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It's become increasingly difficult to write superlatives about the Domaine Baudy Chinon "Le Clos Guillot," as each vintage since 2014 has been superb in it's own way: 2014 - light, pretty, perfectly balanced; 2015 - round, generous, ripe; 2016 - dense, structured for aging; 2017 - classic, beautiful red fruits. And now 2018, a vintage the Baudrys describe as "magnificent!" The ripeness of fruit in this vintage displays a different side of Cabernet Franc with the more traditional light raspberry/strawberry aromatics enhanced by darker fruits: blackberry, black raspberry and boysenberry with violet and earth that remain vibrant and bright. The color is deep black with a purple rim. The palate shows sensational purity, freshness and elegance with a terrific, dense, silky, calcaire texture and fabulous length of pure black fruits and minerals. While this wine is amazingly delicious now, it should be very interesting with long cellaring as well. If you have many cases of Baudry in your cellar already, make room for more, as the 2018 Clos Guillot is truly special! (All wines in today's email arrive Wednesday 12/16)
The Baudrys consider the 2018 vintage to be "magnifique," despite attacks of mildew in the spring that lowered yields. There was adequate groundwater in the soil to nourish the grapes through a warm dry summer and into September, bringing high sugar levels but high acidity levels as well. "The 2018s are complete and expressive throughout the range with magnificent balance - with the richness in alcohol contained by the wine's freshness and a beautiful sapid length in the finish" say the Baudrys.
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone and the vines are relatively young, planted from 1993 to 2000. (Some franc de pied vines are still alive in the sandier section) Fermentation is in wooden cuves, with 12 months of aging in three to ten year-old barriques, and 9 - 12 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 - it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons!
Today we're proud to offer a small quantity of the extraordinary 2018 Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire "Les Bournais," certainly one of the most unique and delicious of all Loire Chenin Blancs! François planted the vines in 1999 on a tiny plateau above the Loire with a special limestone/clay soil called 'Bournais,' similar to a Vouvray terroir and without the silex present in most Montlouis vineyards. We have puchased every vintage of this wine, as even when the vines were very young, the wine showed lovely aromas of lemon confit, kiwi, pear, lime-flower, honey and earth, with even a bit of red fruit as well, with chalky ripe pear and citrus on the palate and terrific length of stone, white fruits and lemon peel. The wine seems to get better every year and in 2018 it is quite superb and is finally getting the attention it deserves! (The production, however is tiny, so only 36 bottles are available.) Our tasting with Manuela and François last winter was absolutely wonderful and we're happy to offer many of the wines today, with special mention going to the superb Vin de France (formerly known as Vouvray) "Baudoin" and the gorgeous demi-sec from the "Clos Habert' vineyard in Montlouis. All these wines will drink beautifully over the next fifteen to twenty years and are highly recommended!
François and Manuela Chidaine have been pioneers in organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley, and were instrumental in the resurgence of quality in Montlouis-sur-Loire. After taking over from his father in 1989, François converted to organic agriculture in 1992 and to biodynamics in 1999. I remember walking in the vineyard with Francois 20 (?) years ago, fascinated by his explanations of the life of the soil and the important role of other plant species growing amidst the vines. "Today, Chidaine embraces "regnerative agriculture," a no-till farming approach where permanent cover crops of indigenous and sown plants coexist with the vines. While plowing is an integral part of natural viticulture for many farmers and producers, this disruption of the soil is thought to interfere with the complex mycorrhizal network (funghi network) that actually connects individual plants together and helps transfer water, carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals between them. After years of working his soils, François developed a belief that by plowing he was sabotaging these important communication networks which help to give the vines what they need to flourish. An essential aspect of regenerative farming is the establishment of permanent cover crops between vine rows. François encourages biodiversity by embracing the growth of indigenous plants and sowing over 25 additional species among the vines. By mimicking nature, the vines find their place in a complex ecosystem, allowing them to better express their place of origin. Additionally, by building soil, François improves the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted into plant material and soil organic matter." (Thanks to Whitney Schubert at Polaner Selections)
The Domaine du Mortier is not well known in the US, but is now producing some of the most vibrant and delicious natural wines of Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and Bourgueil. The estate was created in 1996 on 3 hectares high on the slope in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, by Cyril Boisard, joined by his brother Fabien in 1998. Since then the domain has increased to 16 hectares, 8 hectares in Saint Nicolas, 2 ha in Bourgueil and 6 ha of "experimental" vines in the next-door village of Brain sur Allonnes (which is shockingly situated in Anjou rather than Touraine). The estate practices organic agriculture with biodynamic methods as well, and maintains a "green cover" in the vines with a very diverse eco-system of plants and fruit trees in the vineyard. Harvesting is by hand with a gentle de-stemming, allowing for a small portion of fermentation within the grape before crushing. The wines ferment naturally, aging is in used barrrels and minimal SO2 is normally added before bottling.
