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I've spent some time in a wide variety of private wine cellars; so long as temperatures are cool and steady, the room is dark (when unoccupied), and the humidity isn't extreme in either direction, then they're all basically doing the same fine job. But very occassionally I've encountered cellars that (with no particular bells or whistles - no mosaics, wrought iron, or chandeliers) yield wines that are always in exceptional condition, that seem to offer just a little bit of extra perfection. Such is the case here: great wines, perfectly stored (and happily guaranteed).
Once again I have to remark that while 1998 sounds quite recent to my old ears, I do realize that it's 21 years ago, and so the wines of the period are in comfortable maturity - not too young, not too old - just about right where you'd want them. And for the most part the Rhone wines and the Bordeaux are not much more expensive - sometimes less - than the current vintages. This seems to me to be an ideal formula for wine drinking happiness! Jamie Wolff
10 hectares of vines. The Chateauneuf is Grenache 60%, Syrah 15%, Mourvedre 10%, and Counoise 5%, from vines 70-100 years old. Aged in large old barrels and barriques for 12-18 months; bottled unfiltered.
A great no-dosage Champagne, given an extra dimension from Larmandier's great Biodynamic work in the vineyard. Remarkably elegant and mineral on the palate, this is a wine-lover's Champagne that's far more satisfying than those more expensive brand-name tete-de-cuvees.
Lots of sweet red fruit aromas — and on the palate. Very dry, delicate, foamy; a real vin de terroir — like the Blanc de Blancs. Another remarkable wine. JW From www.larmandier.com: This technique is rarely used in Champagne: the Pinots are destemmed and left to macerate for about two days before the 'bleeding' is carried out. Then come the natural alcoholic fermentation in an enamel-lined steel vat, the malolactic fermentation and the maturation on the lees during the winter. The bottling takes place in May. After being aged in our cellars, the wine is disgorged at least 3 to 6 months before being marketed with a discreet dosage (3 grams of sugar).
After years of 1985s being fairly shut down, this has opened beautifully. Lovely mature Cazetiers: a fine blend of mature aromas and resolved structure make this an absolute pleasure to drink. John McIlwain
Renaissance is Grenache 60%, Mourvedre 30%, Syrah 10%, from 50-100 year old vines, aged in barriques, with 25% new. Bottled unfiltered.
Jérôme Bressy took over his father's estate in 1996 when he was just 23 years old. They farm 13 hectares of certified organic vines and even achieved biodyanamic certification with Demeter in 2008. Traditional winemaking practices are employed here, and they only release three wines each vintage: a white, a rosé, and a red. The grapes for this wine come from 30- to 100-year-old gobelet-trained vines that are grown in chalky marl soils with northwest and southwest exposures. Bright ruby with garnet edges in the glass, it exhibits lifted red berry fruits, plum, damp earth, fresh sage, clementine zest, and sweet spice alongside that classic Rasteau funk. The palate is ripe with brambly red raspberries, more herbs, and a meaty, savory streak which last onto the finish. This would be a good match for steak, roasted capon (for the adventurous), or beef bourguignon. Tim Gagnon
**originally priced $399.99**
The wines of Chasse-Spleen come from Moulis-en-Medoc, a small village to the north-west of Margaux. Like Margaux, the soil content has a large amount of gravel, but uniquely Moulis hosts underlying layers of clay and limestone. Chateau Chasse Spleen is the most well known of the producers in this village, producing Bordeaux blends with high portions of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Château Cos Labory is a fifth-growth estate in Saint-Estèphe, above Paulliac in the northern Médoc, on the left bank of the Gironde river. Over half of their vineyards are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance being mostly Merlot followed by a small amount of Cabernet Franc and an even smaller amount of Petit Verdot. CB
This fully mature Red Bordeaux from the great 1978 vintage is perfect to have now. It had a long wait in someone else's wine cellar and is ready for your Sunday dinner. Deep brick red color, the bouquet has Margaux's signature "perfume", cedary and tobacco notes, good fruit, resolved tannins, good balance and a very long finish, A lovely ready-to-drink aged Cabernet Sauvigon based wine. Have it with a grilled steak, or lamb chops and a baked potato, or cook something fancy like a filet mignon with Bearnaise, or veal stew with fresh mushrooms, or a cheese souffle. . .