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As you determine what resolutions to make and which ones to break, we here at Chambers Street Wines have made a resolute commitment to an OFF-Dry January, wherein we enjoy the myriad pleasures of off-dry wines (and ciders): lower alcohol, incredible food-pairing ability, and at the end of the day (or a lazy breakfast) these wines are simply refreshing!! We hope you can find a place in your heart (and on your dinner table) for these lovely bottles, both sparkling and still. Cheers!
Isabelle and Franck Pascal make outstanding and expressive natural wines from their biodynamically farmed vineyards in Bergerac, and this lively sparkling is a great example of their precise, low-intervention winemaking. The 2018 Bulle Rosé is a return to form from Jonc Blanc, after the 2017 showed quite differently due to frost damage in the vineyards that year. This year this delicate pét-nat is made with mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and a smaller portion of Sémillon (30%), and shows a lovely pink-orange color in the glass. The mousse is very delicate, and on the nose, ripe apple flesh, rose, and crushed strawberries are evident, while citrus, melon, and strawberry come to the fore on the slightly off-dry palate. The delicate bubbles make this an outstanding candidate for before-dinner drinking, or a fun pairing with appetizers or Chinese cuisine. Ben Fletcher
This charming, low-alcohol sparkler hails from the tiny appellation of Bugey (across from the Mont du Chat in Savoie). At 8% ABV this delicately sweet and exquisitely balanced pét-nat is the breakfast of champions, a companion while you prepare a feast, or the perfect solution to tricky dessert parings. The 2018 is a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. The wine pours a pleasing shade of magenta in the glass and offers up vivid aromas of purple wild flowers, raspberry patch, and mouth-watering grapefruit zest. The palate is light and fresh with flavors of sweet strawberries, raspberries, and crunchy blueberries on the attack then finishes with thirst-quenching mineral acidity. A purely enjoyable bottle at a great value. Serve chilled alongside fruit tarts, dark chocolate, or with tangy cheeses. Amanda Bowman
Philippe Tessier's "Phil'en Bulle" is an inviting Methode Ancestrale made from Romorantin and Menu Pineau. The wine is bottled after one year on the lees, with zero added sulfur. The 2018 beckons with aromas of butterscotch candies, honeycomb, hay, cinnamon and lemon peel, and shows a delicate mousse of soft bubbles. The palate is rich but energetic, with a jovial sweetness that evokes the texture of a perfectly ripened asian pear. The palate is a decadent combination of sweet golden apple, ripe pear, tangy citrus, brown sugar, and caramel flavors that finishes with a bitter note of herb and chamomile. Ben Fletcher
Eric Bordelet was a super star in the wine and restaurant world before shifting his attention to orchard fruits and returning to his home town in southern Normandy’s Domfrontais region. Here pears replace apples as the primary ingredient in both Cidre and Calvados because the pear tree’s deep root system tunnel easily into the region’s dry soils. This is a perfect starter on Thanksgiving, and great with the pies at the end - and with the very low alcohol, maybe a glass for the kids as well. Serve with cheese plates, charcuterie, seared scallops, delicate salads, roasted root vegetables. Did we mention it's great with pies and desserts too?
An apple cider from one of Normandy’s best, Tendre combines classic orchard flavors of ripe apples (Kermerien, Douce Moene, Frequin Rouge, Damelot, Marie Menard and 25 more) and a savory/sweet undercurrent of barley and dark honey. Compared to Bordelet’s pear offerings I find this to be more “beer-esque” than “wine-esque” so bring on the brats, or in true Norman fashion blood sausage, tripe, or perhaps for a lighter meal: crêpes. As with all his ciders, the farm is certified biodynamic and fermentation finishes in the bottle for a complex texture filled with small vivacious bubbles.
