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*Offsite events are contracted to and coordinated by a 3rd party, and are in no way affiliated with Chambers Street Wines.
Even before the current situation, for the past half a year I have been extensively cooking at home. I've never been a good cook, and though I wouldn't profess to be one now, the improvements I've made in these past few months are the source of a personal pride, my own little victories. What I feel to be a wholesome and heartfelt affair, the joy I gather from making a meal for my friends and loved ones is becoming an irreplaceable source of solace. Over time my cooking projects have gotten more ambitious. Making pasta by hand is a skill I'm yet to trully perfect (only occasionally getting the consistency in the dough that I'm looking for), though it's not for lack of trying. My sauces now take hours to make, in fact the longer, the more seductive the idea. A case in point was a recent obsession with La Genovese, a historic ragù from Campania that predates the arrival of tomatoes in Italy, the umami flavor instead being built by the deconstruction of beef and about five pounds of onions over the course of 12 hours. Those two simple ingredients, with the addition of time, created a quite transcendental dish.
My determination for long cooking projects found its apex a few weekends ago in the making of a Timpano, that glorious and fantastical creation from one of my favorite food movies, Big Night. Essentially a crazy casserole, it turned out to be so much more. Instead of trying to illustrate with my feeble words, below is a small photo essay:
The two wines on offer are only loosely related to the story of the Timpano; I didn't pair either with the dish, though the Fornacina was wonderful with the leftovers. They just seem like really great pasta and sauce wines, in whatever flavor combinations you choose. Both food-friendly, both versatile, of our recent arrivals for the Italian section these two have stood out as both fantastic values, and engaging and honest wines in their own right. Oskar Kostecki
Vittorio Savino, owner of Fenicotteri, joined Foti’s small association of producers called i Vigneri (some of whose wines from Mt. Etna we always have on our shelves). I Vigneri offers unparalleled expertise in every aspect of viticulture and production (including the services of Ciccio, the group’s mule). Foti’s work at Gulfi, and his knowledge derived from the vines in Pachino must have been very valuable when trying to restore a vineyard that’s virtually on the shore of the lagoon. The farming is impeccable (only copper and sulfur and sheep manure are used on the bush-trained vines) but it’s the location that brings an incredibly compelling mineral and saline lift to the wine. Called Fenicotteri (flamingo, in Italian) after the migratory flamingoes who visit the lagoon next to the vineyard. JW Firmly medium-bodied, the 2015 shows beautiful notes of black cherry, blackberries, black currant, raspberry jam, a hint of leather, cut hay, cocoa, coffee grinds, with hints of black pepper and a black olive brininess. Well integrated and soft, but quite present tannins and medium acidity. Wonderful complexity which just keeps unfolding the longer the wine is open. There is a certain plushness, without anything extravagant. This wine is very compelling all the way through the bottle. Oskar Kostecki
Making some of our favorite Brunello wines, Simone and Mauro Biliorsi farm six hectares of vines just outside of the historic town of Montalcino. The vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2004, and the conscientious work in the vines is mirrored in the traditional winemaking: fermentation using only indigenous yeasts, and the wine is raised in large Slovenian oak barrels with a volume between 20 and 35 hectoliters. In the 2017 vintage, the Biliorsi brothers made no Brunello di Montalcino, feeling the quality just wasn't there. All the grapes, including the oldest vines of the estate, went into the regular Rosso bottling. Upon tasting this wine at VinItaly 2019, we agreed we had to secure as much as possible. Though showing a bit of the aggressive character of this warm vintage, a quick decant softens it considerably, and draws out a deep and alluring wine that is both bold and refined, drinking very well now, but also with all the stuffing to age for a decade plus. The nose shows a wonderful combination of fruit and earth, with notes of cherry, black cherry, dried cherry, deep ripe raspberry, orange zest, bergamot, a hint of undergrowth, cherry leaves and a bit of black tea leaves. The palate is generous, with a full, rounded body, medium-plus tannins and good acidity, with notes of ripe fruit, an herbal component, as well as hints of baking spice, nutmeg, and a touch of vanilla. Pair with anything from red sauce dishes to braised meat, and don't hesitate to stock up and enjoy this wine years from now. Oskar Kostecki