cask. 98 bottles produced. Tim Gagnon
The Chauchet-Voyer family has been farming vineyards and making Cognac in the limestone-rich terroir of Grande Champagne for the past five generations. This spirit comes from a single barrel filled in 1993 and aged for 25 years. Distilled on the lees, this is a powerful and broad-shouldered Cognac, with great density on the palate and notes of baked apples, poached pears, leather, baking spice, apricot marmalade, dried cherries, a hint of forest floor and balsamic. A beautiful expression of the richness that Cognac can deliver without the use of artificial color, added sugar, or boisé. Bottled at 45.9%. Oskar Kostecki
Before he passed away in 2013, Michel Couvreur was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and inventive of independent whiskey bottlers. Along with experimental cask regimes that included everything from ex-Calvados to ex-Jura Vin Jaune barrels, Mr. Couvreur was a specialist of the sherry cask, travelling extensively throughout Andalucia sourcing the very best butts to age his purchased Scotch. The Overaged 12 Year is a perfect example of that, a heavily sherried malt with an approachable price-point. Chewy and viscous on the palate due to its complete lack of filtration, it has notes of raisins, sultana, fruit cake, dried candied fruit, and leather. Perfect for a cold Christmas evening. Oskar Kostecki
Laurent Cazottes is undoubtedly one of the finest distillers in the entire world. Farming grapes and fruit trees biodynamically in the Tarn department in Southwest France, he is crafting some of the purest expressions of fruit brandy that I have ever tasted. This beautiful greengage plum (Reine-Claude in French) brandy comes from a small .7 hectare grove of ancient trees, and Laurent hand peels and de-seeds the fruit before fermenting and distilling. I've never had the pleasure of tasting greengage plums, this old heirloom variety is nearly extinct in the US, but this exceptionally crafted distillate more than makes up for it. A wonderful way to finish a meal, and a real treat! Oskar Kostecki
And who doesn't need a very big bottle of the world's finest greengage plum brandy?!
Normandin-Mercier are both an estate producer growing grapes and distilling at Domaine de la Peraudiere, as well as negociants buying young eau-de-vies from like-minded growers with a focus on the crus of Grande-Champagne and Petite-Champagne. This special yearly release is a single cask of a family reserve blend made of spirits dating back over a century, as well as younger distillates. Always an exceptional treat for the holidays, this particular cask is limited to 120 bottles. Oskar Kostecki
I am astounded by the freshness that this old Cognac carries. A single cask from the outlying appellation of Fin Bois, this was distilled in 1973 by the Landier family from grapes grown in clay-limestone soils. It has a beautiful, lifted aromatic profile, with notes of citrus, tangerine, orange zest, orange marmalade, white flowers, apple, pear, and darker aromas of plum and toffee. There is a hint of rancio and baking spice, and while you can feel the age of the spirit, the roundness it carries on the palate and its phenomenal length, there is also a vibrancy to the fruit character that I've never experienced in a Cognac this old. A truly unique expression. Bottled at 47.8% ABV. Oskar Kostecki
The 2000 Bacco fully exudes the traditional Château de Briat house style: decadent, yet complex and structured, with a focus on new oak. Again, from the diary of John Rankin: On the nose it is luscious with sweet caramel, the chewy soft kind, and orange zest rising from the glass. On the palate it is rich and silky – very drinkable – with a touch of spice and a sugary milk chocolate finish. With this flavor profile and the château’s affinity for new oak, this would be a fantastic crossover spirit for Bourbon lovers! Tim Gagnon
Hollerin has fairly large terraces, with loam and Gföhler gneiss soil. Sometimes thought to be the softer counterpart to nearby Höhereck, this vintage the Hollerin really shines! Sweet mint and ginger on the nose, the palate is zippy and bracing with a mélange of stone fruit and citrus: ripe peach, nectarine, orange and tangerine juice, tart kumquat zest—mouthwatering! Cari Bernard
This is the final vintage you will see this bottle with Rosengartel on the label, due to red-tape and regulations; but let's not forget about this legendary vineyard, where Jutta farms eight rows of vines down the south-facing flank of the Nußberg, on shell limestone soils. Jutta was initially offered four rows from a female winemaker who was close to retirement in 2006. Thinking it was just conversation, Jutta was surprised to receive a phone call the following year from the same winemaker, saying it was time for Jutta to take the parcel. Since then they've been able to add the neighboring four rows to their plot. Jutta maintains that this beautiful vineyard needs ample time before bottling, and the wine remains in stainless steel tank until well into the following fall. White florals, jasmine blossoms on the nose, green mango, nectarine pit, dried herbs, white cherry, green apple all flood the palate, the wine has fantastic density while remaining luminous! Cari Bernard
