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As we look back on what was an unprecedentedly 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. Please wear your masks, be forgiving of yourselves and your neighbors, and be good to each other. Santé! Happy holidays from all your friends at Chambers Street Wines.
The current release of Beaufort Polisy Reserve Brut Nature NV is based on the 2015 vintage and was just disgorged for this order in January 2021. The Polisy NV Brut 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
Comprised of 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, organically farmed on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims. Hugues Godmé is a hidden gem in the world of grower bubbles, when in my estimation he should be a household name. The 2009 Millésime presents a pale yellow golden robe with a fine bead and soft mousse. The nose offers stone fruit and biscuity aromas with wet stone and hints of apple blossom. The palate offers pinpoint balance between ripeness and mineral precision, with stone fruit flavors vying with chalky minerality at its core, with just enough of the cool northern slope herbaceous character to temper the vintage's ripeness and express the classic Verzy/Verzenay terroir. This is a gorgeous example of the vintage and highly recommended. John McIlwain
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. The amphitheater-shaped vineyard is something of a sun trap and produces Champagnes of power and precision in Vincent's able hands. Made up of 100% organically-farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village (near the bottom of the slope down by the river), where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village. This is a particularly powerful blanc de blancs.The 2016 has a pale lemon yellow robe with a frothy mousse and ultra-fine bead. The nose is inviting with pretty apple blossom, lemon oil aromas with a wisp of minty herbaceousness. The palate is incisively chalky, with a deep stoniness forming the core of the wine with layers of orchard fruit and citrus peel flavors shimmering above. This has fine grip and drive and enough brio to make for compelling drinking now, but don't hesitate to age for 10 or more years, as tastings with Vincent have shown that les Chênes is a particularly long-lived wine and a magnificent expression of singular terroir. John McIlwain
86% Pinot Noir, 14% Chardonnay, bottled with no dosage or sulfur. From the frost damaged 2016 vintage the Shaman 16 has a pale, faintly gold green robe and a fine bead. The nose is ripe with notes of cherry skin, white peach, and spice. The palate is broad and expansive, with rich red fruit flavors and a firm, expansive mineral core. There is plenty of drive and precision here to counter the richness and supple finish. This is shaded more to sapidity than overt fruit and should shine at the table with heartier fare. (Disgorged January 2019.) John McIlwain
100% Chardonnay from a southwest facing parcel comprised of sandy limestone soils in Vandières on the right bank of the Marne. Farmed biodynamically. Fermented with native yeasts, aged in a combination of vat and small barrel, secondary fermentation is under cork, with prise de mousse done with grape must rather than liqueur. The robe is a pale yellow green, with a fine bead and soft mousse. The cool-toned nose offers aromas of lemon pith, crushed herbs, and sea spray. The palate is lean and chiseled with citrus peel, apple skin, and quinine flavors underlain by a snappy, brisk, mineral spine. This is bright and fresh with plenty of lift and verticality and succulence on the finish. I’d love this with a plate of St John’s, Pemaquid, and Glidden Point oysters to enjoy the interplay of the brininess of the oysters with the salty character of the Champagne. John McIlwain
90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, with 15% Pinot Noir vin rouge. Aged for 10 months in foudre. No malolactic fermentation. Base 2017 with reserve wines from 2016 and 2015. Rubis has a dark salmon robe and fine bead. The nose offers aromas of peach skin, wild strawberry, and blood orange oil. The palate is sinuous and nervy (relative to Vilmart’s ample house style) with wild strawberry, crushed herbs, and a creamy orange curd note on a long mouthwatering, juicy finish. There’s a pebbly mineral core beneath the ripe red fruit and great detail and coolness overall and this should age smartly for the next decade. This has fine verve and snap and each sip beckons for another. Highly recommended. John McIlwain
A non-vintage blend from parcels in Avize, Cramant, Oger, and Oiry. The Terroirs has a pale lemon yellow robe, a fine bead and a soft mousse.The nose is generously scented with notes of Meyer lemon peel, apple blossom, and sea spray the on nose. The palate is lean, tense, savory, and nervy with flavors of green apple, lemon curd, and chalk. There's a fine stony core to the wine that carries over on the persistent, finish. There's a lot to like here and I'd love to try another bottle with some Watch Hill oysters or prawns. 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 is attractively floral and red-fruited with aromas of wild strawberry, sour cherry, and crushed herbs.The palate is bright and vibrant with flavors of orange oil, a fine line of minerality, with a soft mousse and fine bead.The finish is expansive and tangy with a hint of biscuit on the back end. Lovely Champagne and an excellent value. John McIlwain
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
Made from 100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vineyards in Vertus, Le Mesnil, Orger, Avize, and Cramant, the 2014 base Cuvée Vendémiaire is a must for fans of chiseled, chalky Champagnes from the Côtes des Blancs. With long lees aging (60 months, partially in oak), low sulfur, and bottling under lower pressure, this shows a more vinous side of Blanc de Blancs, while offering tremendous value. The nose is a pleasing mélange of apple blossom and citrusy notes, with cool herbal and biscuity notes. The mid-weight palate has notes of lemon curd, pear skin, with the creamy mid-palate giving way to an expansive chalky finish. For fans of the 2013 base, this may not have the crystalline tension of that disgorgement, but more than makes up for it with cool, chalky charm. Makes for a snappy aperitif and is a fine pairing with crudo, or pan-roasted scallops. Disgorged 9/19, 4g/L dosage.-John McIlwain
