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This email offers a grab-bag of new arrivals, many of which offer sensational value for everyday drinking, as well as a few of our favorites that have not found their way into previous offers, but that very much deserve your attention!
Of course we include some delicious natural wines from the Loire Valley - from estates practising organic and Biodynamic farming and vinifications with zero or minimal SO2, including Les Granges aux Belles, Domaine Bellivière, Philippe Tessier, les Vins Contés and Domaine du Mortier.
A new shipment has arrived from our organic friends at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. Always sensational values, their 2017 Anjou Blanc must be the World's Greatest Value in Chenin Blanc. 25 cases are available - stock up for the summer! And we know you're out there, all you lovers of demi-sec Cabernet Franc rosé, there must be at least 3 or 4 of you! But the 2017 Fresche Cabernet d'Anjou is so delicious that Eben promises to drink it all if no one else does... (The Anjou Blanc and Cabernet d'Anjou arrive on May 1st)
For those of you not familiar with the great Sancerres of Vincent Gaudry, we offer two superb Biodynamic wines, the 2017 Sancerre Blanc "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" and the vibrant Sancerre Rouge "Vincentgetorix." Introduced to Vincent by Pascaline Lepeltier of Racines NY (Meilleure Sommelière de France 2018), we have become huge fans of this estate whose wines are currently among the finest in the appellation.
And we're very happy to have received another shipment of the great natural wines of Franck Pascal at Le Jonc Blanc. This estate is one of the most respected natural wine producers of France, creating vibrant, living wines that are a joy to drink and that offer superb value as well. The 2016 Sens du Fruit Rouge is made with zero added SO2 and the Blanc with only about 10mg - they are oustanding natural wines!
And from the Coteaux du Gresivaudun come the wonderful wines of Thomas Finot, today we're featuring the delicious "Tracteur Rouge" and "Tracteur Blanc" both of which are fabulous values for joyous everyday drinking. Very little is available so grab some of these delicious "house wines' before they disappear!
(All wines are in stock, except the Domaine du Freshe Anjou Blanc and Cabernet d'Anjou, which arrive on May 1st)
Domaine Vincent Gaudry, located in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic and Biodynamic certified beginning in 1993. The 2017 "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" is from 50+ year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and is fermented naturally with wild yeasts. This is an outstanding Sancerre showing elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince, almond, citrus and lime-flower, really quite lovely. The palate is fresh and lively with dried pear, flint, smoke and herbal flavors, very silky and elegant and happily unlike most modern Sancerres. The stone and subtle fruit flavors continue in the refreshing finish, making this a superb food wine with anything from oysters to grilled fish and fish and chicken in sauce. And Crottin de Chavignol, of course. Highly recommended and a good value! David Lillie
From a vineyard site named after a battleground in the War of the Vendee, La Chausee Rouge is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grolleau. Grapes go through carbonic maceration, with juice drawn off daily. The wine is light and pretty with red currant and strawberry fruit, just gorgeous and much too easy-drinking. Serve quite cool with just about anything...
This is a full-bodied and very delicious Cabernet Franc from our organic friends Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. "Red wine for cellaring, powerful and rich" says the back label, and indeed this is a ripe and well-structured Cabernet Franc that is delicious now and will benefit from five to ten years of aging. The wine shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry liqueur with hits of violet, black pepper and citrus. The palate is supple and dense but balanced by bright acidity under the ripe berry fruits. Serve cool with roast chicken, stews and grilled meats and put a few in the cellar for five or ten years. David Lillie
We know that we're not supposed to like off-dry or demi-sec rosés, but this wine is so delicious we're going to drink it anyhow, served with grilled foods, Asian foods, mild cheeses or sipped by itself as a yummy aperitif on a warm summer day. Mostly Cabernet Franc, it's bursting with lovely red-currant and berry fruit with just enough sweetness to make it go down oh so easy. And it's a sensational value at $12.99!
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2017 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, dried pear, stone and honeyed citrus and minerals that continue in the long finish. A simply delicious dry Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc... DL
A lovely Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil from an estate doing fabulous organic vineyard work and natural low or no-sulfur vinifications; 40 year-old massale-selection vines in a parcel of gravel/clay soils, aged in cement vat and in old barrels. This is a lovely version of the Mortier "les Graviers" showing pretty, ripe blackberry and red currant aromas, with plum, violet and citrus, with a generous dose of earth and funk. The palate is round and supple but with bright acidity, showing lush berry fruits that continue in the long finish with earth and citrus. Delicious now, served cool, with chicken, rabbit and pork dishes, chacuterie and mild cheeses. Age for five to eight years for a more earthy and complex experience. DL
This rare and delicious Pineau d'Aunis is from 40 to 60 year-old vines on heavy clay soils in the Coteaux-du-Loir. Yields are extremely low, giving good concentration to this wine from a delicate grape. Long fermentation with pigeage, aged 12 to 18 months in old barrels. The 2017 shows dense bright red-currant fruit with plum, violet and earth framed in quite firm acidity. Don't be in any hurry to drink this vibrant young wine - best perhaps 2025 to 2035 - serve with charcuterie, lamb terrine, guinea hen, full-flavored cheeses.
