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Well, the sun is shining (or it was yesterday), the streets are full of actual people walking around and there is a general sense of cautious optimism in the air about the year to come. Here at Chambers Street Wines, inventory is behind us, the doors are open to all of you again and we are looking around for new wines to keep things fresh. In the Burgundy department, we have some nice things arriving in the next week that you would be remiss to ignore.
First up is Domaine Guillemot-Michel. The Mâconnais is home to numerous superb estates, many being pioneers of organic and Biodynamic farming - our favorites including Domaine de la Bongran, Domaine de Roally, Clos des Vignes du Maynes and Château des Rontets. Relatively unknown and rarely available in the US are the unique and magical wines of Domaine Guillemot-Michel in Clessé where the living soils and meticulous winemaking create vibrant Chardonnays that cellar beautifully for 20 to 30 years. Pierrette Michel took over the family domaine in 1982 with her husband Marc Guillemot, now succeeded by daughter Sophie and her husband Gautier Roussille. Certified Biodynamic in 1991, the estates 6.5 hectares are situated on degraded Jurassic-era limestones with thin clay soils. With relatively high yearly rainfall, the unique soils and very old vines (planted between 1920 and 1989) produce intensely mineral wines with firm acidities.
We are also excited to present some new arrivals from Domaine Jean Fournier in Marsannay. Along with his friend Sylvain Pataille, over the last twenty years Laurent Fournier has been helping to remake the image of Marsannay among Burgundy lovers. Since taking over from his father in 2001, he has made a slew of changes both in the vineyard and cellar, from converting to organic viticutlure (EcoCert-certified) to reducing the quantity of sulphur in both the vines and the wines and bottling more individual parcels to highlight the diversity of Marsannay. He and Sylvain have both made very clear their love of serious Aligoté, not only treating as carefully as their Chardonnay but also bottling vineyard by vineyard. In general, these are wines treated carefully and with intention and the proof is in the bottle.
Next up is the wonderful Cremant de Bougogne from Dominique Gruhier. Based in Epineuil, in the Auxerre near Chablis, Dominique has been making serious mineral-laden reds and whites since 1990. His vineyards are certified organic and the vinifications are decidedly unfussy, with little to no new oak and generally no sulphur until bottling. His outstanding sparkling wines are made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on Kimmeridgien soils and the chalk is readily apparent.
No introduction is needed for Domaine Michel Lafarge. Perhaps the best-known and best-loved estate in Volnay, these wines are endlessly sought-after. Alas no Volnay today. Instead, we have some of the superb Aligoté, "Raisins Dorés." This is one of the best examples of the variety produced in the region, from vines nearly ninety years old. Like all the Lafarge wines, this ages brilliantly or can be drunk with abandon now. A rare treat to be able to offer this so late in the release year! Sam Ehrlich
**Guillemot-Michel arrives Friday 5/28**
** Fournier, Gruhier and Lafarge all arrive the week of June 1**
The Guillemot-Michel "Une Bulle" comes from a tiny parcel of old vines on limestone with red clay, high in iron. The wine is a Pet-Nat (Methode Ancestrale) that is bottled after a short period of fermentation, leaving enough sugar in the wine for the fermentation to continue and create the desired bubbles. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for around 18 months, then riddled and disgorged and re-bottled with a bit more "Une Bulle." The result is a very delicious aged Pet-Nat showing honeyed aromas of pear and white peach with hints of almond, marzipan and brioche. On the palate the mousse is soft and creamy with flavors of peach and quince with lime-flower and minerals and a long finish of white fruits, citrus peel and firm acidity. This is a delightful wine to sip by itself or pair with mild cheeses, patés and terrines, fruit desserts.. David Lillie
We're extremely happy to have the wines of Guillemot-Michel back at Chambers Street! Along with Jean and Gautier Thevenet, and Julien Guillot at Vignes du Maynes, they are making white Burgundies with more depth and minerality than anything comparably priced in the Cote D'Or. The 2017 Quintaine is a gorgeous white Burgundy, showing a brilliant pale gold color and complex aromas of poached pear, almond, candied lemon, kiwi, stone and lime-flower, elegant and quite beautiful. The palate is round and dense with firm acidity, showing cool stone fruits and citrus with caramel, stone and mineral flavors. The finish is long and earthy, with chalky white fruits lingering on the palate. (At a recent tasting, the 1989 and 1990 were showing beautifully, so put a few in the cellar!) Beautiful wine - congratulations to Pierrette, Marc, Sophie and son-in-law Gautier!
Created in 2017, this cuvee is issued from grapes in the "Champ-Rond" vineyard, vinified in amphora of 800 liters. The 65 year-old vines are grafted on "Riparia Gloire de Montpellier" an old root-stock obtained in 1880, giving very low yields with magnificent small grapes, of a deep gold color. The Retour a la Terre presents the exotic notes typical of the domaine with an extra dimension of expression due to the respiration of the amphora. The small grapes of "Champ-Rond" ripen beautifully without a high degree of alcohol - they are picked on the last day of the harvest, and the elevage in amphora gives the wine a great purity. The wine shows elegant floral, white fruit, apricot, lemon and stone aromas. The palate is round, dense and silky with fabulous length. This is a superb white Burgundy that is delicious now and will cellar beatifully for fifteen to twenty years. Highly recommended!
The 2017 Cremant from Dominique Gruhier is 65% Pinot Noir/35% Chard, farmed organically and planted on classic Kimmeridgien soils. The fruit leans towards delicate red berries, with an anchor of limestone in the mid-palate that immediately reminds one just how close Dominique is to Chablis. The bubbles are quite fine and there is no shortage of acid or freshness. An excellent value and a great sub for Champagne without paying Champagne prices. Sam Ehrlich
From two parcels in Marsannay where the vines average nearly ninety years old, planted in very rocky clay soils. This is incredibly serious Aligote, with a nose full of high-toned citrus and white fruits and flowers. On the palate the vintage is certainly evident, as this has a bit more weight and breadth than one normally expects but the mineral intensity of this wine is quite extraordinary. This is delicious but will age extremely well. Laurent is a charter member of the syndicat Les Aligoteurs, an organization of growers who are dedicated to growing and promoting top-class Aligote. This bottle is a good indicator of why. Sam Ehrlich
This is from vines planted around 1975 and is always a favorite in the lineup. The soils here are sandy, pebbly and well drained and the fruit is fermented about 25% whole bunch. Combined with Laurent's rather gentle fermentations, this yields a buoyant juicy wine that is full of pleasure. While the fruit is a touch darker than the incredibly bright-red 2017, this is still full of quenching acidity and a generally refreshing quality. The stems give it a touch of spice and rose notes and boost the overall sense of energy. Sam Ehrlich
From vines planted in 1937 in clay and limestone, this is an Aligote of terrific structure and density, with aromatics of lemon pith and a chalky dustiness that is reminiscent of clapping blackboard erasers. Like the Fournier, there is real power in this wine, with incredible mineral depth. A terrific wine, with excellent potential for aging and generally a benchmark for Aligote in the Cote D'Or. Sam Ehrlich