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As we look back on what was a turbulent year and look forward to the next, we raise a glass with hope in mind. Hope for our grower friends, hope for healthier lands, hope for more conscientous farming, hope for clement weather, and to be honest, hope for sensible tariffs when it comes to wine. But we also wish the best to our valued customers and friends, for your support allows us to do what we love. Below are some of our favorite Champagnes, from simple and celebratory, to complex and comtemplative. Please raise a glass to yourselves, your loved ones, the real farmers who bring us simple pleasures with their toil, and to hope. Salut! Your friends at Chambers Street Wines
A new grower for Chambers Street Wines, Christian Bourmault from Avize works organically with some parcels certified. Cuvée Hermance is comprised of 67% Pinot Noir, 23% Chardonnay, 10% Meunier aged in a combination of tank and barrel. Brisk and bright on the nose with aromas of pear skin, Meyer lemon zest, Rainier cherry, and biscuit, the palate is ripe and citrusy, with flavors of white peach, lemon curd, and orange rind. This offers terrific value and flair at a fine price. Highly recommended! John McIlwain
Don't call it basic! Chartogne-Taillet’s “Cuvée Saint Anne” is one of our favorite grower Champagnes priced under $50. The grapes come Merfy in the Montagne de Reims and are a blend of the 2016 and 2015 vintages. On the nose there are aromas of apple blossoms, peach skin, and sea spray. The mid-weight, generous palate offers flavors of ripe golden apple, lemon curd, and crushed herbs on a racy, spritely finish. This has plenty of charm on the attack with a fine core of minerality lending focus and depth. Disgorged 7/26/17, dosage 5 g/l. John McIlwain
From year to year there seem to be few greater values in Champagne than those of biodynamic grower Thomas Barbichon in Gyé-sur-Seine in the Aube. From his 9 HA domaine he produces wines of purity, elegance, and precision. The current disgorgement of his Blanc de Noirs is Pinot Noir-dominant. The robe has a faint peach hue. The nose offers a fine mélange of floral and red fruit aromas, hints of wet stone, orange oil, and toast. The palate is bright and racy, yet ample with crunchy minerality and a brisk, mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
The new Beaufort Polisy Reserve Brut Nature NV is based on the 2015 vintage and was disgorged in September, 2020. The Polisy NV Brut Nature is a lean, racy expression of the Kimmeridgian limestone of Polisy. The nose is cool-toned and faintly herbal with aromas of green apple, lime zest, and wet stone. The palate is steely and focused, with a prominent mineral character giving way to taut structure and a compelling savory character on the brisk, chiseled finish. I'd love this with crudo, ceviche, or a platter of briny Beausoleil oysters. John McIlwain
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical yet laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium-bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged recently after 16+ years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines.
This is classic Beaufort: balanced, rounded and finely filigreed with a judicious dosage. In truth, the 2009 Ambonnay Grand Cru tastes very dry for a Brut, closer to an Extra Brut in style. It shows a burnished golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a finely beaded and generous mousse. The nose offers notes of brioche, cardamom, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, white flowers, and honeysuckle. The palate is powerful and broad, accented with aromas of Cortland apples, apple pie, and nutmeg that lead to a lingering, herbal finish. The 2009 Brut shows the pedigree of its Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit. It's delicious now, but it also has real aging potential. (Lot #09A. Disgorged Sept 2020.)
