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In Which Our Choices for Great Inexpensive Wines are Recommended by Eric Asimov in the NY Times. (For Mr. Asimov's complete article "20 Under $20: Beckoning Bottles in the Dead of Winter" click here.) We're thrilled that Mr. Asimov enjoyed the wines he found at Chambers Street and we remind you that all year round CSW is one of the country's great sources of fine wines under $20, most of them from organic or Biodynamic farming!
We'd like to feature the wines of our friend Stéphane Guion, whose 2019 Cuvée Domaine is the first entry in Mr. Asimov's article. We first encountered Stéphane's wines at the Salon des Vins de Loire in 2008 while tasting samples submitted by organic growers, along with Marc Ollivier of Domaine de la Pépière. We agreed with Marc that the wines were quite special and soon afterwards our first shipment of the 2007 Cuvée Domaine arrived in NY.
Domaine Guion was created by Stéphane's father in the 1950's and was certified organic beginning in 1965. The estate's 8 hectares are all in Benais mostly on Turonien limestone with varied depths of clay topsoil. Only 15% of the vines are on gravel topsoil, in "La Ruée," used primarily for the rosé and a small amount in the Cuvée Domaine. The parcels are just west of Domaine de la Chevalerie and Domaine Breton, in the northern sector of Benais, on slopes facing south and southwest, which is prime real estate for ageworthy, mineral-laden Bourgueils! The Cuvée Prestige is from vines averaging 45 years of age in the parcels "Grand Mont," "les Marquises," le Vlaudons," "le Maupas," "les Caveries," "Petit Mont" and "Chavannes."
The 2018 Cuvée Prestige is a superb wine, delicious now and it will be quite profound in ten to fifteen years. $16.99? Speaking of 2018, we have 2 cases left of Stéphane's delicious 2018 Bourgueil Rosé, which has shed a bit of it's vibrant acidity and is now drinking beautifully...
The "Cuvée Deux Monts" is from the estate's oldest vines, averaging 70 years of age, in the parcels "Grand Mont" and "Petit Mont," which are near the top of the slope in Bourgueil and yield the regions most deep and ageworthy wines. This wine is produced only in the best vintages - the new release is 2017 as Stéphane felt the 2015 lacked the necessary tannin and acidity, and the yield was too small in 2016. And we have a few cases left of the superb 2014 - from one of our favorite vintages for Loire reds!
Please try the rest of the delicious wines in today's article that were chosen by Mr. Asimov!
Pick-up or shipping can be scheduled for the week of January 24th
(Pre-Arrival, in store 5/13) This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stéphane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2019 Cuvèe Domaine is from not-so-young (15 to 40 year-old) vines, mostly on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is equal to the superb 2018 with perhaps a bit more brightness to the fruit. The wine shows a vibrant black/red color and lush aromas of raspberry and blackberry confit, dark chocolate and violets - very deep and ripe but still bright with earthy hints as well. The palate is medium-bodied and very fresh with firm acidity and chalky, saline mineral flavors framing the very ripe, chalky red and black fruits, which continue in the long sappy finish. Drink now, served cool, with grilled chicken and pork, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses, or hold 5 to 8 years for a velvety mature experience. This is a beautiful wine and a sensational value! David Lillie
2018 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 45 years old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in Benais, a terroir that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2018 is a great vintage for Loire reds, despite the very warm and humid spring that brought attacks of mildew. The summer was perfect, warm and dry, without spikes of heat, and the soils retained enough moisture to bring freshness to the very ripe grapes. Tasted with Stéphane in February 2020, the 2018 Prestige showed elegant intensely perfumed aromas of red and black fruit liqueurs. The palate was complex and earthy, very calcaire, dense but not heavy with beautifully supple ripe red and black fruits, with a long finish of saline and mineral flavors quite present below the sappy fruit. We look forward to a more thorough tasting after the wine rests from its voyage, but it's quite clear that this will be delicious to drink as a young wine, and - although it may seem crazy to cellar a $17 wine for 20 to 30 years - those that do will be rewarded with a unique expression of this great terroir. I'm hoping to live to be 100 to have that experience myself! David Lillie
Thorsten Melsheimer has been farming organically in the Mosel since 1995 (certified ECOVIN) and became Demeter (biodynamic) certified in 2013. The 'Handwerk' is actually a blend of three different barrels: a QBA trocken, Kabinett, and Spätlese. Off dry, and high-toned with a fine bead of mineral character within, brimming with energy and perfect for the soft shell crab, flowering chives, or soy sauce noodles at Great New York Noodletown, or your favorite neighborhood Chinese spot.