Cédric Le Bloas is making delicious ciders in Lannion, Brittany, France (check a map, it's WAY up there). His grandfather was a cidermaker, and although this didn't continue through his father's generation, Cedric found himself drawn back to Brittany after years spent away. Upon returning, Cedric and his wife Kate came upon four hectares of orchard for sale, with trees ranging in age from 25 to 40 years old. They've converted the orchards to certified organic farming and work with a mix of heirloom and local varieties. Apples are harvested by hand and the juice goes through a 'keeving process' (removal of pectin) to ensure a clarity and natural delicate sweetness to the finished product. Fermentation is spontaneous and the cider undergoes its second fermentation in bottle, no sulfur is added. 'Granit' rosé is in reference to the predominant soil type in the orchard (granite), and the medium salmon-rose color comes from a small addition of black currants. These fruits also come forth on the nose, alongside notes of black tea and cherry candy, the palate is pleasantly off-dry, with a surge of McIntosh and tart green apple, currant juice and just a slight hint of tannins on the finish. Cari Bernard
The Blettig vineyard is situated on a hill below the village, and is atypical for Beck-Hartweg in that there is no influence of granitic soils here. Instead there is a richer, loamy soil, lending to riper and less minerally-intense fruit. Classic exotic fruit aromas of figs, dates, and golden raisins, with about 15g RS, but it tastes like 5 or 6 grams due to the level of acidity. Though low in added SO2, I wouldn't consider this as part of their natural wine lineup. Instead, I see it as a textbook, slightly off-dry, Alsace Pinot Gris. -EL
Every few years Thierry Navarre makes a new batch of his late-harvest "Vin de Grenache" - this version is outrageous - it's an oxidative orange wine (!) showing a dark orange color and aromas of dried fruits - apricot and prune - brown spice, walnut, honey and wildflowers with slightly sweet palate of ripe black cherry, dried apricot, brown spice and minerals. (It can be kept for weeks re-corked in the fridge) Serve with dried fruits and nuts, strong cheeses or just enjoy by itself - only 36 bottles for the US. David Lillie
The grapes for this cuvée from Francois Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2018 it's fabulously ripe, dense and complex, and finished dry (for Vouvray) in 2018, with a technically sec level of 8 grams RS and a very firm 4.7 grams acidity. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very supple and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great Vouvray with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully! (The Pinon 1964 Demi-Sec is extraordiary now...) Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The bishop of Broni comes each year to sample Signore Maga's wines, and upon tasting the 2016 proclaimed it "mystical." So now Lino has a handmade plaque above his door that reads "We make mystical wine" and we as consumers have the opportunity to savor something divine. The 2016 will age tremendously. It is one of those vintages that has a touch of residual sugar, and a plumpness to the fruit quality. The nose is full of dark and enticing notes of plum, violet, black currant and baking spice. The palate is full of energy, with great acidity giving lift to the density; it also introduces red currant, ripe raspberry, dried orange peel, along with more nutmeg and spice. With a few hours open this wine harmonizes beautifully, carrying great complexity, softness, and depth. I've had this wine three times in the past two months and each bottle was spectacular. Just a baby right now, the 2016 will age for the next 40 years easily. If you do decide to open now (and it is delicious now), a few hour decant is highly recommended. Oskar Kostecki
Andreas Adam took on his family's estate with the 2000 vintage, revitalizing and restoring old-vine sites in the towns of Dhron and Piesporter. His sister, Barbara joined in 2013 and together they take care of both vineyards and cellar work. Grapes for the kabinett come from a terraced parcel in the Goldtröpchen, with vines planted in 1909, ungrafted. This is such a fantastic kabinett: bright and light with ripe mango, tangerines and orange zest, and an elegant, lengthy finish. Cari Bernard
Gernot's parcel of the Ellergrub is 2.2 hectares of ungrafted vines, over 80 years old. Farming is organic, fermentation is spontaneous, and the wine ages in a neutral oak barrels. In a shocking twist, the 2016 Ellergrub is slightly off-dry! The wine boasts a floral elegance and herbal freshness on the nose, yet is still quite dense and rich, with notes of yellow apricot, roses, and white peach skin giving way to a touch of citrus zest and strawberries on the finish. Cari Bernard
Grey sandstone and pebbles mark the Steinacker vineyard, which sits just across the road from the Saumagen vineyard, Koehler-Ruprecht's grand cru site. On the nose, hints of apricot and lime zest compliment a fresh smokiness. The palate has supple flavors of golden apple and cured apricot. Structurally, there is a delicious marriage between sweetness and focused, bright minerality. David H
New to the US, sourced from a parcel adjacent to Stirn on the Ayler Kupp. Fass 3 is that electric, ever-so-slightly off-dry Saar Riesling we love: bright notes of juicy tangerine and nectarine are focused and practically shimmer on the palate. A lively pairing for ceviche, fried chicken, salty snacks, dry hot pot. Cari Bernard
Fass 15, Stirn (forehead), comes from near the top of the Ayler Kupp where the hill curves around; the meager soils, cooler climate and wind at this altitude make for a site that is often harvested last. A nose flooded with gardenias and magnolia blossoms, sorrel, stone and wild strawberries, the Stirn is singing with zesty green plum and mango, key lime zest, grapefruit, and nectarine, great balance and tension built on a mineral core. Cari Bernard
Riesling sourced from the Steffensberg, Schlossberg, Taubenhaus, and Sonnenlay vineyards. The ripeness of the 2018 vintage gives us a lush and concentrated wine with a youthful acidity; playful and fruity with notes of ripe peaches, Fuji apple, tangerine juice, with tart lemonade on the lengthy finish. Should pair quite well with spicier cuisine, fried chicken, Thai noodle dishes. Cari Bernard
This is a Gewürztraminer that might just change a few hearts and minds about the grape. In the wrong hands, Gewürztraminer can become cloying and overpowering with the scent of Grandma's potpourri, but this wine from Kenny Likitprakong shows some serious restraint. Sourced entirely from the Rancho Llegado vineyard in Monterey County, the frequent cool winds of the area maintain the much needed acidity to balance this wine. Banyan was designed by Kenny and his father with their Thai heritage in mind, and as such this Gewürztraminer is the perfect pairing for South-east Asian cuisine or anything with a bit of spice to it. Though it is fermented nearly dry, it maintains a softness with notes of ripe nectarine, a touch of tropical fruit, sage, and bright, fresh gardenia blossoms. Michelle DeWyngaert