For those of a classical bent who prefer not to shop at the big Champagne houses, André Beaufort is a wonderful alternative. Longtime organic farming and extended lees-aging produce rich wines of uncommon detail and complexity. The 2010 Ambonnay offers aromas of white flowers, orange peel, bergamot, and chalk on the nose. Bright acid, salted plum, citrus oil, and a fine line of sapid minerality on the supple and rich palate. This shows a fine interplay between power, tension, and a suave, supple finish. This is one heck of an Ambonnay and a fine bottle of Beaufort! (Disgorged in August 2020) John McIlwain
After years of releasing Les Barres as a parcellaire featuring Pinot Meunier, Alexandre Chartogne has bottled a small amount of Les Barres in Pinot Noir. The 2015 Pinot Noir, distinguished by the black label, offers aromas of red fruit, bosky herbs, and dried flowers. The palate is ample and generous, while displaying a subtle minerality and a racy, persistent finish. As we've yet to do the side by side comparison with the Pinot Meunier derived Les Barres, we are intrigued by the possibility of contrasting cépage and terroir to see which expresses itself more clearly. John McIlwain
A blend of Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (25%), and Pinot Blanc (25%) from organically farmed vines grown in Kimmeridgian soils in Celles-Sur-Ource in the Aube. Initial fermentation is with indigenous yeast in tank, and the wine spends 30 months on the lees before disgorgement. The nose offers lovely aromas of apple blossom, apricot, honeysuckle and mint. The mid-weight palate is redolent of stone fruit, ripe Mirabelle plums, and tangerine, with a punchy mineral character lending gravitas. There's a lot of character to this well-priced Champagne that makes for a fine apéritif, as well as having the stuffing to enjoy with roasted fish, chicken, or strong cheeses. John McIlwain
20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier. The base vintage of the current disgorgement of the Hurè Fréres Brut Reserve L'Invitation is 2015, with the balance being made up of 40% reserve wines. The nose offers aromas of baked apple, brioche, wild strawberry, orange oil, white flowers, and ginger. On the broad, medium-bodied palate there is a fine tension between the ripe red fruit, citrus peel, frisky acidity, and a fairly serious core of stony minerality. This develops nicely in the glass displaying a frothy mousse and coltish, energetic fruit initially, with the earthy Montagne de Reims character emerging with air. This is a fine Champagne to accompany smoked fish, crudo, and all manner of charcuterie. Every year the Hurè brothers seem to grow as winemakers and each new disgorgement is a treat. John McIlwain
Comprised of 100% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, rather the the Coteaux Sud d'Epernays as with Laherte's other releases. Farmed organically and aged in barrel for 19 months in barrel with no malo. Les Longues Voyes (the long way) refers both to the distance to this parcel from the winery in Chavot and to the extended elévage. The nose offers aromas of wild strawberry, wild raspberry, spice, shortbread, and chalk. The palate is supple and expressive with good concentration and bright acidity. The finish is broad and expansive. Aurélien Laherte's wines consistently display excellent poise, energy, and elegance resulting from the excellent organic farming to the vinification in wood. John McIlwain
While we love biodynamic grower Benoît Marguet's Champagnes for their combination of Ambonnay power and frank minerality, it may be that his most pleasurable wine is his excellent vintage-dated rosé. Chardonnay dominated in a village noted for its Pinot Noir, the wine offer a beautiful nose highlighted by aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry seed, tarragon, and chalk. The palate is brightly mineral and structured, with a deep stoniness at its core within its layers of ripe red fruits and savory notes. The wine balances deftly its grand cru power with a lacy bead, vibrant acidity, and achingly pretty florality. This is natural Champagne and an absolute joy to drink. John McIlwain
In a region beset by indifferent farming and difficult weather, there's a lot of inspiration to be had as a new generation of Champenois take over their family domaines. Maxime Ponson is a prime example of a young grower recognizing the need to improve the farming and embrace organic viticulture as a moral imperative (not to mention make better wines). La Petite Montagne 1er is sourced from vineyards spread across seven communes on the eponymous Petite Montagne located to the east and southeast of Reims. The current release is 40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% percent Pinot Noir. The nose is fresh and expressive, with aromas of white flowers, stone fruit, and brioche. The palate is chiseled and stony with racy lemon zest and green apple flavors and a vibrant, mouthwatering finish. A great apéritif wine, and a fine choice for sashimi, oysters, or crudo. John McIlwain
A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Pinot Meunier fermented in tank with native yeasts, from the 2010 vintage with reserve wine from 2007, 2008, 2009. Bottled without dosage, this still has a fine sense of energy and depth on the palate due to great farming and long lees-aging. The nose tends towards orchard fruit, citrus peel, and pear skin, with fine biscuity after-aromas. The palate shows a fine bead and with a good balance of concentration, minerality, and a bracing, zesty finish. John McIlwain (Wine arrives 12/19)
A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Pinot Meunier fermented in tank with native yeasts, from the 2010 vintage with reserve wine from 2007, 2008, 2009. Bottled without dosage, this still has a fine sense of energy and depth on the palate due to great farming and long lees-aging. The nose tends towards orchard fruit, citrus peel, and pear skin, with fine biscuity after-aromas. The palate shows a fine bead and with a good balance of concentration, minerality, and a bracing, zesty finish. John McIlwain
(Wine arrives 12/19)