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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 2018 Jasnières Sec and Coteaux du Loir "Orée de la Berterie" are beautiful wines - they show the ripeness of this great vintage in the Loire but remain dry with suberb balance and fantastic mineral flavors and firm acidity. The 2017 "Clos des Molieres" is from one of the best vineyards in Jasnières - scintillating and complex, it will age beautifully. Sébastien makes beautiful reds as well; "La Belle d'Aunis" from 100% Pineau d'Aunis and "Guinguette" from Pineau d'Aunis and Gamay. Both are superb in 2018 - vibrant and refreshing light-bodied reds that are perfect accompaniments to pork and chicken dishes and mild-flavored cheeses.
As elections, tariffs and various disaters, man-made and natural, are heading our way in 2020, it's time to appreciate some small things like the arrival of the delicious 2018 Bourgueil "Domaine" from our friend Stéphane Guion! From 15 to 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils in organic agriculture since 1965, this is always one of the best values in the store and the 2018 happily rivals the 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 vintages for absolute awesomeness, even at the Trump Tariff price of $15.49! Beautiful red/black color. Lovely deep pure red currant and blackberry aromas with violets, pepper, earth, bitter chocolate, licorice and leafy notes. The palate is round and supple with deep berry fruits framed in firm chalky acids, earth flavors, cocoa and saline minerals. Terrific length - this is just a superb young Bourgueil! At 13% alcohol it's beautifully structured and delicious to drink now, and will be even better in 5 to 8 years. (And please check out our "pre-tariff" inventory from Stéphane - including his vibrant 2018 Rosé that will be drinking beautifully next spring and summer. Thanks to the Guion family for two generations of organic farming and great wines at modest prices! (Beware - our next shipment may be hit with the proposed 100% tariffs...)
From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2014 is a particularly good vintage for Loire reds to age. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
This is a beautiful Chenin Blanc from Sébastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue, from 30-year-old vines on slopes and terraces of clay and silex over limestone, certified organic farming with biodynamic methods. The 2018 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - honeyed pear, peach and kiwi with almond, floral and mineral notes, elegant and pure. Dried pear, citrus peel, almond, stone and herbal notes on the round and ripe palate with terrific density and a long, quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is an outstanding young Chenin that will open up over the next five to ten years, and it's a superb value as well. Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. DL
100% Chenin Blanc, from 15 to 30 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; élevage in 6 year-old barrels. The Roche Bleue 2018 Jasnières shows a pale bronze color with ripe aromas of pear, quince, almond, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate shows more fruit than the 2017, quite round and ripe, revealing almond, pear, stone, lemon and chalky minerals that continue in the long, very mineral finish. This is a young, complex Jasnières from a beautiful vintage that will benefit from decanting and should age well for ten to fifteen years. Serve now with shellfish, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
From 25 to 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 2017 Jasnières "Clos des Molières" is a beautiful dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, dried herbs, almond, citrus and white pepper. The palate is dense but crystalline and somewhat austere - intensely mineral with white fruits, 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 fifteen years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
The talented Sébastien Cornille is making some of the most beautiful wines in Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir - The 2018 "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 wine shows a bright red/garnet color with elegant aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose petal with white pepper and earth. The palate shows chalky, sappy raspberry and tart cherry fruit, light but dense, elegant and long with earthy acidity lingering in the finish. Refreshing and delicious now, this should be quite interesting after three to five years in the cellar. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Sébastien Cornille's lovely 2018 "Guinguette" is made from a blend of 70% Pineau d’Aunis, 20% Gamay and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+year-old vines in biodynamic farming. It undergoes semi-carbonic maceration for 20 days in tank before the Pineau d’Aunis is pressed off to be aged in neutral barrique and the Gamay in tank. The 2018 Guinguette is a superb "vin de soif" offering bright aromas of peppery raspberry, cherry and violets, a bit riper than the 2017. The palate shows light but sappy raspberry, plum and red currant fruit with chalky minerals, spice and citrus. The finish is long and refreshing. Serve this lovely wine slightly chilled with charcuterie, of course, grilled pork and lamb, bluefish (?) and mild cow cheeses. David Lillie
From 15 to 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils in Bourgueil, in organic agriculture since 1965. This is always one of the best values in the store and the 2018 happily rivals the 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 vintages for absolute awesomeness, even at the Trump Tariff price of $15.49! Beautiful red/black color. Lovely deep pure red currant and blackberry aromas with violets, pepper, earth, bitter chocolate, licorice and leafy notes. The palate is round and supple with deep berry fruits framed in firm chalky acids, earth flavors, cocoa and saline minerals. Terrific length - this is just a superb young Bourgueil! At 13% alcohol it's beautifully structured and delicious to drink now, and will be even better in 5 to 10 years. Thanks to the Guion family for two generations of organic farming and great wines at modest prices! Serve cool with chicken, pork, charcuterie and full-flavored fish dishes as well...
2016 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 50 to 70 years old on classic soils of clay over limestone. 2016 was a very difficult vintage in the Loire Valley with many growers suffering huge loses to frost on the 27th of April, followed by periods of intense mildew attacks until early July that further lowered yields. Weather in the summer and fall, however, was near perfect with dry sunny conditions prevailing and just the right amount of rain in September. Comparisons can be made to the 2002 and 2010 vintages. The 2016 Guion Prestige shows wonderful brightness and balance with lovely high-toned aromas of strawberry compote with floral, herbal and musky notes, with hints of roast coffee and bitter chocolate. There is intense material on the palate which is elegant and ripe with fine tannins, with bright strawberry and cherry fruits encased in brisk, very earthy acids. A brilliant wine that needs five years or more in the cellar, peak drinking perhaps 2023 to 2040. If drinking now decant well in advance or open/taste/re-cork two or three days beforehand. 1989 and 1990 tasted recently at the domaine were fantastic — given the low price, this is one of the world's great values to cellar. Thank you, Stéphane!
Wine arrives 8/25 (Tasted in August 2021, this beautiful wine has softened considerably and is showing lovely berry fruits - peak drinking summer of 2021 and beyond.) The 2018 Bourgueils of Stéphane Guion, tasted in early February 2019, are just extraordinary, with an extra layer of vibrant fruit, beginning with this gorgeous rosé. 50 years of organic farming and great traditional winemaking give this refreshing wine its perfect balance with beautiful fruit and great earthy expression of the gravel and limestone/clay terroir. The wine shows lush strawberry/raspberry aromas with citrus, rose and earth. Raspberry, blood orange, melon and earthy flavors on the ripe but dry palate which is framed in firm acidity and saline minerals. This is a real rosé of terroir, and for lovers of Cabernet Franc it's one of the greatest values around - drinking beautifully now and through 2020, with burgers, roast chicken, grilled pork and charcuterie. David Lillie