Ried Lamm gets its name from the deep, loam (and loess) soils found in the vineyard, located on the southeast side of Heiligenstein in the Kamptal. A fairly warm site due to its southfacing exposition, the Lamm can produce Grüners with high levels of density and concentration. Tasted in June of this year, the Lamm was exhibiting that concentration balanced by a brightness of acidity, with fruity notes of nectarine, pear, and Fuji apple surging forth on the palate, gliding towards a lengthy finish. Would be delicious paired with roasted Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, epic cheese platters. Cari Bernard
A Smaragd in everything but name, this is Prager at its most ornate and heady -- going into the stylistic realm of some of his neighbors, especially FX Pichler or Hirtzberger. Fear not though, as rather than translate all that ripeness into an unwieldy amount of alcohol, Toni Bodenstein opted to stop fermentation before it was totally complete, leading to a perfectly balanced wine they would call "Feinherb" across the border in Germany. Bodenstein likens it to the 1990 Klaus, which is no faint praise, to be sure. Built to last in the cellar for many, many years. -jfr Totally in agreement with John, this 'lieblich' bottling is truly unique and is aging well. Opened last month (12/2018) with friends and Chinese food, it did not disappoint. Although darker in color than expected, the wine is fascinatingly opulent, layered, balanced, and has settled in nicely. Highly recommended. Cari Bernard
A Smaragd in everything but name, this is Prager at its most ornate and heady -- going into the stylistic realm of some of his neighbors, especially FX Pichler or Hirtzberger. Fear not though, as rather than translate all that ripeness into an unwieldy amount of alcohol, Toni Bodenstein opted to stop fermentation before it was totally complete, leading to a perfectly balanced wine they would call "Feinherb" across the border in Germany. Bodenstein likens it to the 1990 Klaus, which is no faint praise, to be sure. Built to last in the cellar for many, many years. -jfr
Totally in agreement with John, this 'lieblich' bottling is truly unique and is aging well. Opened last month (12/2018) with friends and Chinese food, it did not disappoint. Although darker in color than expected, the wine is fascinatingly opulent, layered, balanced, and has settled in nicely. Highly recommended. Cari Bernard
The 2010 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre is from very old vines and also from approximately 50 year-old vines planted by M. Boyer at 10,000 plants per hectare. There is a long fermentation without extraction, the juice remains in cuve until spring, then spends six months in old barrels followed by two to three years in cement vat. These are wines made in the lighter "claret" style of the 19th century, although the 2010 shows an incredible density of flavor, given the less-extracted style. Upon opening the wine shows subtle aromas of earth, red currant and cherry fruit with licorice and brown spice. The palate is deep and quite expressive with black cherry, strawberry, earth, licorice and mineral flavors, quite Burgundian in texture. The finish is very long with lingering tart cherry, sous-bois and mineral flavors. After two days open (re-corked) the aromas have broadened with prune, ripe cherry, tobacco, spice and rose and the palate is intense with red and black fruit liqueur, spice box and earth and ending with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. Delicious now with a long decant, this will be an extraordinary mature wine, best perhaps 2035 - 2050. David Lillie
This is a great Bordeaux to bring to your Holiday parties! Château Fonroque is a superb certified biodynamic and organic estate near Saint-Émilion. Owned by the Moueix family since 1931, the estate is a proponent of traditional wine-making techniques with hand harvesting, spontaneous yeasts, and limited use of new oak. An elegant Bordeaux with precise minerality, the wine is a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Franc (20%) of 35-year-old vines planted on limestone soils with some portions of clay on the hillside of the vineyard. The wine is fermented with native yeast in concrete vats and then aged in oak (with 30% new), keeping the freshness of the vintage. The resulting wine is a Bordeaux with energy and tension, bright calcareous minerality, great acidity and grippy tannin. On the nose, the bouquet is complex and lively with crunchy cranberry and black cherry, tart dark berries, dried tobacco leaves, Moroccan spices, earth, purple flower and savory notes. Drinking beautifully now, pair this wine with classic fare, such a steak, roasted rack of lamb, duck breast and full-flavored cheese, or age it for several years (7 years or more). Caroline Coursant
