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The beginning of 2021 might not have been the miraculous return to normal that many of us had been dreaming of during the bleakest moments of last year, but we at Chambers have high spirits, and our eyes are on the road ahead. We're doing our best to stay healthy and able. Thanks to our wonderful suppliers, we're being introduced daily to fresh, new products that we have yet to offer our customers. We're tasting the most recent vintages of some of our past favorites. We're also making sure that the wines we rely on for quality and great taste are re-stocked, ready to sell. As March approaches, join us in celebrating our delicious recent discoveries as well as the tried-and-true staples of our store.
We are very excited about this year's release of Mirabai Pinot Noir from our friend in Willamette, Kelley Fox! 2020 proved to be disastrous in many ways, but particularly for West Coast wineamkers who dealt with catastrophic fires and high winds that caused smoke to spread far and wide. Because of this Kelley will not be releasing any red wines from 2020, so we must all savor these beautiful bottles from 2019, and absolutely put away a few more in the cellar. Very excited for the release of the her white wines which should be sometime next month!
Another West Coast winery that we love is the Drew Family Cellars situated on the high-altitude Mendocino Ridge. We now have the delicious 2019 'Mid-Elevation' in stock, and a great new cider! The Drew's began their winery by purchasing an abandoned apple orchard, so it only makes sense that from the trees that are still around (many of them close to 60 years old) they would craft a delightful little sparkling cider 'Sur La Mer' named for the original 'Faite De Mer Farm,' an ode to their proximity to the coast.
From the West Coast of the US we move to the South-West of France to welcome a new shipment from Serge Hondet at Domaine Tinou in Jurançon. On this tiny 3-hestare estate Serge grows Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng as well an ancient grape known as "Lauzet" that Serge uses in his unique Jurançon Sec. Like Domaine Guion in Bourgueil, Domaine Tinou has been certified organic since 1964, uses biodynamic methods and grows cover crops such as legumes and potatoes between the rows. The Jurançon Tradition (about 45 gr/l RS) and the Cuvee Speciale (about 75 gr/l RS) show sensational complexity of fruit and vibrant acidity making them perfect pairings with tropical fruit and citrus based deserts, but also with Moroccan spice chicken tajine and other dishes with sweet or sweet and sours seasoning be they veggies, fish or white meat. Bone dry and light, but powerful and a bit exotic at the same time, the Tinou Jurançon Sec can be enjoyed with grilled fish, shellfish and poultry dishes and sheep cheeses - decant if possible or open an hour or two in advance.
And from Lise and Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis, welcome back to one of the most delicious of Pet Nats, the 2019 Exilé Brut Rosé! And it's a great value as well...
We've buffed up our Bordeaux section with some great selections, including two offerings from Clos Puy Arnaud. The Castillon 2014 is a ripe, tannic red that boasts gleaming acidity. The 2015 'Les Ormeaux' has a palate of spicy red fruits and graphite and a tender mouthfeel. A delicious new Graves comes from a producer we haven't carried in a long time - Chateau Auney l'Hermitage. The 2016 vintage Graves Rouge has a nose of earth and bellpepper, and a palate of red apple and cherry. We're especially excited to have brought back the 'Emilien' from Le Puy, current vintage being 2016. The wine is incredibly balanced, with a woodsy nose and a palate brimming with minerals and forest fruit.
Also from France, we've brought in several winesfrom our friend Jeff Coutelou! The Mas Coutelou wines are authentic Languedoc expressions, and play perfectly the balance between the accessibility and fun of the natural wine "genre," and the dark rusticity and garrigue of traditional Languedoc wines. Maybe we can drop the "natural wine" moniker and just call them what they are: Real Wines! (a phrase that can first be attributed to legendary wine importer Joe Dressner, with the inception of the "Real Wine Attack" and Real Wine Tour with LDM producers... which some Chambers Street fans will fondly remember)
If you're in need of nice digestif to add to your home-bar, we have brought back a few favorites from Varnelli, the Amaro del'Erborista, described by John Rankin as "the most powerful amaro I have ever tried" and the Amaro Sibilla, slightly tamer, but no less flavorful. New to the shop is the Grappa Barolina from Artigiano Guiseppe Castelli, by far one of the most elegant Grappa we've ever tried (not a word often used for the category), having been aged for six years in steel tanks.
