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Yes you read that correctly, Smarch is upon us. Not sure if that means we're in for snow cyclone bombs, or more of that scary warm weather, but in the meantime we're turning our focus towards some new arrivals from some of our favorite winemakers in Germany and Austria.
Stefanie and Alwin Jurtschitsch have made yet another fantastic wine as part of their 'Discoveries from the Winery' series. These are smaller batch 'experiments' that we look forward to every year. Mon Blanc is a blend of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), and Muskateller, the latter providing just the slightest florality and helping balance not only the fruitiness of the 2018 vintage but also the texture from the two weeks of skin contact during the co-ferment in barrel.
We've been big fans of the Puszta Libre! red from Claus Preisinger in Gols, Burgenland so it was a no-brainer to pick up his Puszta Blanca! white; a punchy and thirst-quenching blend of Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat Ottonel grown on limestone-rich soils.
Two new wines from Florian Schuhmann of Quantum Winery have graced our shelves and we're very excited! The first release from his 'new' project: Sonntag Geschlossen (Closed on Sundays), a collaboration with friend Marcus Sonntag. After many years of biodynamic farming and making wines that just sat in barrel in his family's cellar (with no real plans of ever seeing the light of day), Marcus was finally convinced by Florian to start bottling these Grüners! First tasted in 2018 at VieVinum in Vienna, I'm excited to see the wines finally coming over. Each release is from just one barrel, and this one is an (over 100 years-old) 2400L barrel with wine from the 2011 harvest. The second Quantum wine is from 35-year-old vines of Portugieser that will bend minds about the grape, the new vintage of Der Herr Baumann is here!
Also newly arrived is a delicious and expressive Blaufränkisch from Franz Weninger, Demeter-certified biodynamic winemaker with vines in both Hungary and Austria. Although he has lots of impressive, single-vineyard bottlings of this beloved grape, we couldn't deny how great this 2016 multi-parcel blend was (especially at this pricepoint)!
Daniel and Jonas Brand continue to make inspiring wines from their multiple parcels in the northern Pfalz, Germany. The new vintage of Cuvée Flora is here, sourced from certified organic 60-year-old Dornfelder vines on limestone soils. If you haven't had wine made from this grape before we don't hold it against you, but encourage you to try it! As with all their 'Pur' wines, the must undergoes spontaneous fermentation and the brothers don't fine, filter, or add sulfur.
No real introduction is needed for their Pinot Noirs, but perhaps you've never tried the whites or rosé from Sven Enderle and Florian Moll, in the Baden region of Germany. They have parcels of Müller-Thurgau, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), and Weißburgunder, some old-vine. The Weißburgunder we have on offer today is from 40-year-old vines grown on Muschelkalk, or shell limestone. Their rosé of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is really lovely this year, juicy and vibrant and perfect to pair with almost anything on the dinner table! Prost! Cari Bernard
A new arrival from Alwin and Stefanie Jurtschitsch in the Kamptal, 'Mon Blanc' is a blend of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Gelber Muskateller and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from the Loiserberg vineyard (cooler site, glimmerschiefer and loess, certified organic since 2009). About two weeks of skin contact, spontaneous fermentation in open-top wooden vats, aging is in 600L old oak barrel, the wine is unfined and unfiltered with a small amount of SO2 added only at bottling. High-tones of lemon zest and herbs with peaches on the nose, the wine is refreshing and tart with just a hint of texture framing white florals, lemon juice, apricot and chamomile. Cari Bernard
Florian Schuhmann of Quantum Winery never fails to surprise with every new vintage. Der Herr Baumann is sourced from a parcel of 35-year-old Portugieser vines on sandy clay soils. Although the parcel belongs to a friend (Christophe Bauer), the grapes here are tended to by Florian, are hand-harvested and undergo a five-day maceration, spontaneous fermentation, and the wine ages in 300L neutral oak barrel followed by a rest in stainless. The wine is unfined and unfiltered, and Florian only adds a small amount of sulfur at bottling. The nose is resinous and herbal with notes of strawberry jam, on the palate the wine is both bold and fresh, notes of cranberry, plum skin, tarragon, red grapefruit acidity with just a touch of structure. Cari Bernard