Château Gombaude-Guillot, a renowned Pomerol estate, owned by the Bélevier family for several centuries, is the perfect illustration of classic, gorgeous Pomerol. Surrounded by illustrous estates (Chateau La Gay, Vieux Chateau Certan), the domaine has a superb terroir of gravel, flint, and clay. The estate is certified organic and follows biodynamic practices. Claire Laval, who currently manages the estate, believes in authentic farming with no use of herbicides or fungicides, low yields, and a clear respect of the ecosystem. The Pomerol is a blend of Merlot (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%) from 40-year-old vines and shows off the beautiful gravel minerality of the terroir. All grapes are harvested by hand and fully destemmed. After natural fermentation in concrete and stainless steel vats for 3-4 weeks, the wine is aged in French oak barrels (around 50% new oak) for an extended period, with no filtering and minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. The resulting wine is rich, complex and luscious with an elegant bouquet of rich dark berries and plums, earth, spice, gorgeous gravel minerality, nice acidity and silky tannins. The finish is long and beautiful. A superb wine for great occasions. Drink now or age it for 10+ years. Caroline Coursant
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When Sauternes of this quality ages, it gains a lot of complexity of aroma and flavor. The 1988 is now in – sorry! – a sweet spot for drinking, with mouth-watering aromas of stone fruist and nuts; it’s quite rich on the palate but there is enough tart acidity to make the wine taste fresh. A classic French pairing is to serve this with foie gras, liver pate, or blue cheese, but we have also loved Sauternes with fruit desserts and with custard/pudding.
The Meursault lieu-dit Les Casses Têtes is located on the hillside above the premier cru Les Gouttes d'Or and next to Le Tesson. The soils are thin and rocky producing wines of great energy and lift.Green-gold robe. White flowers, honeysuckle, lemon blossom, faint creaminess on the nose with aromas of wet stone, citrus peel and pith following. This is bright and cool-toned aromatically, and not just a bit reticent on opening. The palate is nervy and electric on the attack with a salty mineral cast, followed by flavors of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and hints of green tea on a lean, albeit concentrated mid-palate with a pleasing bit of bitterness on the succulent, rising finish. This is mouth-watering and has a coiled tension that hints at greater complexity to accompany the vibrant, juicy character at the moment. I like the energy and suspect this will put on weight and benefit from short to mid-term aging and beyond. On day 2 the wine has picked up weight and gras with more stone fruit flavors and still more mineral spice notes and layered complexity. The aromatics have taken on more dimension as well with richer fruit, a touch of toast, and a hint of sea spray. There is far more here than meets the eye, so I'd decant if enjoying now or age for a few years to allow the elements to knit. Perhaps not cut from the same cloth as the excellent 2014, but fantastic energy and surprising depth the longer it's open. Paired with pan-roasted scallops, braised leeks, and Sea Island grits. Would likely be a splendid pairing with sautéed flounder and brown butter or poulet à la creme. For lovers of well-priced, pure Burgundies, Lafouge is always worth investigating. John McIlwain
One of my favorites wines from the vintage and if anyone is thinking of a great gift for the Burgundy lover, this is a fine selection. The 2016 Fichet Meursault Les Tessons has a gold-green robe. Upon opening there’s a fair amount of reduction with aromas of citrus, ripe apple, and stone, which give way after a couple of hours to ripe orchard fruit, hazelnut, wet stones, and lemon curd. The mid-weight palate offers a firm core of minerality with fine density and pure, vibrant ripe fruit that offers a perfect balance of richness to accompany a deeply stony, palate-staining finish. This is a truly beautiful Tessons that should age effortlessly. I love Fichet’s wines, but this is truly beautiful and emotionally satisfying. I’d lay this down for 5-8 years and enjoy for the next 15-20. A truly fantastic Tessons and shows just how adept Jean-Philippe Fichet is in even hugely difficult vintages. John McIlwain
Les Faconnières, planted in 1948, is located beneath Clos St. Denis. 50% whole cluster. This is always the most stylish of Virgile Lignier's premier crus with a good deal of the class of the grand crus. The 2016 is effusively perfumed with aromas of black and red hedge fruits, red plum, cassis, spicebox, and freshly turned soil. The mid-weight, concentrated palate is distinctly stony, with a ferrous minerality under-girding perfectly ripe, supple fruit and proceeding to an impeccably balanced and persistent finish. This is a satisfying, serious, albeit lovely Faconnières, which should reward cellaring for 8-10 years and drinking well beyond. John McIlwain
From an organically farmed 1.27 hectare plot in the center of Bressandes. Dark ruby robe to meniscus. Deeply pitched, dark-fruited, brambly nose with notes of oolong tea and game with hints of dusty violets. The mid-weight palate shows a good concentration, with ripe plum and blackberry fruit flavors wrapped around a core of punchy minerality and spice leading to a sapid and mouthwatering finish. This has that savory/hedge fruit/and stony character of Bressandes and offers a lot of charm and terroir delineation without a crazy tariff. A knockout with poulet grand-mère and cheese afterwards, but I would enjoy this with pork and mustard, or soy sauce chicken. This is a fine value and a worth addition to the table and the cellar!
