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This is another one where I will keep it short and get to the heart of the matter. Our quest for wines that belong on your table and in your glass every night is never-ending. As fast as we can rustle them up, you are drinking them. Our criteria is simple: vines that are farmed well without chemicals and fruit that is hand-harvested, fermented with natural yeasts and presented without artifice. Sounds simple enough, anyway. This often leads us to return to some producers again and again, because whether the vintage in question presents them with challenges and hard decisions, or with a relatively breezy season, they create wines of real character and substance.
Some weeks back, we offered out a parcel of Vezelay from our friend Valentin Montanet and it was gone in a matter of hours. We are thusly thrilled to have put our hands on another chunk of Valetin's wine for this weekend. This time the wine comes from the esteemed family estate, Domaine de la Cadette. Valentin's parents planted their first vines in 1987, converted to organic farming in 1999 and shortly after created the domaine and began bottling their own wines shortly after. In the twenty-plus years since, they have been the benchmark for Vezelay. Though the appellation sits halfway between Beaune and Chablis, its profile is firmly Chablisien, producing intensely mineral wines.
Today's parcel is a cuvée called La Piècette, a pun on the words for both standard barrels and the half-size that one occasionally finds in the region. From the classic thin clay and limestone soils that characterize the region, this 2018 is a wine of deep character and intense satisfaction. Do not be scared by the reputation of the vintage as too warm for whites. The northern end of Burgundy fared incredibly well in '18, and as my esteemed colleague John McIlwain said, Vezelay is not an appellation that ever suffered for a bit of gras. But to really drive it home, I happen to think that the early handwringing over white wines that year was hugely premature and overblown. Having re-tasted a host of 2018 whites over the last few months, I have been knocked out. They have begun to shed a little fat, revealing serious minerality and structure. (It's also worth pointing out that for such a solar vintage, alcohol levels are quite moderate).
This Vezelay is no exception. On the nose and palate, there are lovely notes of Meyer lemon, white flowers and crisp fennel. It's the kind of wine I want to both drink and douse myself in. But sit with it in the glass and the minerality becomes more and more exposed. There is plenty of acidity to give it length and staying power, and while certainly has a bit more weight than these wines do in cool vintages, this only adds to the pleasure of it. It is delicious.
A wine like this is a confirmation that talented growers who treat their vines with care and respect will invariably produce wines that are compel us to return, regardless of the perception of the season's circumstances. Also, lobster roll season is fast approaching! Trust me that you will be glad you stocked up on this. As an added bonus, purchase six bottles today and receive the case discount of ten percent.
*** This is a pre-arrival offer. Wine will be in stock by the end of this coming week ***
From some of Cadette's oldest vines, this is a (relatively) full feeling Vezelay and one that speaks clearly of its origins in northern Burgundy. This is brimming with ripe citrus and fruit blossom notes, with crunchy fennel and other green savory notes at the edges. There is more roundness than in some colder vintages but still no lack of acidity or mineral structure. From the moment it hits the glass it is obvious that this is a wine of (almost) the Auxerre, brimming with seashell notes. In lean vintages, this is an oyster wine. The extra little bit of weight would make this a wonderful partner to a lobster roll or a mess of peel'n'eat shrimp as we head into warmer weather. So open a bottle, then a second and raise a glass to the Montanet family, their talent and hard work! Sam Ehrlich