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Some returning favorites, but also two new wines.
Lightening strikes twice: there is a second interesting Bardolino* producer!
I admit to fundamental ignorance about Bardolino: I dismissed the wine for years because I was unlucky and only tasted confected wines that were technically correct but very dull, or worse. Then we met the excellent Villa Calicanthus, and now the lovely wines from Casaretti, an organic producer making delicious wines that are perfect for the season.
*Bardolino is the name of the wine zone (DOC) on the eastern shore of the spectacular Lago di Garda; along with Como and Maggiore, Garda is the 3rd in the line of large glacial lakes, and is equally beautiful – and popular.
Bardolino is just north of Valpolicella, and shares the same three grapes (Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella) as those wines. The “Nogara” is mostly Corvina, with some Rondinella; despite the fact that Corvina is the more structured grape, the Nogara is a lively and fresh expression in which it’s hard to perceive the relationship between Bardolino and Amarone. The color is quite light (a dark Rosato in some other quarters), and cranberry and strawberry fruit dominate, underpinned by lime peel and chalk – refreshing chilled, easy to drink at 12.5 alcohol, guaranteed to hit the spot on a hot day, and absolutely delicious. Jamie Wolff
The Rosa dei Casaretti is lighter in color than many Italian Rosatos, but the wine has some real depth. Aromatically charming, with strawberry dominating, and leafy herbal notes and a hint of grapefruit peel balancing the ripe fruit. The wine is light and very fresh; we drank it at home with a summer risotto of shell peas, sugar snap peas, and pecorino – it was a great match. Jamie Wolff
Foradori first produced Lezer in 2017 as an experiment as an alternative to their more serious red wines; it was a big hit and is now much anticipated – and in short supply. You will find that your glass is hard to put down – it’s easy drinking, but shows still some complexity, with juicy cranberry, pomegranate, and softer ripe fruits, and is great chilled – perfect for summer. Jamie Wolff
I should have known by now that 8 year-old Greco di Tufo had the potential to mature in a very positive way, but this took me by surprise. It’s first a very mineral, chalky wine. It has apricot and peach fruit balanced by lemony acidity – it’s very fresh. There are charming savory notes – like fresh tarragon, and walnuts. It has a lot of richness and opulent texture without being heavy, the opulence being balanced by some tannin – there is no significant skin contact here, but Greco has tannin, which helps give the wine remarkable length. The alcohol is 13.5, which seems just about right as the wine shows no heat or imbalance. It’s not a shy or subtle wine – one of the things that made me think of French wine, since so many Italian white wines are relatively delicate in expression and need to be teased into the open. I Favati works organically in the vines; the Greco is fermented with indigenous yeasts in steel, where it stays for most of a year, with batonnage. It’s bottled unfiltered, and the Etichetta Bianca (white label) is aged in bottle for 4-5 years before it’s released. After 7-8 years, it’s a thing of beauty. Jamie Wolff
This is one of my favorite Rosatos which I look forward to every year. It's from Faro in Sicily - north of Etna, in fact almost at the very north-east tip of Sicily, in a spectacular vineyard above the sea. Because it's the same grapes as Etna (Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, + the local Noccera) you get some of the same sensations, but Faro has much sandier soils, and the wine is more fruit-forward, strong on cranberry and raspberry. Fairly dark in color, this is incredibly adaptable with food - no shy, watery Provencal wannabe, but with real depth, even at 11.5% alcohol, so easy drinking, with gravitas. Jamie Wolff