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1988 is considered to be a very fine vintage in Montalcino.
I’ve learned in my short stint thus far in the wine industry to not look down on good fortune when it strikes. In this case it was on a recent trip to Italy that a bottle of Antonio Camillo Cilegiolo was ordered with great enthusiasm by another member of the table. What arrived was a wine that stands out from much of the wine of Maremma in the very best way; a wine made exclusively of a single native variety , organically farmed, fermented with native yeast, and judiciously spared new oak that was an absolute pleasure. Made from a 2 hectare plot of 50 year old vines this wine also stands out as the only varietal example of Cilegiolo I've had the chance to taste, which is a real shame as it is lovely. With aromas of roses, red plums, strawberries, woody herbs and a slight touch of black pepper the wine smells like it belongs in a garden on a hot summer day. The palate shows density without being cloying; notes of moist rich earth mingle with slightly dried red fruit and a whiff of oolong tea lifted by bright acidity and a surprising mineral finish. It is versatile as well, suited to a slight chill or a long decant and a perfect match to seared duck breast but equally fit for game, pork, mild cheese, vegetarian dishes, and rich tomato sauces. Andy Paynter
Fornacina 2011 Brunello is a rich wine from a ripe vintage showing slightly roasted black cherry fruit and notes of tobacco, rosemary, and tar. the palate is dense with plenty of tannin and mouthwatering acidity showing more overtly fruity than the nose with a slight ferrous touch on the finish. Drinking well now the wine will certainly continue to age for another 10 years. The estate was certified organic in 2004 and only produces the Brunello from their own grapes in a traditional style: native yeast fermentation, raised in Slavonian botti for 3 years, and rested in bottle for 1 year. Try it with leg of lamb, grilled steak, or especially rich pork dishes. Andy Paynter
L'Aietta's first vintage of Brunello was in 2001 conducted entirely by 18 year old Francesco Mulinari on 1 hectare of his fathers land that was already registered to the DOC. The vines have been worked without chemical intervention since that first vintage and beginning in 2002 Francesco began the process of replanting the land in the traditional Alberello training method. The Brunello is fermented with ambient yeast in stainless steel for 21 days, raised in Slavonian oak for 40 months, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. His 2011 Brunello is a great example of delicate wine-making in a difficult vintage showing a big wine with ripe tannins but with plenty of acidity and brambly cherry fruit that is fresh rather than jammy. Rather bold upon opening the wine softens with some time showing tones of moist earth and a distinctly floral character. Open early and enjoy now or cellar to enjoy down the road. Andy Paynter
Aside from Gregory Dal Piaz’s fervent recommendation, I fell for Lecci e Brocchi for obvious reasons: the wine tastes like Chianti – very good Chianti, in fact. It’s aromatically quite intense, with bright red fruit bound to stone and savory rocky herbs. On the light side of medium-bodied, the palate follows the aromas – if anything the stony-iron character is more present. This is a very harmonious, long, and quite elegant Chianti. Tasted in the July heat, a little cool, it showed energy and grace (and was fantastic with butterflied leg of lamb from the barbeque). Jamie Wolff
From very old vines (replanted in 2015), this is very much in the same mold as the Chianti – and was vinified identically – but is considerably deeper and rounder without any additional wood, alcohol, or extract – just a direct expression of the old vines. I think this is remarkable – it strikes a fascinating balance between palate-enveloping darker fruit and finesse. Really a super wine. Jamie Wolff