The tiny Champagne Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Grand Vallée de la Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2017 vintage and balances nicely the classic richness Damery and ripeness of the vintage with a steely minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, orange oil, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its pinpoint balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. John McIlwain
From the eponymous lieu-dit located in the grand cru village of Verzenay on the norther slope of the Montagne de Reims. The organically farmed vines date from 1986 are grown in shallow clay soils over chalk. Juice from the coeur de cuvée, fermented with native yeasts, aged in oak barrels. The 2010 boasts a fine bead and soft mousse. The nose offer aromas of wet stone, red apple skin, spice, and apple blossom. The rich palate is broad and supple, yet suffused with a bright, incisive minerality and a lean cut to the long, detailed, rising, finish. There is a fine interplay between ripe red fruit flavors and a firm core of savory minerality. There is real class and complexity here with a fine upside for aging. Godmé’s parcellaires have real verve and depth and are not to be missed! John McIlwain
Laherte Frères is a longtime favorite of Chambers. They combine organic farming with well-considered winemaking in the area near Epernay where the the Valée de Marne and Côte des Blanc meet. The 2014 Les Vignes d'Autrefois Extra Brut is made from 100% Pinot Meunier from 40-60 year-old vines from Chavot and Mancy, this is displays both the vinous nature of the fruit as well as the underlying terroir (clays over chalk) which is revealed by organic farming. The wine hews to the more savory side of the spectrum, with herbal notes framing the ripe red fruit and giving way to a fine chalky bead of minerality on a bracing, long, dry finish. John McIlwain
The second bottling of the 2016 Shaman 16 Rosé has more Pinot Noir in the blend lending a more savory character to the cuvée. (70% Chard 30% Pinot Noir for those keeping score at home.) The wine has a pale salmon pink robe.The nose offers aromas of balsam , red fruits, spices, and crushed herbs. This is broader on palate with greater richness than the first bottling, but boasts greater length and a more overtly mineral character. In short, a fine rosé for those seeking umami. Excellent stuff and a perfect choice for sushi and sashimi or donabe rice with mushrooms. 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
100% Pinot Noir. The 2014 Les Saints Rémys is the inaugural release of this parcellaire from Benoît Marguet. Located on the slope on the western side of Ambonnay near the border with Bouzy. The robe has a faint peach color, fine bead, and soft mousse. The nose is warm and floral with notes of peach skin, rose petals, blood orange zest, shortbread, and Pinot spice. The wine balances supple, ripe, red fruit flavors with a firm (verging on sinewy) structure within. This is already compellingly complex, though it should gain in detail and nuance with time in the bottle. This is a stellar addition to Benoît's lineup and offers a fascinating contrast to the racy, crystalline Les Crayères. Bottled without dosage. Disgorged March 2019. John McIlwain
Flavien Nowack's Extra-Brut S.A. (Sans Année) is comprised of 60% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay farmed biodynamically in the village of Vandières in the Marne. The base vintage is 2017 with 40% reserve wines dating from 2012. Initial fermentation is with native yeasts and the vins clairs are aged in tank and oak. The nose offers aromas of apple skin, ginger, and wet stone. The palate is medium-bodied and buoyant with stone fruit and spice flavors lent gravitas with a fine bead of pungent minerality. Sale price, was $59.99
Flavien Nowack's Extra-Brut S.A. (Sans Année) is comprised of 60% Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay farmed biodynamically in the village of Vandières in the Marne. The base vintage is 2017 with 40% reserve wines dating from 2012. Initial fermentation is with native yeasts and the vins clairs are aged in tank and oak. The nose offers aromas of apple skin, ginger, and wet stone. The palate is medium-bodied and buoyant with stone fruit and spice flavors lent gravitas with a fine bead of pungent minerality.
Sale price, was $59.99
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
Comprised of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Pinot Noir. Organically farmed with biodynamic methods. Disgorged 3/19, 3 grams dosage. The wine has a pale salmon robe, lively bead, and frothy mousse. The nose offers effusive aromas of wild strawberry, green tea, mineral smoke, and cherry stone. The palate is dry and racy with red fruits, apple skin, and a fine, filigreed bead of chalky minerality forming the core within. This has fine lift and cut leading to a penetrating, lingering finish. I'd love to enjoy this with salmon crudo or rare yellowfin tuna, or better yet an assortment of omakase tempura from our friends at Secchu Yokota. John McIlwain Sale price, was $69.99
Comprised of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Pinot Noir. Organically farmed with biodynamic methods. Disgorged 3/19, 3 grams dosage. The wine has a pale salmon robe, lively bead, and frothy mousse. The nose offers effusive aromas of wild strawberry, green tea, mineral smoke, and cherry stone. The palate is dry and racy with red fruits, apple skin, and a fine, filigreed bead of chalky minerality forming the core within. This has fine lift and cut leading to a penetrating, lingering finish. I'd love to enjoy this with salmon crudo or rare yellowfin tuna, or better yet an assortment of omakase tempura from our friends at Secchu Yokota. John McIlwain
Sale price, was $69.99