(Tasted in August 2021, this beautiful wine has softened considerably and is showing lovely berry fruits - peak drinking summer of 2022 and beyond.) The 2018 Bourgueils of Stéphane Guion, tasted in early February 2019, are just extraordinary, with an extra layer of vibrant fruit, beginning with this gorgeous rosé. 50 years of organic farming and great traditional winemaking give this refreshing wine its perfect balance with beautiful fruit and great earthy expression of the gravel and limestone/clay terroir. The wine shows lush strawberry/raspberry aromas with citrus, rose and earth. Raspberry, blood orange, melon and earthy flavors on the ripe but dry palate which is framed in firm acidity and saline minerals. This is a real rosé of terroir, and for lovers of Cabernet Franc it's one of the greatest values around - drinking beautifully now and through 2022, with burgers, roast chicken, grilled pork and charcuterie. David Lillie
From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Our first taste of the 2017 "Deux Monts" revealed it to be a superb wine, quite deep and ripe but still light on its feet and with a particularly long and focused finish. Says Stéphane "the weather in 2017 was quite warm in spring and summer with a bit of rain in september - the wine is quite floral with ripe red fruits and mineral flavors on the palate with round, supple tannins and the limestone terroir quite present in the finish." It's a beautiful wine showing the old vines and great terroir...
(In our warehouse, arrives 4/11) From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2014 is a particularly good vintage for Loire reds to age. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
This delightful estate uses one-third Syrah, one-third Grenache and one-third Cinsault in their Corbières Rouge, grown on limestone/clay soils in the foothills of Mont Alaric, certified organic since 2007. The wine shows aromas of blackberries, ripe plums, and tiny wild blueberries, as well as notes of balsam wood. Like all the best Languedoc offerings, there's a wild edge here with a bit of funk that is tempered by juicy sleekness. Its excellent balance and wealth of ripe tannins make it a natural at the table - serve with a stew or grilled meats, a coq au vin with farm chicken or guinea hen, and full-flavored cow cheeses.
Juan Peñagaricano Akutain worked at CVNE and La Rioja Alta before planting his own vineyard in Rioja Alta in 1975. Ever since, he and his son, Jon Peñagaricano, have sought to produce classicly styled Rioja wines at a smaller scale, sourcing grapes from their own plots, which they work without chemicals and harvest by hand. Since 2015 they have produced this wine, a Cosecha (unaged) Rioja, fermenting Tempranillo and a little bit of Garnacha in fiberglass and resting the wine in the same container before bottling without fining or filtering. The 2018 shows the terroir of Rioja Alta without any distractions: it is a wine of pure fruit and earth. Notes of ripe cherry abound on the nose, interspersed with notes of green tobacco and earth. The palate follows, with similar pretty cherry quality and a long and broad clay-y minerality. This is a cosecha Rioja, without oak or long aging, and as a result it is much lighter than the wines that many think of as Rioja: it is perfectly suited to drinking with a slight chill into the summer. Ben Fletcher
Gioventu Chianti comes from Michael Schmeltzer, the man behind our beloved Monte Bernardi wines. As expected, this wine is fantastic - worth so much more than the $16 price per bottle. From younger vines (planted in 2010) of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Ciliegiolo. After the grapes are crushed, the wine ferments naturally in cement tanks. Aging in also in cement and lasts 12 months. There is no fining or filtering before bottling. The color of the wine shows a burgundy center, becoming a clearer, burnt red on the edges. The nose is bold, with complex layers of fruit and earth. Aromas of black cherry, dark red flowers, and crushed, loamy rocks are at the core, with spicy, woodsy smells of milled black pepper and autumnal dried leaves right above it. The palate is focused on savory fruits of blackberry, cherry, and red citrus, freshened by a zing of clean minerality. Structure-wise, this wine has power, with long lasting acidity, and tannin on the top of the gums and down the tongue. An incredibly delicious wine! Paired wonderfully with taco truck carnitas and al pastor on day two... David Hatzopoulos
