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North of the Loire Valley there is another Loir(e) (without the e) flowing west through a bucolic countryside of low hills of Turonian limestone and siliceous clays where the south-facing slopes produce the scintillating Chenin Blancs of Jasnières and the vibrant reds (primarily Pineau D'Aunis) and whites (Chenin) of the Coteaux-du-Loir. Today's email features the wines of Natalie Gaubicher Heredia of Le Briseau, who was one of the earliest proponents of organic farming and natural winemaking in the region, and the crystalline Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir wines of Sebastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue.
Le Briseau, Natalie Gaubicher Heredia
Natalie Gaubicher Heredia is a pioneer in organic farming and natural winemaking in the Loire Valley. Trained as an oenologist and sommeliere, in 2002 she created Le Briseau in Marçon (Coteaux du Loir) with Christian Chaussard, producing beautiful natural wines from Chenin Blanc and Pineau D'Aunis. They soon branched out with a small négoce firm called Nana, Vins & Cie, using pruchased organic grapes from the Ardeche and Languedoc. After the tragic death of Christian Chaussard in 2012, Ms. Gaubicher continued on her own until her marriage to fellow winemaker Emile Heredia. She currently splits her time between the Loire and the Languedoc where Emile decamped to start his new estate, Domaine des Dimanches. Today's offer features 'Mama Mouchi' a delightful Pineau d'Aunis from young vineyards in the Coteaux du Loir and "Konjo Fouzitou," a playful, chillable red from the Languedoc. And, we're happy to offer her rather "serious" Pineau d'Aunis, the 2020 "Patapon" - this unique wine benefits from a few years in the cellar or a long decant, it's one of the finest examples of this fascinating grape...
Domaine de la Roche Bleue
Domaine de la Roche Bleue was established in 2008 by Sébastien Cornille, a native of Sancerre, with 3.5 hectares in Jasnières and 1.5 hectares in the Coteaux-du-Loir. Now totaling about 6.5 hectares, the estate is certified organic and uses biodynamic methods as well, very much in the style of his neighbor in the vines, Eric Nicolas. Sébastien works the soils without deep plowing, harvests by hand, vinifies with wild yeasts and without additives and uses minimal SO2. The 2021 Chenin Blancs here are beautiful wines, very pure and dry, in particular the scintillating Jasnières Sec. This vintage highlights the tension and minerality always present in Sebastien's wines, with subtle fruit and crystalline acidity. Sebastien makes beautiful reds as well; "La Belle d'Aunis" from 100% Pineau d'Aunis and "Guinguette" from Pineau d'Aunis, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Both are vibrant and refreshing light-bodied reds that are perfect accompaniments to pork and chicken dishes and mild-flavored cheeses. A special treat in today's offer - two vintages of the beautiful Jasnières "Clos de la Moliere" from a great mid-slope vineyard, and the 2019 "Belle d'Aunis" showing a lovely velvety side of Pineau d'Aunis!
Wines arrive Tuesday Jan 24 - All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case.
From Nathalie and Emile's vineyards in the Languedoc, this is a "kitchen sink" wine, a blend of red and white grapes that drinks like a Beaujolais, albeit with a touch of Southern spice. The white grapes here - Clairette, Terret and Grenache Blanc - are destemmed and macerated with whole clusters of the red grapes - Cinsault and Carignan. Everything is pressed afterwards and co-fermented. It's a harmonious blend, with no particular variety standing out, but all of them playing their part. There is pleasant weight in the mid-palate but all in all it behaves like a "chillable red," and would ideally be served cool.
'Patapon' has a following of die-hard old-school natural wine fans, for good reason. For many of us, it was our introduction to Pineau D'Aunis, obviously along with Robinot, Tue-Bouef, Clos Roche Blanche, and Puzelat-Bonhomme offerings from the early 2000s (to name a few). This wine always has a medium bodied palate, a bit of a surprise for folks who think that Pineau D'Aunis is thin or juicy. Some are, but not the Patapon! Careful with the chill, as the wine becomes tight, tannic and neutral on the nose when it's too cold. Best would be to serve this at cellar temp and let it warm up. A very lovely Pineau D'Aunis with deep, round spicy red fruits and hints of white pepper.
