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This amazing Gewurztraminer is made by Kenny Likitprakong, winemaker for Ghostwriter, Camp, and Folk Machine among other labels. One of California's most dynamic and talented winemakers, his Banyan line was what he created to specifically pair with southeast Asian cuisine. After a few years of experimentation bottling a couple different varieties, he's settled on this incredible Gewurztraminer. We all know this grape to have some floral character, but much of time it can be extraordinarily forceful on the nose. The nose on this wine is less hothouse orchid and more spring meadow, with much less cloying character. Quite light, with a lot of structure and acidity, this wine is essentially dry, but holds up great against any range of Thai, Vietnamese, Malayan, Indonesian, or Laotian dishes. Andrew Farquhar
This Sauvignon Blanc is sourced entirely from La Chenaie vineyard, is one of the best sites in all of Oregon. Cooled by the winds from the Van Duzer corridor and situated on the famed volcanic Jory soils, this site reveals an extraordinary Sauvignon Blanc that is elegant, precise, and terroir expressive. The nose is beautiful, with some muted herbal characteristics, fine citrus fruit, and a touch of sea air. The palate is broad without being rich or flabby, with a linear acidic backbone that reveals some aging potential. Here Sauvignon Blanc's occasional grassiness morphs into delicate lemongrass, its sometimes too-tropical fruit is refracted into a spray of softer apricot and Meyer lemon, and its frequent greenness is dialed into the background. This is one of the most impressive domestic Sauvignon Blanc's I've had in a while. Andrew Farquhar
The Quaker Run Vineyard, planted in 1999, is located on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nearly touching Shenandoah National Park. This Chardonnay's spontaneous fermentation lasted for nearly 11 months and then rested on the lees for an additional seven months. Big, round, and extraordinarily texturally dense, this wine has fine leesy, yeasty, bready character that is elegantly interpolated through the fine white peach and meyer lemon fruit core. This is a big classic Chardonnay, though it has fine acid structure that adds to a long, slightly funky, lingering finish. Andrew Farquhar
Eminence Road is one of the most consistent producers of high quality wines in the Finger Lakes. This Riesling is from vines planted in loam over shale and limestone, sourced from the eastern bank of Seneca Lake. This is big and structured with a crystalline brilliance on the palate that is breathtaking. A wine of precision, this will age gracefully for 5-10 years, and is designed to complement the offerings of the country table. Andrew uses very little sulfur in the converted hillside cow barn. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Andrew Farquhar
Disclaimer: this is not made from apples (but it is fantastic). Raphael Lyon, the man behind Enlightenment Wines, had been crafting some serious mead in Clintondale, NY for some time before he moved his operation to a small space in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Made from wildflower honey and fermented to dryness, it sounds like something you may have had before, but Lyon’s process is anything but the norm. The wildflower honey is allowed to spontaneously ferment in used red wine barrels sourced from local wineries, with no SO2 added at any time, and is aged in barrel for one year before bottling. Though Raphael doesn’t advertise it, Nought is a single barrel release and will have subtle differences depending on what kind of honey is used (and where the honey is from) as well as other variances in the winemaking process. All of his meads are bottled unfined and unfiltered. Nought is heady on the nose with blossom, toasted coconut, honey-roasted walnut, red berry fruits, and bergamot. It is quite round on the palate with ample acidity and a vinous quality not found in many other meads. It finishes bone-dry with apricot, pineapple stalk, and a hint of orange peel. This is a seriously exciting foray into mead. Thanks, Raphael! Tim Gagnon
This dry Muscat is from the Suisun Valley, and it's the first year Folk Machine has bottled a Muscat. 100% Muscat Canelli (Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains), this was fermented in stainless steel. This dry wine has gorgeous floral, peachy, white grape juice aromas, but on the palate is a well-built, finely structured dry wine. There is a breadth of palate that makes it excellent for sipping cold in the sunshine.