Situated in the heart of wine-growing zone of Crete, Greece, in Dafnes of Heraklion, on hill slopes at an altitude of 350 - 450 meters. The terroir of the Dafnes region is characterized by limestone soil and the prevailing microclimate is considered ideal for producing high quality grapes. The Dafnes region has a long viticulture history, according to written records, since the Venetian rule in Crete. Dafne is the name of the winery's village as well as the Laurel tree the nymph Daphne was transformed into after rejecting Apollo's advances (hence the laurel leaves on the label). Douloufakis is one of the oldest wineries on the island and certified organic.Their Vidiano explodes with aromas of white flowers, herbs, pears, citrus and wet rocks. The palate is medium bodied, citrusy and herbal with a mineral, long finish. For lovers of Assyrtiko and Albarino. Serve with pork roast with leeks or octopus with chickpeas and peppers. Giselle Hamburg
The Valravn Chardonnay comes from a blend of Sonoma vineyards, 40% Sonoma Coast, 30% Russian River & 30% Sonoma Valley, all farmed without synthetic chemicals . The fruit from the Russian River valley is fermented in barrels, but the remainder is fermented in stainless steel to maintain their freshness, with 40% of the blend going through malo. The wine is aged in French oak, with just 25% new barrels used. On the nose notes of buttercup daisies, yogurt, fresh yellow apple, ripe pear, and lemon oil. On the palate is a nice creaminess up front, followed by bright acidity, and finishes with a mouth-coating silkiness. Notes of creamy white peach, juicy pear, lemon, and a tiny touch of lemon pith on finish to maintain balance. A fantastic deal for well made Sonoma Chardonnay! Michelle DeWyngaert
A collaboration between our good friend Eric Texier, and a biodynamic farmer named Cyril Cuche. Cyril’s family owns a massive chunk of land, which he has been working organically and biodynamically for over a decade. The estate has always practiced polyculture with wild forest, grains, vines, and more, all contributing to the biodiversity. Without any winemaking experience, Cyril turned to Eric Texier to help produce a wine with wild yeast fermentation and no added SO2. This is a frothy and refreshing rosé Pet-Nat that is unfiltered and quite delicate on the palate. A great choice for a thirst quenching afternoon bottle and a must try for fans of ancestral style Pet Nats. -Eben
A pitch perfect dry Riesling in the Federspiel style. We've tasted a lot of good Riesling from 2019 vintage, but it's rare to find one that we can put on the shelf for $20 or less. This offering from the Fischer family gives a nice touch of petrol on the nose, nice density, and a clean finish. Fun fact: the Salmon on the bottle represents the effort of the family to repopulate the Danube with wild Salmon.
This is the newest project from Agusti Torello Roca, focused on producing red wines from the Montsant DO. Mostly Garnacha, with a small percentage of Carignan, from a mixture of limestone, clay and granite soils. Fermentation is in stainless steel and aging is in 500L used French barrels. This is a beautiful Montsant that favors balance and acidity over extraction, new oak, and high alcohol. -EL
From Samantha Sheehan, wine maker of POE Wines. This is juicy red- and black-fruited Cali Cab, with the barest hints of violets and sage. A touch of Cabernet Franc adds freshness and there is good acidity in this wine make up for the relatively gentle tannins. This is not a bruiser. It's all about pure honest fruit.