This is a beautiful and very dry Chenin Blanc from Sébastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue, from 30-year-old vines on slopes (80%) and terraces (20%) in the lieu-dit "Le Haut Perray" in Chahaignes, Coteaux du Loir. Thin red clay soils over limestone and deeper clay soils with silex giving yields of about 30 ha/hl. The grapes are harvested late to counterbalance the vibrant acidity normal in this terroir. The 2021 L'Orée de la Berterie is a bit austere when opened showing subtle aromas of anise, pear and stone that open up to include almond and citrus, quite bright and scintillating. The palate is vibrant and stony with quince, pear and herbal notes, finishing with vibrant acidity and minerality. Bring on the oysters! . Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. DL
100% Chenin Blanc, from 10 - 25 year-old vines on a slope of clay/silex soils on limestone, certified organic. Slow pressing of whole clusters; long fermentations, most in 4 to 6 year-old barriques, the younger vines in cuve inox; elevage in 6 year-old barrels. More austere than the 2020 vintage, the 2021 Jasnières Sec from Sébastien Cornille shows intriguing aromas of dried pear, pineapple, lime-flower, honey and stone. The palate is lean and mineral with citrus, dried apple and pear, wet stone and fines herbes. The finish is bone dry, mineral and long with firm acidity. Serve this scintillating Chenin Blanc with oysters, grilled and fried seafood, white meats and goat cheeses. Cellaring of five to ten years will reval a locely mature wine... David Lillie
From 25 - 30 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. Sébastien Cornille has quickly become one of the finest producers of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc on his 7 hectare estate in the Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières. The 2020 Jasnières "Clos es Molières" is an astonshing dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, nettle, almond, citrus and white earth. The palate is dense but crystalline and intensly mineral with white fruits, honey, almond, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the scintillating finish. Serve now with an elegant shellfish or fish preparation or hold for ten to fifiteen years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. Beautiful wine!
The 2019 "Clos des Molières" is from 30 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid and upper slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 2 year-old 400 liter barriques. After one year, the wine is assembled in barrel or cuve and ages for an additional 6 months, followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before commercialization. The wine shows subtle aromas of almond, lemon verbena, dried pear, apricot and apple, chalk and stone. The palate is full and dense but vibrant with a chalky texture and subtle, complex white and yellow fruits, citrus, and almond, scintillating and long. It's a wine of contemplation that will open up nicely with time. Serve now with a mildly flavored ceviche, grilled fish, white meats and goat cheesees or hold for ten+ years. This is a lovely Jasnières, bravo to Sébastien Cornille. David Lillie
Sebastien Cornille's lovely "Guinguette" is made from a blend of approximately 70% Pineau d’Aunis with 30% Gamay and Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+-year-old vines in the Coteaux du Loir in organic/ biodynamic farming. It undergoes semi-carbonic maceration with both whole-cluster and destemmed grapes in tank, end of fermentation and malo in 3 to 5 year-old barrels, 8 months elevage. The 2021 is light and fresh with aromas of tart cherry, raspberries and white flowers with just a hint of deeper plum fruit. The palate is a wave of fresh cherry, redcurrant and peppery spice, with ample acid and some tannic grip. It's best served slightly chilled and is a versatile pairing option with anything from roasted meats or vegetables to creamy cheeses.
The talented Sébastien Cornille is making some of the most beautiful wines in Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir - The 2019 "Belle d'Aunis" is 100% Pineau d'Aunis from old vines in clay with silex soils over limestone in the Coteaux du Loir; 15 day semi-carbonic maceration, slow pressing and assembly with the "jus de goutte" followed by aging in 3 to 4 year-old barrels. The 2019 shows a lovely dark red/garnet color and penetrating aromas of blackberry, black raspberry, and violet, earthy and deep, really lovely. The palate is dense and ripe with a bit of skin tannin, but supple and bright with very sapid black raspberry liqueur backed by firm and refreshing acidity in the long juicy finish. (Eric Pfifferling meets Pineau D'Aunis?) This is quite delicious and should develop nicely with age. Serve with grilled pork or lamb, a farm chicken. Sébastien says "more structured than the 2018, with very ripe black fruits and hints of spice - it will become more harmonious with a few months of aging, drink with red meats and spicy or Asian foods." Highly recommeded! David Lillie
"Quelle bête est-ce là?" - You can discuss amongst yourselves about the beast on the label. It seems to us like a cat on a sheep, but we don't know what to call it. What we do know is that Nathalie and the team at Le Briseau have bottled up a charming Pineau D'Aunis! From young vines in the Jasnières region, this is a new offering from Le Briseau, and one that we're very excited about. Lithe, herbaceous, with textbook notes of white pepper and crushed wild berries. A French retailer suggests that this is the perfect wine to drink while you wait for your bottles of 'Patapon' to mature. We'd have to agree, as this is clearly a wine for the moment, not the cellar. Drink with a light chill. Bottled without any added sulfites, but totally 'clean' (the one we tried was open for several hours and stayed delicious!). -EL