Two of our favorite Spanish red wines have returned: new vintages of the Goyo Garcia Viadero Joven (2019) from Ribera del Duero and the Guimaro A Ponte (2018) from Ribeira Sacra. Both are lovely wines for end of winter meals. There's also a tiny bit left of last vintage's Viadero Joven (2018) and the Viadero Malvasia, one of our favorite orange wines.
One of our favorite Tuscan wines has been re-stocked. The 2018 Sanguineto Rosso di Montepulciano is a tender, complex red with spice and earth tones. A definite go-to for pizza or pasta dinner.
Distilleria Castelli is a small, family-run operation in the heart of Piedmont working with neighboring growers/winemakers to repurpose the grape pomace left behind from vinification, into surprisingly aromatic and delicate grappas. The Castelli family collects the pomace and ages it in sealed tanks to help intensify the flavor, and is then distilled and aged for several years in stainless steel. The Barolina Grappa is 100% Nebbiolo from Barolo vineyards, distilled and then aged for 6 years in stainless steel, bottled at 50%ABV, leading to a softer, rounder mouthfeel than the grappa my grandfather used to have open at parties. The nose presents a melance of honeyed apricot, daffodils, and Meyer lemon peel, and on the palate flavors of stonefruits, wildflower honey, and cardamom. Michelle DeWyngaert
Named after the impressive mountain range in the Southwestern corner of the Marche, this spirit is a must-try for Amaro fans. The flavor profile definitely leans toward the drier, more herbaceous end of the spectrum and will seem quite bitter if you are used to Averna or Montenegro. The botanicals are wood smoked before maceration which adds a degree of complexity seldom found in Amari. Mountain honey is used sparingly to balance the bitter flavors. I have found Sibillia to be a delicious digestive, but also quite delightful at the shore when mixed with tonic and an orange rind. JR
I am completely smitten with this Amaro. The primary ingredient is blood orange from Sicily with the bitter, herbal components taking somewhat of a backseat, and the result is a brighter, more feminine, style of Amaro that is complex and delicious. It is floral, fruit-forward, mineral, and long with red berry fruits and herbs building on the finish. This is simply a fantastic after dinner drink. Tim Gagnon
Two James was the first licensed distillery in Detroit since Prohibition and they are committed to making uplifting their community and making high-quality, environmentally-conscious spirits. Though most of their spirits are made with locally grown ingredients, unfortunately sugar cane doesn't do well in Michigan. For 'Doctor Bird' the several rums are shipped in from Jamaica, which are then blended together at their Corktown distillery and aged in used Moscatel barriques giving this rum a unique and powerful flavor.
(Was $22.99) The Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. Around 50 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.