Hugues Godmé 2009 Les Alouettes Saint Bets Brut is a single vineyard blanc de blancs from Villers-Marmery near the border with Verzy. The soils of this climat are very chalky with little topsoil. The grapes are farmed biodynamically, vinified in neutral oak with native yeasts, with no malolactic fermentation, and bottled with low sulfur. There is an electric sense of chalky minerality to this Champagne. While there is a degree of richness to the wine that hints at Verzy, and a silken quality on the palate derived from its time in wood, ultimately a cool, deft sense of fruit and chalkiness defines the nose and palate. Still a bit taut, there are floral and citrus oil notes on the nose, followed by Meyer lemon and a subtle salinity on the palate. The mousse is fine and the finish long, complex, and supple. This should shine brightly with a bit more time in the bottle. John McIlwain
Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Grand Vallée de la Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms the without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2015 vintage and balances nicely the classic richness Damery and ripeness of the vintage with undertones of minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. John McIlwain
If you'd like to explore the terroirs and character of the Côte des Blancs, Diebolt-Vallois is a good place to start. Jacques Diebolt started the domaine with his wife in 1960 and has a collection of well-situated plots in Cramant, Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cuis and Epernay, per writer Peter Liem, From these holdings he and his son and daughter fashion classically styled Champagnes. The crown jewel is the Fleur de Passion, a Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs from a selection of old vine plots in Cramant (Pimonts, Buzons, Goutte d’Or, Rouillées, Fourches and Gros Monts per champagneguide.net). These selections are vinified and aged in used oak barrels without malolactic fermentation, and bottled unfiltered and unfined. The resulting wines are taut, nervy, towering expressions of Cramant terroir. Uncompromising in its youth, Fleur de Passion is structured, chiseled, and profoundly chalky. With time in the bottle, it reals a suave texture, deep minerality and nuanced pure fruit. The 2008 only hints at its potential, with whiffs of lemon blossom, and white apricot and chalk, the palate is densely mineral and coiled, while refined. This is a Champagne that needs quite a few years in the bottle to reveal its breed, but should dazzle in a decade and beyond. John McIlwain
100% Chardonnay from Vincent Couche's parcels in Montgeux, biodynamically farmed, fermented with native yeasts in a combination of barrel and tank, and aged on the lees for 9 years. The wine winse has a pale yellow robe soft mousse and fine bead. The nose offers an array of citrus peel and orchard fruit aromas with notes of brioche and a hint of flinty mineral smoke. The midweight palate is supple and rich with ripe tropical fruit flavors giving way to notes lemon curd and chalk on the broad, expansive, persistent finish. I like the concentration and cut here as this is a compelling expression of the distinctive Montgeux terroir. John McIlwain
I have a not-so-secret love for Champagnes made from Pinot Meunier. Godmé's single vineyard expression, Les Romaines 1er cru, is an especially stunning example. The biodynamically farmed vineyard located in Villedommange has calcareous soils which lend a particularly savory minerality to the wine, offsetting the sometimes over-generous nature of the variety. And in 2008 this minerality offers great cut and energy to an already vibrant Champagne. There is impeccable balance here; ripe fruit framed by the nearly pointillistic earthiness, the 2 grams of dosage is barely perceptible. This is classy, harmonious, and long, speaking vividly of place. -John McIlwain
The 2015 "Le Grand Pin" is one of the great Chateauneufs of the vintage! Every now and then we like to share John Livingstone-Learmonth's reviews in DrinkRhone, very British and always accurate..."bright, clear red, very Grenache. This has an über perfumed, Pinot-esque aroma – it has a real child of the sands purity, is arresting. There is great definition in its red fruit, raspberry. This is exciting: it’s a complete symphony on its own. The palate bears stylish red fruits with a silken bearing. This is ACE. It has a most beguiling nature – back I go to the 1960s Châteauneufs of my youth. It has a most belle spherical harmony, beautiful detail, and wholesome, fine juice – way to go wine, where Châteauneuf should be once more after the lost years. Pinot meets Grenache here; it is exceptional, has a total harmony." This will cellar beautifully, perhaps best 2025 to 2035+