Sonntag Geschlossen (“Closed on Sundays”) is a collaboration between Florian Schuhmann and his friend Marcus Sonntag. The story goes that Marcus had been farming his family’s two hectares of old-vine (50 y/o) Grüner Veltliner for years, converting to biodynamics in 2009. Interestingly enough, he really didn’t take to the winemaking part, so the juice was kept in old barrels in his family’s cellar being topped up and lightly sulfured for nearly seven years before Florian got around to asking after the wines. Florian offered to bottle the wines under this label, releasing each barrel separately. This first release is from a 2400L (very old) barrel, unfined and unfiltered. Slightly oxidative on the nose, with bitter herbs, salted pineapple, yellow apple core and stone on the finish—we look forward to future barrels! Cari Bernard
One of my favorite vintages of this wine to date, a delightful Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) rosé to pair with all sorts of foods, including heartier winter fare. Simply delicious when first opened, the palate just gets brighter and juicier as the wine takes air. Scents of roses, red cherries and cranberries leap out of the glass, the palate has an almost crystalline freshness, with vibrant red florals, blood orange, crunchy pomegranate seeds, and wild strawberries on the finish. Cari Bernard
Completing the Puszta trifecta, there's now a Puszta Blanca!, a blend of Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat Ottonel. Just as easy-drinking as the Puszta Libre (red), with a fresh briny quality that makes it thirst-quenching and delightful. A playful nose of dilly brine, lime oil, and raw (green) peanut; the palate is quite punchy with notes of golden apple, lemon candy, apricot marmalade and that tart element of the brine lifting the finish. Cari Bernard
Franz Weninger has vines in both Sopron, Hungary and Burgenland, Austria. He started converting to biodynamics in 2006 and is now Demeter certified. Franz grows a variety of grapes on a mix of limestone, clay, loam, and loess soils (on the Austrian side), but his main focus is Blaufränkisch and its ability to showcase terroir. You can see this dedication in the sheer number of different, single-vineyard expressions he bottles from both sides of the border. The 2016 is from multiple Burgenland parcels and when Ben and I tasted it, we knew this had to be the first one to bring in. I wrote in my notebook 'true Blau!'. It gave everything: savory and dense, powerful but subtly framed with tannins bolstering up dark, juicy berries, and a sly meaty herbal quality rounding it all out. Cari Bernard
Are you drinking enough Dornfelder? Did you have to think too long on that answer? Did you wonder, what is Dornfelder, and why am I missing out? Well, easy fix—'Cuvée Flora' has returned! Fun fact about this Dornfelder is you're going to pour it into the glass, and as you swirl the deep, opaque liquid around, you'll notice it's practically staining your glass. You're going to wonder why we suggested that you to put a slight chill on the wine as you gaze into its inky depths. Then you're going to try a sip and it will all make sense. Dornfelder was made to act as a blending grape to (mostly) add pigment to the lighter German red wines back in the mid-1950s and onward (it also happens to have great acidity and structure). When you break it down, Dornfelder is a crossing of Helfensteiner (Frühburgunder/Pinot Noir Précoce × Trollinger/Schiava Grossa) and Heroldrebe (Blauer Portugieser × Blaufränkisch/Lemberger*)—all those parent grapes rule; and Dornfelder deserves its time in the spotlight! As the chill wears off a touch, scents of bramble fruit, red flowers, and black raspberries proliferate. The palate has just enough structure and grip, balancing crunchy, black raspberries and plums, savory herbs, soy sauce and dark stone. Cari Bernard ((*grape parentage information taken from Wikipedia))
Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) organically grown on shell limestone soils. Slightly reductive upon opening with a hint of chalky stone, the palate boasts a lush body and mineral balance, savory spice and bitter almond buoyed by juicy, ripe pears and lively energy on the finish. A wine to open with an assortment of cheeses, roasted chicken and root vegetables, brandade with a side of sautéed hearty greens. Cari Bernard