The Drew Family estate began on an abandoned 26 acre apple orchard, so it only makes sense that they have also been inspired to craft cider alongside their wine. This is a refreshingly crisp, sparkling, dry cider, with just enough ripe fruit to keep it from being tart. Made from their certified organic Gravensteins, Philo Golds, & Rhode Island Greens apples, fermented with indigenous yeasts in a combination of 80% stainless steel, and 20% neutral oak to round out the egdes, then re-fermented in bottle with a small addition of organic cane sugar. This cider is fresh, floral, and very tasty. A perfect aperitif! Michelle DeWyngaert
Drew Family Cellars was established in 2000 with a mission to create age-worthy, cool climate California Pinot Noir. They settled in the coastal appellation of Mendocino Ridge and planted their own estate in what was once an orchard, at 1250ft elevation. This bottling is a blend of fruit from their organically farmed estate and lots from like-minded farmers at the Valenti, Fashauer, Perli, and Wendling vineyards. The grapes are fermented with 20% whole-cluster bunches and aged in 10% new French oak, with the rest in neutral oak barrels. Upon opening the wine was a bit leaner and more red fruited than the previous vintage, but with some air/time open it became richer and plummier as I had come to love from the Drew Family. Notes of dried violet, anise, dried herbs, purple plum, and cassis, with gentle tannins, and a nice balance of acidity and concentration that makes me think of pomegranate juice. Michelle DeWyngaert
Planted 25 years ago on a former seabed that had been uplifted millons of years ago (but which is still littered with seashell fossils!) the 'Scallop Shelf' bottling is a blend of different clones and plots from the Peay estate vineyard. The vineyard is certified organic, and nearly dry-farmed (except for an occasional need in the hottest points of August), they remain untilled, and fertilized by their own compost made from leftover pomace. This blend is created to highlight the cool, coastal climate and elevation of the vineyardl intended to be the most floral, elegant of the three estate bottlings.
I rarely suggest judging a book by its cover, but in this case the label speaks so well to its contents! The 'Mirabai' from Kelley Fox blends fruit from two neighboring vineyards, 75% from the Maresh Vineyard and 25% from Weber. The Dundee Hills parcels were both planted in the 1970's so the vines are fully mature, and sit on Jory soil. The quality of the farming coupled with Kelley's intuitive sense and strict aversion to additives in the cellar allows the land to shine through in this bottle. The grapes are crushed as whole clusters, fermented in small lots, and aged ~7 months in neutral French oak. The nose is a delicious perfume of turned soil, freshly shaved beets and rhubarb, wild cherry, ripe strawberry, and wild flowers. The palate is vibrant, with light-to-just-medium body and powdery soft tannins that linger between sips. I hardly wanted to share any of this bottle with my colleagues! Michelle DeWyngaert
'Entre Nous' is a blend of fruit from La Colina Vineyard in Dundee Hills and the Four Winds Vineyard in the McMinnville Coast, all 100% Pinot Noir. This blend brings the ripeness and juiciness of the more inland vines, and the lift and elegance from the coastal influence. A small portion of new oak barrels and the rest neutral, frames this wine with a touch of baking spice, nothing dramatic, that will only continue to integrate as it ages. The nose has a beautiful floral, rose water aroma with notes of freshly picked white cherry, raspberry, and a sense of the volcanic soils that line the Willamette Valley. The palate is perfectly clean, almost austere with powdery tannins, but balanced by ripeness and power from the La Colina fruit. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is the most powerful Amaro I have ever tried. To drink it is to experience a brisk and bracing shock of mountain roots and herbs. The flavors are intense enough to make one’s whole mouth tingle, and the experience lasts for several minutes. As a warning, it must be said that this tonic is brutally dry, rich, and smoky. One could tackle a glass neat after dinner, or a splash could go a long way in creating unique cocktails. This tonic is made with botanicals that are smoked prior to maceration, and mountain honey is used (extremely sparingly) as a sweetener. For the adventurous there is nothing else quite like it! JR