On offer today is the lvely 2018 "les Graviers" from 2.5 ha of vines on flinty gravel over limestone, a terroir more common in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil than in Bourgueil, which gives a round, refreshing and ripe Cabernet Franc for drinking over the next five to eight years. The 2018 Bourgueil "Les Pins" is a more structured wine from deep clay soils over the limestone "tuffeau," which shows beautiful deep red and black fruits in a cool, refreshing style, with terrific length. Quite similar to the style of the Caslot family at Domaine de la Chevalerie, both these wines from Domaine du Mortier are vibrant and delicious and are highly recommended.
Magnums of Muscadet! Domaine de la Pépière 2014 "Chateau Thébaud" and 2015 "Gorges" These are Marc Ollivier's favorite cuvées, from great vintages, that will drink beautifully over the next twenty years. Happily there is more inventory of the 2015 "Gorges" in Maisdon (made with grapes from Domaine Brégeon), but the "Chateau Thébaud" is in short supply. Any lover of great Muscadet should have these in their cellar!
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in three to ten year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. It's become incrreasingly difficult to write superlatives about this wine, as each vintage since 2014 has been superb in it's own way. And now 2018, a vintage the Baudrys describe as "magnificent!" The ripeness of fruit in this vintage diplays a different side of Cabernet Franc with the more traditional light raspberry/strawberry aromatics enhanced by darker fruits: blackberry, black raspberry and boysenberry with violet and earth, that remain vibrant and bright. The color is deep black with a purple rim. The palate shows sensational purity, freshness and elegance with a fabulous dense, silky, calcaire texture and fabulous length of pure black fruits and minerals. While this wine is amazingly delicious now, it should be very interesting with long cellaring as well. Highly recommended! David Lillie
The Baudry "Cuvee Domaine" is near and dear to my heart, and not just because of the modest price. 75% of the blend is from a parcel in Saint-Louans, a spot where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, and which has been the source of some of my favorite Chinons, such as the legendary Clos du Parc de Saint-Louans of Louis Farou. 25% of the blend is from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. This is a great combination, making the wine enjoyable to drink young but with the structure and minerality of the more "serious" terroir. The 2017, for example is delicious to drink now, the 2010 is really singing and the 1989... if you can find one, let me know. The 2018 Domaine is a bit unusual in that the fermentation finished with 1.7 gr/liter of residual sugar, still a dry wine but forcing them to filter, which the Baudrys never do. At any rate, the wine is sensational - floral and elegant with aromas of black raspberry liqueur; the palate shows high-toned ripe black fruits, with violet and stone and a very long ripe finish. Enjoy in its exuberant youth or hold for ten years and more as the terroir shines through. David Lillie
This is usually our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray and without the silex present in most Montlouis terroirs. The 2018 is a beautiful example of this wine with lovely aromas of lemon confit, kiwi, pear, lime-flower, honey and earth, with subtle hints of pink grapefruit/ crushed raspberry as well. The palate is dense and creamy with chalky ripe pear and citrus fruits with a long, lush finish of stone, white fruits, anise and citrus with terrific acidity. (Lush but dry at only 2 gr RS/L) This is a really beautiful Montlouis that will perfectly accompany lobster, fish or white meats in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses. It's delicious now, and should be very interesting after ten to twenty years in the cellar. Only 36 bottles available. David Lillie
Francois Chidaine has been one of the leading proponents of organic and regenerative agriculture in the Loire valley and has had a profound influence on the resurgence of Montlouis. Les Choisilles is vinified dry, from parcels of 30 to 90 year-old vines on clay and silica soils over limestone "tuffeau." The soils are kept "green," beneficial plants grow in the rows and only organic composts are used. Fermentation of Les Choisilles can last up to six months, with wild yeasts, no malo-lactic, aging on the lees in large barrels. The 2018s at Chidaine are studies in terroir with the young wines showing intense acidity and mineral flavors enhancing the ripe, elegant white and yellow fruits that coat the palate in this great vintage. Though delicious now, served with grilled fish, fish and chicken in sauce and shellfish, the Les Choisilles will open nicely over the next ten to fifteen years and should be considered for the cellar. DL