The Tessier "Phil'en Bulle" is an inviting Methode Ancestrale made from Romorantin and Menu Pineau. The wine is bottled after one year sur lie, with zero added sulfur. The 2017 version is a clever amalgam of the familiar and atavistic with beckoning aromas of butterscotch candies, honeycomb, hay, cinnamon and lemon peel. The palate is sumptuous yet energized with a jovial sweetness that evokes the texture of a perfectly ripened asian pear. The polyphony of sweet golden apples, tangy citrus, brown sugar, and caramel flavors finishes with a bitter note of yarrow and camomile. A bottle to swig with relish! Amanda Bowman
90% Pineau d'Aunis with 10% Gamay, this wine is a beautiful bright ruby in the glass, with the nose and palate showing a wonderful mélange of red fruit, spice, and floral notes of rose and violets. The wine is fresh and mouthwatering, though there is some structure here, with the tannins quite apparent, but very well integrated. Once again, Olivier Lemasson was able to keep alcohol levels incredibly low (11%) and overall this is incredibly pretty. A perfect way to start an evening, this is also a very versatile food wine, and it paired particularly well with soba noodle stir fry. Oskar Kostecki
What started many years ago as a hodge podge homage to the Renault R12 (a notoriously unhip car from the 1970s) has become a delicious success for winemaker Olivier Lemasson, and his Vins Contés project in the Loire Valley. The blend is known to change, as it's essentially put together based on what fruit Olivier and his friends are able to harvest. This year, it's Grolleau and Côt (Malbec). Very fun to drink, with red fruit and full flavor, balanced acidity and minimal tannin. A perfect red for heralding in the Summer. Eben Lillie
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 is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir near Bergerac. No SO2 is used except a tiny addition before bottling. The 2016 Les Sens du Fruit shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, spiced pear, melon, almond and honeyed citrus. The palate is round and ripe with stone and earthy flavors underlying ripe pear and creamy lemon fruit and is backed by firm acidity. The finish is long, ripe and refreshing. This is a complex and delicious natural wine that will shine with shellfish, a platter of cheeses or a fish or chicken in sauce, just delicous! David Lillie
A beautiful natural wine from Isabelle and Franck Pascal at Jonc Blanc. Always a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, raised in large 1500L barrels. The 2016 is super aromatic, with cocoa and earth on the nose, a deep purple hue in the glass with rich silky blackberry fruit. For anyone who is searching for natural wines but prefers to drink Cabs, Malbecs and the like, this is the wine for you! Biodynamic farming, no sulfur added... it's a natural wine through and through (yes not every natural wine is 11% alc. carbonic Gamay!). Just fresh enough to drink on it's own, this will be a knockout with a light chill and paired with grilled food this summer. Eben Lillie
In 2007, the energetic and talented Thomas Finot discovered the terroirs of the Coteaux Grésivaudan - a valley with steep mountainsides extending northeast from Grenoble, just north of Savoie. Here he is rescuing local grape varieties such as Verdesse, Persan and Etraire de la Dhuy and also making delicious and affordable vin de soif - in this case the Tracteur Rouge, a light, refreshing blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The 2017 shows a lovely ruby red color in the glass and offers pretty aromas of muddled strawberry, raspberry and tart cherry with hints of violet, earth, and spice. The palate is bright and slightly peppery showing strawberry and red currant fruit with a nice lift of earth and citrus in the finish. It's lovely, served quite cool, with charcuterie, burgers, chicken and cheeses from Comté to Raclette. David Lillie
Thomas Finot makes this refreshing "tractor white" from Chardonnay, Jacquère and Pinot Gris grown in the Coteaux Grésivaudan, northeast of Grenoble. This is a delightful everyday wine, featuring lovely aromas of pear, quince, almond, hay and brown spice. The palate is ripe but balanced and lively with bright acidity, showing flavors of pear, melon, almond, citrus and stone. Serve happily by itself or with fish in sauce, roast chicken, salads and mild cheeses. David Lillie
Thomas Finot, who is working with rare local varieties in Isère, also makes this vibrant Pinot Noir from organic grapes in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan northeast of Grenoble. The region is known for very warm days but very cool nights, producing reds that are ripe and sappy but possessing bright acidity and good balance. The 2016 Pinot Noir is a lovely wine showing aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with a bit of oak, violet and citrus. The palate is dense and supple with slightly roasty cherry and red currant fruit with brown spice, plum. pepper and citrus. The finish is ripe and long with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. Serve cool with coq au vin, steaks and grilled foods, stews and tagines, cellaring of three to five years should be interesting.
According to the hefty Wine Grapes book (Robinson/Harding/Vouillamoz), there was a total of about 2 hectares (5 acres) of Verdesse in the world as of 2008. Thanks in part to our friend Thomas Finot, the number is now between 3 - 4 hectares. Thomas started with an old plantation of about 2 ares (200 square meters, or .05 acres) and now has about 1.5 hectares, mostly of younger vines he planted. Verdesse is a grape that, according to Thomas, is green for a long time, and typically ripens late, gaining a golden and amber color at the "very last moment." From Thomas' experience, Verdesse typically rests with a small amount of sugar, and has a good deal of richness. The grapes were harvested in October and the wine rests at 8 grams of residual sugar. Luckily Verdesse has acid for days, so the effect is more of delicate richness and ripe stone fruit, and the sugar is barely perceptible. A fascinating white and a great opportunity to taste a truly obscure and rare variety. -Eben Lillie