Goisot is perhaps best known for their Sauvignon de St. Bris, considered a benchmark for the appellation, as well as riveting Cote d'Auxerre chardonnays that often outperform wines from neighboring Chablis. The Aligoté often goes overlooked, which is a shame, as it is firmly of a piece with the other wines in the range. The 2019 is lovely, full of gently ripe white peach, Meyer lemon peel and vivid white florals. The previous vintage felt oddly stingy compared to this new release but if ever one needed to know that a wine is linked inextricably to its place of origin, what both wines share is a distinct mineral component that I can only compare to chalk dust from a blackboard eraser. While the fruit character of the two wines may diverge, they are still joined by this limestone core. Terrific value here. Sam Ehrlich
There is a host of terrific growers in Mâcon and Pouilly farming organically these days and Marcel Couturier is one of the best. He is meticulous and hard-working and it is reflected in the wine. La Cour des Bois finds a great balance between green and yellow fruits and a lovely mid-palate spiciness. Like all good white Burgundy, it is held in check by a core of limestone that lends freshness and structure. Sam Ehrlich
Ludovic Bonnardot runs his family domaine a few miles east of Beaune. His mother worked with natural wine forefather Jules Chauvet in Beaujolais. Today he farms his family vineyards organically (with certification) and makes wine with very little to no sulfur. The results are generally excellent. This '18 Hautes Cotes is a case in point. Fermented with 50% whole clusters and no apparent oak influence, this is marked by lovely red cherry and strawberry fruit, clove and star anise. The texture is pretty and quite delicate, with a coolness to the finish that belies the warm vintage. Recommended. Sam Ehrlich
We tasted a sample of this a few weeks ago and the staff was pretty much flattened by it. The 2018 vintage has been characterized by richness and lush fruit but this seems to defy all expectations. It's brimming with citrus fruit that feel like they were just peeled - tangerine and Meyer Lemon - wrapped around river stones and seasoned with sea salt. The racy texture and acid practically crackle with electricity, almost like great dry Chenin or Riesling. Tremendous. Sam Ehrlich
The 2018 "Chant de la Tour" comes from a single parcel that has never been treated with chemicals of any kind, which comes as little surprise based on what's in the bottle. This is my platonic ideal of Bourgogne Rouge. The pure red cherry and strawberry fruit is vivid and lush without being cloying. The expression of limestone is clear and speaks beautifully of the region, with a dustiness in the finish that reminds me of clapping blackboard erasers. Completely delicious.
Merlot, Mourvedre, and Syrah from Jeff Coutelou. A bit softer and more elegant than Classe or Sauvé de la Citerne, the other full bodied offerings from Coutelou. My guess is this is thanks to the Mourvedre and Merlot. A wine with red and purple/blue fruit, nice lift, but overall rich and full. Given the aging potential of Merlot and Mourvedre, it might be worth holding some for a few years. I always feel that the fun labels and the following that Coutelou wines have in the younger wine drinking community leads to most of his wines being consumed within a year of bottling. If you ask our friend, and importer Camille, or Jeff Coutelou himself, you'll definitely get the sense that these wines have great aging potential. -EL
A classic offering from Jeff Coutelou, the "touch of Classe in a glass" is 60% Syrah 40% Grenache this year. A dark and rustic red, with notes of ripe blackberry, red currant and fig, and medium tannins. Needs about 15 minutes open to blow off a bit of reduction, and would be best paired with food, though fans of dark purply reds may find plenty of enjoyment without the pairing. Jeff is super proud of this vintage and from our tasting of the wine on arrival, it seems this could be great with some bottle age. -EL
Yum yum! 5SO (say it ... "cinq so".. "cinsault") is all Cinsault, fresh and juicy. 12.5%, very uplifting and fun. A bit of wild raspberry, and fresh soil. An easy wine to sit back and drink on its own, or have with Asian cuisine. Serve with a light chill. -EL