'Elis' is short for Elisabeth, the previous owner of this parcel of 78-year-old Sylvaner, grown on gravely, sandy soils; 50% of which was hand-harvested early and allowed to ferment on the skins for one week. Fermentation and aging in used barrel, no fining, no filtration, no problem (also no sulfur added). A very, very tiny amount made, and we've ended up with just a case. If you love Sylvaner (and you should), this is mandatory drinking. White tea, pear, quince skin on the nose, elegant and concentrated notes of apricot, quince, and white strawberry on the powerful, lengthy finish. An incredibly sophisticated wine from such young winemakers, we eagerly look forward to future vintages! Cari Bernard
What an absolute treat to get to check in on this beauty from 2009! Harvest for the Auslese contained around 40% botrytised grapes from the southeast-facing Rothenpfad parcel on the Marienburg. The nose is redolent with muddled fresh mint and the wine is creamy and lively, with soft, rich peaches, honeyed pear, elegant depth and layers. Enjoy now to blow minds with your cheese course or fruit-based desserts, or hold for at least ten more years! Cari Bernard
Sourced from multiple sites on the Marienburg, this is the highest Prädikat Clemens produced in 2016. Fresh and light, this Spätlese drinks more like a Kabinett: the high acidity balancing the notes of ripe peach, mango, and strawberry candy with a delicate touch--a testament to the charming elegance of the 2016 vintage. Cari Bernard
The amphitheater-shaped Kirchspiel vineyard faces south-southeast with soils of limestone, marl, and clay. Jochen Dreissigacker farms these vines organically, and all spontaneous fermentation and aging occurred in stainless steel for this vintage. This is truly spellbinding Riesling with the beautiful concentration of 2015 balanced by bright acidity and the slightest bit of residual sugar. Honeysuckle, orange oil, mango and just-ripe peaches dance on the palate and linger on for ages. A delightful bottle that should age with grace for the long-term, and a thoughtful gift for the Riesling-head in your life. Cari Bernard
Schimbock is a west-facing, slightly cooler, tiny parcel of gray and blue slate terraces with ungrafted, old vines with smaller, looser bunches (less-prone to botrytis). The grapes are pressed in a basket press over the span of 18 hours, and the wine ages in old fuder (1000L), whereas Daniel's other wines age in stainless tank. Three and a half days of skin contact gives beautiful structure and balance to the notes of soft white cherry, nectarine, and underripe pineapple--delicious! Cari Bernard
Huet's Vouvray "Le Mont" is one of the great white wines of the world, especially in the Demi-Sec and Moelleux iterations, and 2002 is a classic vintage for sweet wines in the Loire. There is an extraordinary balance between vibrant fruit, perfect acidity and a firm mineral core that makes this wine delicious now or in twenty years.
Forward and open which is unusual for Constance. Beautifully knit palate and very long with exceptional purity and at least 50 years ahead of it. DL
We're exstatic to have this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon (pressed at Bregeon), the wine underwent a slower fermentation than at Bregeon, and was then aged 42 months on the lees. From Juliette Pope of David Bowler Wines "We tasted the 2014 Gorges out of vat, along with everything else, last January (2018) with Marc and Rémi, and it blew me away. Marc waxed quite poetic, declaring it his favorite of his bottlings right now, along with the Château-Thébaud." From Bregeon's vines on Gabbro with clay topsoils (in conversion to organic) the 2014 Gorges is an austere yet dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, melon and petrol notes in addition to bitter lemon, stone and white fruits. The palate is dense with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! David Lillie
From 50-75 year old vines located in the sweet spot of the Mont Damnés vineyard (bottom of the slope, near Clos La Neore of Vatan), this is usually the most powerful wine from Boulay's lineup. One of the very best Sancerres, drink now or cellar ten to fifteen years.