This is a Chardonnay containing great, lustrous depths. The color of yellow topaz, this wine displays incredible concentration of fruit and earth, with dense lemon and pear character surrounded by white flower, honeysuckle, and a dusty, riverbed quality that is truly remarkable. A touch of nuttiness can be found in the back palate, and the wine displays an extraordinarily long finish with a kaleidoscopic array of aftereffects. The dialogue between clear acid structure and dense weight feels iconic. Right now, this wine responds well to air, with an aroma that continues to bloom over the course of several hours, yet I feel that this wine is truly meant for the cellar, where it will continue to grow and change for the next twenty to thirty years. Andrew Farquhar
Ovum is an exciting, predominantly Riesling-based project from winemakers John and Ksenija House from Southern Oregon, based out of the Rogue Valley. The Rogue Valley is in fact made up of the valleys of three separate rivers which are, from West to East: the Illinois River, the Applegate River, and Bear Creek. The Bear Creek Valley is the warmest and driest place in the state of Oregon, whereas the Illinois River Valley, from which this Riesling is sourced, is the coolest and wettest region in the state. Grown in serpentine soils, very rare for viticulture due to its hardness and poor nutrient retention, this is a powerful Riesling with loads of electric acidity and an incredible funky floral character: lime flower, sap, and dense crystalline citric fruit meld together in an amazing, expressive wine. Andrew Farquhar
This is a 100% Chardonnay sourced from two different parcels of younger vines, one planted in sandy, stony soils, the other in red clay rich with iron. Spontaneous fermentation and aging in a combination of neutral barriques and demi-muid. This is an expressive cold-weather Chardonnay, which walks the line between tartness and richness. Subtle notes of creamy sweet spices with a dash of mint play with a touch of lemon and unripe pear on the nose, while the palate is broad and textured, though with a fine vein of acidity. On the palate, the minerality comes to the fore, making this a fantastic food wine. 390 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
This Riesling is from vines planted right next to Lake Ontario in sandy soils. Spontaneous fermentation occurs in a combination of stainless steel tank and foudre before being racked into concrete tanks for elévage. This is a very funky, terroir expressive Riesling, with lots of dense, funky notes of pollen, silt, and an earthy, orchid floral character. On the palate a nice note of lemon curd comes through, with fantastic, razor-sharp acidity. Would benefit from a little decanting. This wine has excellent structure, which will pair well with food. Not only does this ache for freshwater fish, it is a natural pairing for more strongly flavored cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or brussels sprouts. Andrew Farquhar
Francois Morissette is one of the most creative and uncompromising producers making wine in Canada. His Irrévérence Blanc is a new cuvée exploring skin contact aromatic white grapes. 64% Riesling, 22% Chardonnay, and 14% Gewurztraminer, each of these grapes was fermented separately and using very different methods. The Riesling was fermented in stainless steel, the Chardonnay was fermented in concrete and spent 6 months in foudre, and the Gewurztraminer was fermented on the skins in qvevri for six months. After blending, another three months were spent in foudre before the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Gewurztraminer marks its territory with light, delicate tannins and a distinct but not overbearing floral aroma, and the Riesling gives fantastic citric energy and tension. The Chardonnay insinuates itself more subtly, lending a certain breadth of texture, a structural elegance, and ephemeral wisps of orchard fruits to the long finish. This is a perfect aperitif wine that is taking the wine bars of Toronto by storm. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from estate fruit and organically farmed vineyards in the Green Valley sub-AVA of Russian River. Elegantly textured, with stylish apple and pear fruit mixing with a hint of salinity and crushed oyster shells, this is a perfect companion for heavier seafood dishes, particularly anything involving lobster. Whole cluster pressed and aged for 11 months in 25% new French barrique. What impresses me most about this Chardonnay is its reserve. Medium-bodied, the oak shows itself more in its textural integration than on the palate. 450 cases produced.
Precedent is the label of Nathan Kandler, longtime winegrower at Thomas Fogarty in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a renowned destination for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Precedent illustrates Kandler's versatility and curiosity and has introduced us to some truly unique California vineyard sites. Wirz Vineyard is home to 60+ year-old dry farmed, head-trained Riesling on decomposed granite over limestone in the Gabilan mountains. We usually have an off-dry Riesling on the table, but I'm happy to go in a drier direction in this case...concentrated, gleaming apricot, citrus rind, and tropical fruit is laced with gritty, long minerality and backed by supple texture and acidic tension. Terrific with herbed root vegetables and citrus glazed poultry or fish and anything peppery or spicy. Ariana Rolich
Revik Wine Co. is the passion project of two married couples who released their first vintage this past summer. This is a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc that positions itself at the forefront of a new wave of dynamic, elegantly structured, complex Sauvignon Blancs coming from the West Coast. Made with fruit sourced from the Saphi Vineyard in Coombsville (Revik winemaker Phil Holbrook's dry-farmed home vineyard), this wine was aged in both stainless steel and neutral oak, with 8 months on the lees. Unfined and unfiltered, and fermented with native yeast, this wine has great depth and a long linear texture, with subtle, muted citrus fruit wrapped in a chrysalis of finely spun woolen notes. Peach fuzz and melon rind absorb into zippy acidity. The subtle degrees of shading are spectacular and the finish feels like forever. Andrew Farquhar
