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Napa winemaker George Vare fell in love with Ribolla Gialla on a trip through Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the early 90's. He took cuttings from Josko Gravner's vineyard and planted the first Ribolla Gialla in North America in 1999, in Napa's Oak Knoll District. This wine was whole-cluster pressed, spontaneously fermented, and aged for 8 months in neutral oak. Only 8 barrels were made of what I believe to be Arnot-Roberts's smallest production wine. Elegant and ethereal, with fine slightly-floral, slightly-oily minerality and a delicate underbrush character, this wine is fantastic after a brief decant, but will improve for up to ten years in the bottle. Serve with a simple Italian pasta with slivered almonds, apricots, and garlic tossed in olive oil with Parmesan. Andrew Farquhar
Kate Norris and Tom Monroe of Division sourced this year's Chardonnay from a blend of several vineyards in the Willamette Valley including two biodynamic, dry-farmed sites (Cooper Mountain Hill and Johan Vineyards). The wine expresses the warmth the 2015 vintage, with rich lemon curd, ripe peach, and tropical fruit flavors, woven through with lemony acidity. Jonas Mendoza
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
Petit Manseng is an obscure grape that hails from Jurançon in Gascony in France's deep southwest. Best known for producing sweet wines from this tiny region, there is a growing consensus that it is capable of producing fantastic dry white wines as well. When I first was tasting with Early Mountain and they said they had a Petit Manseng, I thought that was very strange, but they said in no uncertain terms they believe it to be the future of wine in Virginia. Why is this? Petit Manseng makes wines of fantastic acidity in the warmest, humid region in France. Petit Manseng's thick skins make it resistant to rot and fungus, and allow it to thrive in Virginia. A match made in heaven, this is a beautiful, elegant, well-structured, refreshing white, with zippy acidity and beautiful aromas of ripe peach and apricot. Enjoy as an apéritif, with fried chicken & biscuits, or Virginia country ham. Andrew Farquhar
In addition to perfectly elegant, age-worthy reds, Steve Edmunds produces one of California's lightest, purest white wines from Vermentino and Grenache Blanc. Heart of Gold exudes fresh white florals, mineral water, and tingly orchard fruit aromas; flavors are bright and defined, graceful and deeply mineral, with gentle rays of citrus pith and crisp pear, golden apple, and yellow peach. Acidity is abundant and well-integated. AR
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 Chardonnay, sourced from a couple different single-vineyard sites in the area, is meant to encapsulate the style of these Central Coast uplands, and does so with aplomb. Santa Cruz Chardonnay always presents a touch more minerality, with less overt fruit and less weight; more lemon pith than Meyer lemon. This is no exception. With a fantastic, clear line of mouthwatering acidity sewn through the palate and lasting through a long a pleasant finish, this is cooler climate, foggy California Chardonnay at its best. The separate parcels were co-fermented in concrete egg, and left sur lie during malolactic fermentation with elevage in concrete for 19 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Andrew Farquhar
The 2017 Sauvignon Blanc is primarily from one small parcel in Contra Costa County. Laura wanted to lend a bit more material to the wine so she did a staggered pick in a neighboring vineyard to supplement. Her goal was to find a style for Sauvignon Blanc that was not overtly tropical or citrusy. We think she did a great job! It's balanced, textured, and fresh. Drink with a chill, but perhaps not too cold, as there's nice weight to this Sauvignon Blanc that may be missed at ice cold temps. Eben Lillie
The 2017 Honeymoon is a blend of 65% Colombard and 35% Roussanne both fermented in used French oak barrels. The Colombard is sourced from the Ricetti vineyard in Mendocino, dry-farmed and certified organic, situated in the Redwood Valley AVA. The Roussanne is sourced from Contra Costa County, and is in the middle of the three year process of organic certification. This wine has a nice blend of racy qualities marked by a richness from eleven months of lees aging. A rich flaxen color in the glass, the nose has notes of melon, wool, and a touch of honey. Redolent of Chenin Blanc but a little more overtly ripe. This wine feels juicy and fleshy, which is in contradistinction to its being only 11.5% abv! 252 cases produced. Andrew Farquhar
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
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
J. Lohr fans will adore this barrel fermented Chardonnay from Lodi's historic Peirano Estate. The grapes are hand-harvested in two phases - once in August for acidity and again a month later for ripeness and full-fruited flavor. Notes of creamy lemon, ripe apricot, sweet pineapple, rich vanilla, and creme brulee combine with bright acidity for an oaky but balanced California Chardonnay. Think of this as an upgrade from J. Lohr at the same price! AR
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
Precedent is the personal project of Nathan Kandler, winemaker at the excellent Thomas Fogarty estate in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If you've never had California Chenin Blanc or you're never been thrilled by one, Precedent is a pure rendition of the grape from 30+ year-old vines planted on pink granite and silica-rich quartz soils in eastern Lodi. Ripe and pretty aromas of lemon, honeycomb, and white flowers, followed by brisk flavors of citrus and white peach, with fresh acidity and salty minerals. Unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur additions. Ariana Rolich
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
This fantastic Chardonnay is from the Freedom Hill vineyard located in the foothills of the coastal range 10 miles southwest of Salem. The soil here is well-drained silty clay loam. Whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented, this wine was aged sur lie for 11 months in neutral oak before bottling. Broad and magisterial, but with great energy, this is a beautiful Chardonnay, with peach aromas and a touch of more tropical character. The sur lie aging gives it a marvelous roundness on the palate that sublimates the brighter fruit character into something lush and restrained. The retention of such energy in this wine makes it a great Chardonnay for summer, and would pair well with cold summer soups, fish, or bruschetta. While it's drinking marvelously now, this wine will improve for up to half a decade if cellared. 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
Portola Springs Vineyard is a consistent standout in the excellent range of Thomas Fogarty Chardonnays. 2012 has riper, sunnier fruit tone than the austere 2011, without sacrificing any of Portola Springs' cool mineral core and impressive, driving acidity, owing to the low-yielding, late-ripening, nearly 40-year-old vines planted on basalt and shale. Complex and rich enough to handle poultry and pork dishes, with refreshing energy to compliment seafood and veggies. Ariana Rolich
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
This is the estate's flagship wine, and perhaps the type species for Finger Lakes Riesling as a whole. All estate fruit from vineyards that have had no herbicides since 2004; spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel takes place over the course of 7+ months. Slightly off-dry, with notes of spring blossoms, a little citrus character, almost a hint of lime. Beautifully structured and with a kind of roundness that is very satisfying. A classic New York Riesling, slightly fuller-bodied than a Mosel Riesling, but still with loads of acidity and just a touch of sweetness make this an easily quaffable wine that pairs with a wide range of foods such as bratwurst, oysters, or mango salsa. Andrew Farquhar