Couleurs Reunies is a special cuvée from natural wine legend, Jeff Coutelou, made from 20-plus grapes, including many obscure, heat-resistant varieties. With global warming constantly threatening the future of grape growing, especially in parts of the vine growing world that are already warm, this project is extremely important, and it so happens that the wine is delicious too! Medium bodied, with nice acidity lent by white and grey varieties in the blend. Bravo Jeff! -EL
A blend of equal parts Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache, the Sauvé de la Citerne is a dark, brambly red. A bit reductive on opening, we assume due to Syrah's tendency for reduction. Perhaps the word "funky" could be used, but to me as with all the Coutelou wines, these are real, dense, authentic reds from Languedoc.By every definition, a natural wine, but not a juicy, fresh one. Give it air and have it with a hearty meal. -EL
Domaine Tinou's Jurançon Sec will please wine lovers who enjoy bone dry Riesling from the Rheinhessen or the Wachau. Same tension, same weight, just a little variation on the aromatics. Made from 85% Gros Manseng and 15% "Lauzet," a rare variety with only a few hectares still in production. The wine shows a very pale gold color with subtle aromas of pear and apple with more exotic fruits emerging and hints of hay, stone and white pepper. The palate is fairly dense and sapid with spiced pear and mineral flavors, raw almond, citrus and hay. It seems delicate and powerful at the same time, with nice length and firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, chicken, pork and mountain cheeses. Lovely wine. David Lillie
(Was $29.99) The 2017 Tinou Cuvée Speciale is a magnificent, perfectly balanced Jurançon made from 100% Petit Manseng with approximately 70 grams of RS per liter. The wine shows elegant aromas of pineapple, salty lemon, stone, honeysuckle and brown spice. The palate is dense and complex with lemon, pineapple, lime-flower and stone framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors with white fruits, citrus and earth in the very long finish. This is an outstanding Jurançon to sip by itself or to serve with foie gras, terrines, full-flavored cheeses, chicken in cream, Asian foods and more. Delicous now, this should age beautifully for 20 years or longer. (After two days open the wine really sings!) Thanks to Serge Hondet and his father for 53 years of organic farming!
This lovely Petillant Naturel is made from purchased, organically-grown fruit. It's 100% Gamay from 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils and 100% dry, delicate and delicious, with a little extra density in 2019, showing subtle aromas of raspberry, strawberry, rose and citrus. The palate is light and creamy with subtle red fruits, citrus and mineral flavors that continue in the long, clean finish. Really delightful and very affordable, too - thanks to Lise and Bertrand Jousset!
From the region of Graves, Chateau Auney l'Hermitage was known until 2012 as Chateau Le Chec. This estate is made up of 10 smaller domaines, which were put together after being abandoned, or right before being so. Certified organic since 2012. Harvested by hand from 25 year old vines - 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and Petit Verdot. A complex soil of limestone, clay, sand, on top of gravel sub-soils. Manually picked in mid September. Destemmed, before wine ferments with native yeasts. 15 months in wood, less than 25% new. Notes of shaved graphite, plum skins, damp soil, and soft green pepper on the nose, with a juicy, gently tannic palate with red apple, black cherry, and crushed rock.
Certified organic and Biodynamic, this estate is located on the same plateau as Saint Emilion and Pomerol. Soil is red clay, silt, and limestone. Vines average 50 years. Grapes are hand harvested. Native yeasts are used for fermentation, which happens in concrete over 2 weeks. The 2016 'Emilien' saw a total of 24 months in wood, none new. The nose is woodsy, with tree bark and wild herbs, forest plums and cherries. The palate is tense with dark minerals under a richer layer of black and red fruits, black pepper and earth. The structure is well-placed, medium tannin and medium acidity. Drinking exceptionally now, but will age over the next decade. David Hatzopoulos.