The Horseshoe vineyard was planted in 2004 at an elevation ranging from 1,360 to 1,610 feet above sea level, with the blocks of Chardonnay occupying the lowest, most fog-ridden portions of the vineyard. The vineyard lies on the Monterey formation, a ridge of brittle, rust-mottled sedimentary shale (intermixed with limestone) that provides swift drainage and allows for low vigor. Interestingly, the warmest month at Horseshoe is September, mitigating the difficulties of the previous cool summer months with a final solar sear at the end of the season. On the nose this wine has notes of apple blossom and freshly baked bread, with some more delicate white peach notes. On the palate, this wine is still quite tightly wound, but with incredible dense notes of steely lemon, with great crackling acidity that is nonetheless exquisitely integrated throughout all aspects of the clear, precise structure from fore-palate to the long whiplash finish. Capable of improving for up to a decade in the cellar, though this wine would be fantastic with herb-roasted chicken or Point Reyes oysters. Andrew Farquhar
This bright, fresh, sunny sauvignon blanc is a classic Mendocino style, sourced from the Gibson and McFadden vineyards. Bright citrus fruit and pleasant herbal characteristics meld with spring grassland on the palate, reminiscent of a Sancerre but a touch softer and with more rounded fruit. A nice subtle floral character is interlaced throughout nose, palate, and finish. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from the oldest Riesling vines along the banks of Seneca Lake, planted in 1972 on the warmer eastern bank of the lake. Seneca is the deepest of the Finger Lakes, which allows it to moderate the temperature along its banks more than the other lakes. Cayuga, to its west, while having a larger surface area, is much shallower, and you can tell along its muggy banks during the summer. This is a beautiful textured Riesling with fine balance, great acidity, ripe citrus and apple fruit, and just a tiny hint of residual sugar. This is a steal for the price, and one of the best deals I've ever seen coming from New York State. While this will pair well with food, I think this is an ideal summer aperitif. Organic practice in the vineyard, awaiting certification, and low sulfur in the winery. Andrew Farquhar
Stolpman's Roussanne vineyards have an amazing advantage that makes us believe Roussanne from Santa Barbara will become a well-known style in the future. As many know, Santa Barbara is one of the coolest regions in California, though it is also the southernmost. After the break in the Coastal Range that lets in all the cold air from the Pacific, the Transverse Ranges funnel the fog in towards Ballard Canyon and it dissipates earlier in the day and the maritime influence is mitigated, yet still the air is cold. Being at 34 degrees latitude south allows the skin of the grapes to tan in the long hours of the sun, giving them the rust color, or 'Rousse', for which they have been named. In July, the vineyard team pulls leaves away from the bunches, and they rotate the grapes 180 degrees to give an even tan. This extra sun does not lower acidity too much, due to the cold nights and limestone soils. These aspects come together to produce a wine of massive structure, with a broad, intense palate and high acidity, that nonetheless gives us beautiful citric character and lush white fruits. This is a white wine for pairing with heavier dishes like lobster, pork loin, or even a beef braise. Andrew Farquhar
Organically farmed and fermented with native yeasts, this is California Sauvignon Blanc for Sancerre drinkers: brisk and clear, with tangerine, lime blossom, and crisp pear on the nose; lean, light, and exceptionally acidic, with mouth-watering lemons, limes, green apple, salty minerals, and a hint of fresh green herbs. So refreshing! Ariana Rolich
This Chardonnay is sourced from the Coastview Vineyard, which must be one of the most extraordinary vineyards to see anywhere, at the top of a peak in the Gabilan Mountains, situated 2,400 feet above sea level, on a dirt track it took seven years to cut. From this height, the ocean is visible over the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west. Thin topsoil here overlays decomposed limestone and granite. Father-son vineyard managers John and Parker use a huge herd of sheep instead of machine mowers in this rugged terrain, and winemaker Alex Pomerantz uses this fruit to make an incredible Chardonnay that isn't quite like anything I've tasted. Whole cluster pressed before being put into neutral barrel to ferment and age for five months before being racked and put in tank for another five months. Lean and aromatically expressive, this is a very pure and pretty wine, not without richness, but more angular in structure, which should allow it to benefit from some time in the cellar. 12.5% alcohol by volume, and bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no sulfur added. 294 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
For Nathan Kandler, winemaker at Thomas Fogarty, Portola Springs is the most extreme of their Santa Cruz Chardonnay vineyards, with its very steep slopes and cool marine air influence. The Chardonnay grapes ripen very slowly and yields are frustratingly low. Portola Springs has a characteristic lemon drop and verbena with flavors of lemon oil, sea spray, and dried thyme. Pair with roasted cauilflower or chicken. Jonas Mendoza
The original vineyard planted by Mr. Wiemer himself, this wine is from a parcel farmed biodynamically. Cold spontaneous fermentation takes place over the course of months. 65% of the grapes picked two weeks late allow for this wine's beautiful mellow sweetness. 20% fermented in 1000L Hungarian barrels. This is an extraordinarily pretty wine, with delicate, expressive acidic structure laid over with a number of layers of beautiful fruit. Notes of peach, Meyer lemon, and white flowers all mesh together in harmonious accord. Pair with Peking duck, fresh fruit, or blue cheese. Andrew Farquhar