Francois and Manuel Chidaine have led a revival of quality in Montlouis over the last twenty-five years and are now making outstanding Vouvrays from the former Poniatowski vineyards in Vouvray. The Chidaine's vinyeard work is among the finest in France and the disaster they took over from Poniatowski has happily come back to life, being a mix of old vines and new plantings. The Clos Baudoin is certainly one of the greatest sites in Vouvray and the 2018 is perhaps the finest "Baudoin" that the Chidaines have produced, vinified dry as usual at about 3 gr/L RS. Tasted with the Chidaines last winter the wine showed great elegance with aromas of stone, pear, white peach, almond, lime flower, earth and citrus, with a very full. dense and silky palate, concentrated, long and mineral with a dense core of white fruits and minerals that will open up over the next ten to twenty years. Really a superb wine! David Lillie
Francois Chidaine's "Clos Habert" is from a single vineyard of old vines on a high plateau near the winery, on soils of clay, mixed with fine pieces of flint over the white limestone "tuffeau." The fruit is picked late in successive "tries" with the aim of producing a demi-sec which usually has 12 to 20 grams of residual sugar per liter. Fermentation is with wild yeats in 600 liter barrels and can take six months. The 2018 "Clos Habert" is one of the great "sec-tendre" of the Loire, with about 10 gr/L RS. Tasted last winter, the wine showed a brilliant bright gold color and was elegant and closed - retasted on arrival in NY, the wine shows a wonderful melange of mandarin and lemon peel, ripe green apple and pear, honeysuckle and white pepper, just beautiful. The palate shows very ripe white and yellow fruits, with citrus confit and very firm flinty, calcaire flavors with anise and spice in the long, silky finish, showing fabulous length and energy. This should develop beautifully over the next 20 - 30 years and is highly recommended. David Lillie
Fabien and Cyril Boisard make beautiful natural wines on their small estate in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil. They practice organic and biodynamic farming with a great diversity of plants and trees among the vines and their vinifications are without additives until a small addition of SO2 if needed. The Bourgueil "Les Pins" is 100% Cabernet Franc from approximately 50 year-old vines in a 2 hectare parcel that has always been famed organically. The soil is deep clay over friable limestone - a cool spot that is harvested late. The 2018 showed beautifully last winter in France with superb aromas of ripe black fruits, licorice, spice and earth. The palate is silky and supple with terrific length - just a great Bourgueil to drink now, a bit cool, or after eight to ten years of cellaring. David Lillie
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. 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, charcuterie and mild cheeses. Age for five to eight years for a more earthy and complex experience. DL
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard with great terroir sloping down towards the river Maine. The granite here (Granit de Château Thébaud, oddly enough) is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2014 will stand out as perhaps the finest yet due to the perfect combination of great density and minerality with the very firm acidity of this superb year for Muscadet - those of you lucky enough to have the 2014 Pépière Clisson in your cellar understand just what a special vintage this is. From Remi Branger at Pépière: "As the wine aged we performed three bâtonnages and after three and a half years sur lie, in April 2018, we decided to bottle it. We then decided to leave it another year in bottle before offering it for sale. For us, the 2014 Château Thébaud is a wine with a great potential for cellaring. In its youth, the wine was very austere but the prolonged élevage sur lie allowed it to develop well and it benefited further from the additional year in bottle. Recent tastings of the wine confirm to us that we made the right choice for the aging, because it has the balance we hoped for with a finish of power and tension." We're very happy to offer magnums of this superb Muscadet - although it's delicious now, 10 - 20 years of further aging will reveal something quite special. David Lillie
We're ecstatic to have this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon (pressed at Bregeon), the wine undergoes a slow fermentation and is then aged 42 months on the lees. Marc Ollivier considers this his favorite of his bottlings right now, along with the Château-Thébaud. From Bregeon's vines on Gabbro with clay topsoil (in conversion to organic) the 2015 Gorges is a complex, dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, smoke and petrol notes in addition to stone, pear, quince and mushroom. The palate is dense and intensely mineral with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the very long finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! (July 2019) David Lillie