This is a gorgeaous Sancerre Rouge, a product of Vincent Gaudry's wonderful biodynamic farming. Wild yeast fermentation, aging 12 months in used barrels. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, violet and spice, with a vibrant mineral character on the palate from the limestone soils. The fruit is sappy and dense but not heavy, with plum skin, black cherry and earthy flavors. The finish is long with bright chalky red fruits and refreshing acidity. Drink now, served quite cool, with roast chicken, grilled meats, veal tartare and mild cheeses or hold for five to ten years for a mature experience. This is a delicious Pinot Noir from great terroirs in Sancerre! David Lillie
This 100% Baboso Negro wine coming from young vines planted on sandy volcanic and red clay soil, at around 450m elevation in the Valle de la Orotava D.O. is a superb and minerally vibrant wine! Hand harvested, the grapes are partially destemmed (80%), fermented with native yeast in 600L tanks and macerated for 21 days with manual pigeage. The wine is aged for 14 months in old French barrels and then bottled with no filtration. Compare to 2015, 2016 was a mild year in the Canary Islands, allowing the wine to fully express its superb volcanic minerality and acidity. The wine reveals immediately on the palate a gorgeous bouquet of crunchy red currant, tart boysenberry, herbs de province, anise, mint, and continues on to finish with exquisite flavors of musky rose petals, smoke, salt, earth and black pepper. A delicious wine to discover if you are not yet a fan of Baboso Negro! Pair this wine with grilled chicken, roast goose with apple, minestrone soup or vegetable pork stir fry. This is a perfect gift to bring to your Holiday dinner! Caroline Coursant
The Sorpresa is a long-aged Albillo Real, stored in a small solera started in 2004 when Ruben Diaz found a barrel of 100+ year-old Albillo in a cellar in Cebreros. This ancient Albillo is the base wine of the solera, which he refreshes regularly (though not every year) with young Albillo. Some of the barrels develop a thin layer of flor. He bottles sacas of 200 bottles at a time. Saca #6 was bottled in 2014, pulled from a barrel refreshed in 2004 and 2007. A perfect wine for customers interested in Amontillado or Palo Cortado style sherries. But note that, unlike sherry, Ruben's vinos de tonel are not fortified! Ariana Rolich
From one of the most historic vineyards situated in the highest reaches of the Santa Cruz Mountains, featuring panoramic views of Silicon Valley, Mount Eden's 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most tightly-structured and elegant wines coming from California. The mature vines, planted in 1979 and 1984 from budwood sourced in the 1890s from Château Margaux, this wine has extraordinary depth, moving through scintillating layers of blackberry, bramble, graphite, and cedar, all dusted with the Central Coast's ever-present aroma of bay laurel. Large, robust, and tannic, but with strong, broad-shouldered fruit singing through, this is a fantastic wine to have now with steak after a couple hours' decant or as a gift for a serious collector who can put it away for 10-30 years. Andrew Farquhar
Diogenes Ridge is located at 1800 feet above St. Helena in the Vaca mountains, this Cabernet is athletic and powerful, but without any excess weight. 15% whole cluster, spontaneous open-top ferment, eighteen days on the skins, and eighteen months in 50% new French oak barrels give this wine a force that is brought to an exquisite tension by its incredible acid backbone. Powerful, tannic, and clocking in under 14% ABV, this wine is extraordinarily balanced and capable of many years of cellaring. Traditional black currant is furled in chocolate shavings, hearth ash, peppercorn, cherry pit, samovar, and alabaster dust. Tiny production (two barrels) and alertness in the cellar have produced a fantastic expression of Napa Cabernet that bridges stylistic tendencies and generations. Andrew Farquhar
David Hirsch founded his vineyard in 1980 on the windswept Sonoma Coast, and is widely considered the region's eminence grise. Farming, living, and vinifying out on the wild coast above Fort Ross, his San Andres Fault Pinot Noir is considered the flagship wine of this estate winemaker, sourced from 23 of Hirsch's 61 separate vineyard blocks perched just above the fogline. This is perhaps the most iconic Sonoma Coast Pinot, with fine redcurrant and delicate cherry fruit enumerated within extraordinarily linear silken tannins. The structural architecture is written in heroic alexandrine verse, with undercurrents of bramble, redwood-needle, wet stone, and snuffed candle-wick. Serve with duck, roast pork, Dungeness crab, or turkey in mole poblano. Andrew Farquhar
Portola Springs Vineyard is a consistent standout in the excellent range of Thomas Fogarty Chardonnays. 2012 has riper, sunnier fruit tone than the austere 2011, without sacrificing any of Portola Springs' cool mineral core and impressive, driving acidity, owing to the low-yielding, late-ripening, nearly 40-year-old vines planted on basalt and shale. Complex and rich enough to handle poultry and pork dishes, with refreshing energy to compliment seafood and veggies. Ariana Rolich