This wine is from the limestone plateau of near the village Belves-de-Castillon. It is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, from vines averaging 30 years old. Fermented naturally in wood and cement. Aged in barrel, with 10% being new wood, for 8 months before going into cement vats for 5 more months. Clos Puy Arnaud is owned by Theirry Valette, who brought the estate into both organic and biodynamic certification. The wine is beautiful, and really shows itself 3 or so hours after opening. The nose is dense and heady, full of ripe dark flowers, crushed cherries, with a savory waft of dried fruits like raisins and dates. The palate has a spark of firm black plum and graphite. A broad and warming body with tannin on all corners of the mouth refreshed by straight, balanced acidity. Delicious! David Hatzopoulos
Goyo Garcia Viadero produces small amounts of elegant, minimal intervention Ribera del Duero from high elevation plots planted with old vines of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). The Joven is a great introduction to Goyo Garcia's unique style. From a single vineyard of 35 year-old vines at about 860 meters of elevation, the grapes for the Joven are hand-harvested, destemmed, and then fermented with indigenous yeasts in steel tank. There is no fining or filtration before bottling, and no added SO2. For a Joven wine, this is strikingly serious and thoughtful without being heavy or extracted. Red and black fruits, with spice and violet show expressively on the nose after 30 minutes open, while the palate is a bit darker and more savory, with taut acidity, pretty tannins and a long finish that would pair nicely with sausages, lamb, or beef. (Wine arrives 3/12/20) Ben Fletcher
Goyo Garcia Viadero produces small amounts of elegant, minimal intervention Ribera del Duero from high elevation plots planted with old vines of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). The Joven is a great introduction to Goyo Garcia's unique style. From a single vineyard of 35 year-old vines at about 860 meters of elevation, the grapes for the Joven are hand-harvested, destemmed, and then fermented with indigenous yeasts in steel tank. There is no fining or filtration before bottling, and no added SO2. For a Joven wine, this is strikingly serious and thoughtful without being heavy or extracted. Compared to the 2018, the 2019 bottling shows a bit fresher and brighter, with maybe slightly less tannin and slightly red-er fruit. But it is similarly versatile at the dinner table, and shows classic Tempranillo character with plenty of mineral notes and delicate structure. Ben Fletcher
I adore the wines of Goyo Garcia Viadero, who is making natural wines in Ribera del Duero with his wife Diana Semova Geogieva. They farm high altitude plots of old vines, vinify in a traditional and low-intervention fashion with indigenous yeasts and without sulfur additions, and produce wines of great complexity and elegant beauty. This bottling, 100% Malvasia from old vines macerated on the skins, is a new addition to their line-up. Tasting it in Mid-July, it impressed me immensely. The nose is redolent of exotic spice (white tea, allspice, star anise) , roasted almond, and stone fruit, while the palate shows apricot, peach and jasmine, with bright notes of ginger. The skin-contact grants delicate, refined tannins and rich, waxy body to the wine. Truly, one of my favorite "orange wines" that I've ever encountered: intense, elegant, and memorable. Ben Fletcher
A Ponte is the newest single vineyard wine from Guímaro, from a new plot above their old vines in Finca Meixaman in the area of Amandi, the most celebrated subregion of Ribeira Sacra. The very steep, terraced site faces the southeast, looking out over the River Sil, and the soil is a mix of granite, slate, and sand. While most of the sites worked and vinified by Pedro Rodríguez are planted mainly to Mencia, A Ponte has been planted a to a nearly equal balance of Mencia, Caino, Brancellao, Merenzao and Souson. The inclusion of larger amounts of the lesser known local grape varieties is a forward thinking response to a succession of riper vintages due to climate change: these other grapes retain more acidity and freshness at higher degrees of ripeness than Mencia does. The vines here are still young, and their youthful quality perhaps translates to the comparative approachability of this wine next to wines coming from Pedro's other very old vine vineyards. Vinification is similar to the other single vineyard wines from Guímaro: grapes are all hand-harvested, then fermented whole cluster with 50 days of maceration before resting in used Burgundy barrels for 14 months. The 2018 vintage was outstanding in Ribeira Sacra, and this is a balanced, classic expression of the region's terroir: red fruits, green herbs, structuring tannins, and tons of mineral character. Outstanding. Ben Fletcher
The 2018 Sanguineto I e II Rosso has a great nose, full of dark fruit like black cherry and blueberry, along with essences of shaved cocoa, baking spice, and dark flowers. The palate boasts deep red cherry, earthy minerals, and black pepper. There is something so fulfilling about the mouthfeel here - it is so well textured, with slightly rich fruit, a touch of tannin, and medium acidity. The color in the glass is fresh red on the edges, with a dark red core.