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We're excited to offer some fantastic wines from Porter Creek Vineyards, located in the Russian River Valley. Now one of the most recognizable AVAs in American wine, George Davis bought his first vineyards in 1977, six years before the area was given AVA status in 1983 and a very long time before the widespread explosion of popularity, planting, and investment that occurred around the turn of the 21st century. While ascending in popularity, the Russian River Valley AVA skewed in the direction of velvety, dark-fruited, richer styles, but Porter Creek has remained linear and elegant.
In 1997, George's son Alex took over the winemaking responsibilities, and has endeavored to keep the estate true to its founding principles, with one significant change: conversion to biodynamic viticulture. To this day, the wines retain extraordinary balance and a remarkably silken texture. This is in part due to Alex's having worked in France for several years, including with Christophe Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny and Marcel Guigal in Côte-Rôtie. From his time in Europe Alex learned some important tenets. First, the harder you work in the vineyard, the less you need to do in the cellar. Second, if you harvest when the grapes are at the right sugar-acid balance, there will be no need for adjustments. Lastly, while many in California use gases like nitrogen or argon to protect their juice, Alex believes that a little air exposure early on builds oxygen resistance in the long term, and so he does not use these gases. I have found the wines to have excellent reserve, and definitely benefit from cellaring. Recently I had the opportunity to taste the Fiona Hill vineyard Pinot Noir from 2007, and the fruit character, structure, and the ineffable silkiness that is a hallmark of this estate were all transformed in a symphony of integration.
The first of the wines we have to offer today is the 2015 RRV Chardonnay Old Vine, with fruit sourced from their own vineyards and a little from an organically farmed vineyard in Green Valley, the coolest and foggiest sub-region of the Russian River Valley. This wine is whole cluster pressed and aged in 25% new French oak for 11 months. In addition we're offering the highly coveted 2016 George's Hill Vineyard RRV Chardonnay, a powerful, searing testament to picking at the right time. This is estate fruit sourced from a vineyard named in honor of Porter Creek's founder.
Next we have some awesome Pinot Noirs, both 100% estate fruit. The 2015 RRV Pinot Noir is a classic Pinot, with fantastic fruit, and, as with most Porter Creek wines, is aged in one-quarter new French oak barrels for 11 months. In addition we're offering the 2014 Fiona Hill Vineyard RRV Pinot Noir, one of the finest California Pinots I've ever tasted, containing multitudes within its immense length.
Lastly, we have their super juicy 2015 Mendocino Old Vine Carignan, which is a bright and absolutely crushable coda to a quartet of awesome classics. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from estate fruit and organically farmed vineyards in the Green Valley sub-AVA of Russian River. Elegantly textured, with stylish apple and pear fruit mixing with a hint of salinity and crushed oyster shells, this is a perfect companion for heavier seafood dishes, particularly anything involving lobster. Whole cluster pressed and aged for 11 months in 25% new French barrique. What impresses me most about this Chardonnay is its reserve. Medium-bodied, the oak shows itself more in its textural integration than on the palate. 450 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from the estate's George's Hill vineyard, named in honor of founder George Davis who purchased the land in 1977, this biodynamically farmed vineyard site produces some of the most exciting Chardonnay in the entire Russian River. This wine is big on texture and has great aromatic power, with notes of green apple, almond, and darker mineral, oily, almost saline notes. On the palate this wine has great, peppy acidity, though it is not quite light-bodied. A certain breadth comes through on the palate, with ripe peach character filling out the back end as it slips into a long, softly nuanced finish that cycles between cream, citrus, and hazelnut. Tastes great now, but will continue to improve in the cellar for at least ten years. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from vineyards of clay over schist, shale, and granite bedrock, this fabulous Russian River Pinot was spontaneously fermented open-top (1/3 whole cluster), with a four day cold soak. Following this were 11 months in 25% new French barrique. A brawny, grippy Pinot Noir, in no ways heavy, this is a densely structured wine with tart pie cherry and cranberry notes. This wine has a way of reminding me of a lot of great California Pinot while also being structured somewhat differently, with a higher tone, more nervous energy, and a finish as tightly wound as a well-thrown football. While the fruit is definitely present it's wrapped around a surprisingly spare mineral core. Andrew Farquhar
Fiona Hill is a meticulously planted, steep hillside vineyard with an ideal southern face, situated on Porter Creek’s estate. Hard clay topsoil with fractured stone bedrock places continual stress on these Pinot vines, resulting in a very expressive, unique single vineyard expression. Named after winemaker Alex Davis's daughter, this is a wine of multiple tonalities, at once containing finely-etched mineral character while also tasting like a handful of freshly-picked strawberries. Very elegantly structured, the tannins come up slowly but linger a while throughout the long, silken, resonant finish. Aged in 25% new French oak for 11 months. 420 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
This bright, ripe, juicy old-vine Carignane is sourced from biodynamically farmed grapes from Mendocino County. Rich, rustic, and juicy, this is a perfect barbecue wine, as it has the tannins to compete with chargrilled meats but clocking in at only 13.3% alcohol. Quite plush, this wine has the extraordinary fruit concntration unique to old-vine Carignane. Carignane is traditionally considered to be a lighter grape, but in fact, at about fifty years of age it begins to concentrate rapidly, and these super-old vines create wines of stunning depth. This quixotic wine works just as well with a slight chill in the sun as with hearty beef stews. Enjoy! Andrew Farquhar