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During my early days in the wine trade, I sold vast quantities of brand name Champagnes (we won't get specific). When tasting them, my usual reaction was a headache and the conclusion, with rare exceptions, that these were "bad wines with bubbles." Happily, those days are over and dozens of distinctive and delicious estate-bottled Champagnes are now available in New York. Few of them, however, have impressed me as being as honestly "vinous" as the wines of André Beaufort. Why this difference? First, organic farming since 1979 (not a recent conversion) producing living soils that transmit nutrients and micro-nutirents essential to the vine; wild yeast fermentations, both for the initial fermentation and the secondary fermentation in bottle as well, which contributes to the softer mousse; longer elevage before bottling - at least two years rather than the 10 months normal in Champagne; minimal or zero addition of SO2, depending on the vintage; disgorgement usually on demand after many years in the bottle - for example the 2002 Polisy Demi-Sec (a gorgeous wine) was disgorged in June of 2017. "We keep our wines sur-lie as long as possible before release, so one can taste a Champagne of ten years of age with mature aromas, having conserved some traits of youth - thus, disgorgement is always recent."
New in this shipment: the first release of the excellent 2010 Grand Cru Ambonnay Brut ($53.99): the lovely 2006 vintage wines from Ambonnay (81.99) and Polisy (57.99); the delicious 2002 Polisy Reserve Demi-Sec (76.99); and the rare 2006 Coteaux Champenois Rouge (53.99). Why not try them all?
Amaury Beaufort, with help from his brothers, is making superb natural wines in Tonnerre on steep hillsides with Kimmeridgian soils and unique clay topsoils near the village of Junay. (Northwest of the city of Tonnerre). We're proud to introduce two scintillating natural Chardonnays from Amaury, both from organic farming of course and made with zero added sulfur. The 2014 Bourgogne Tonnerre "Vaumorillon" and the 2015 "Côte de Junay" (both $26.99) are remarkably pure and crystalline white Burgundies at 11.5% alcohol, very much in the style of Alice and Olivier De Moor - we urge you to try them!
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort from the superb 2002 vintage - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical yet laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium-bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in Sept 2019 after 16+ years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines.
The 1998 Ambonnay Brut has long been a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brulée transition to notes of Jonagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! (Disgorged for this order in Jan, 2021)
Amaury Beaufort, with help from his brothers, is making superb natural wines in Tonnerre on steep hillsides with Kimmeridgian soils near the village of Junay. (Northwest of the city of Tonnerre) Vaumorillon is a hillside vineyard near Junay with white clay ("grise terre") over the limestone. Yields of 22 ha/ha, 11.5% alcohol. The wine shows very complex aromas of dried pear and apple, lemon peel, honey, pine, almond and stone - showing a bit more fruit than the 2015 Côte de Junay. The palate is lean but with dense pear, dried herbs, lemon oil and almond, finishing with intense mineral flavors and firm acidity. Serve with sushi, grilled fish, roast chicken, alpine cheeses. Long-term aging seems possible. For lovers of De Moor Chablis... David Lillie
Amaury Beaufort, with help from his brothers, is making superb natural wines in Tonnerre on steep hillsides with Kimmeridgian soils near the village of Junay. (Northwest of the city of Tonnerre) Cête de Junay is a steep parcel requiring all vineyard work by hand. Yields are about 15 hl/ha, at 11.5% in 2015. The wine shows delicate but complex aromas of lime-flower, dried white fruits, almond and stone with hints of chamomile and dried herbs. The palate is crystalline and bone dry with citrus, stone and dried pear - light, but with great density and length and finishing with stone, anise, pear and lemon peel over saline minerals. No added SO2. Congratualtions to the Beauforts for this unique and scintillating wine! Serve with oysters, sushi, fresh goat cheeses, grilled sole or cod.
Dusty wild blackberry fruit, wild strawberry, violets on the nose. Fine blend of hedge fruit and red fruits on the lighter mid weight palate. Bright acidity, good elemental sweetness with a hint on sous bois on a vibrant lingering, chalky finish.
The new Beaufort Polisy Reserve Brut Nature NV is from the 2014 vintage and was disgorged in November of 2017. (Organic farming since 1971, wild yeast fermentations, minimal SO2.) This lovely Champagne shows a pale gold/bronze color with aromas of brioche, pear, lime flower, apricot and vanilla with a bit of brown spice and anise. Full, soft mousse on the palate with creamy pear, citrus, stone and herbal flavors, with hints of raspberry and red currant emerging. A bit soft and ripe for a Brut Nature, at 12% alcohol, but well balanced with refreshing acidity in the finish. Serve with a ceviche of squid or scallop, fish in sauce, goat cheeses or perhaps with berry or citrus desserts. David Lillie
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse but persistent, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear, mineral and herbal notes, with a vibrant firm stony finish. Lovely now and should cellar beautifully. This lot was disgorged in February of 2017 - it's a beautiful, elegant young Champagne and is highly recommended. DL
For those of a classical bent who prefer not to shop at the big Champagne houses, André Beaufort is a wonderful alternative. Longtime organic farming and extended lees-aging produce rich wines of uncommon detail and complexity. The 2010 Ambonnay offers aromas of white flowers, orange peel, bergamot, and chalk on the nose. Bright acid, salted plum, citrus oil, and a fine line of sapid minerality on the supple and rich palate. This shows a fine interplay between power, tension, and a suave, supple finish. This is one heck of an Ambonnay and a fine bottle of Beaufort! (Disgorged in August 2020) John McIlwain
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..." (Current stock disgorged June, 2017)
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious..." Anonymous notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017 (Disgorged April, 2017)
Subtle aromas of white fruits and creamy lemon with hints of spice and herbs, the palate is round and ripe with pear, citrus, almond, spice, anise... The finish is long and creamy with complex spice and mineral notes. The mousse is soft and delicate as with most of the Beaufort wines. This is a great White Burgundy that's masquerading as Champagne. (Disgorged March 2017) DL
The 2006 Ambonnay Brut Grand Cru shows subtle mature aromas of pear, almond, marzipan and citrus, very earthy with hints of exotic fruit and spice and wet stone. Give this some time to open up. The palate shows a delicate, creamy mousse with complex earthy white fruits, herbal notes and mineral flavors with nice acidity in the finish. A lovely wine of contemplation. (Disgorged June 2017)
2002 is a "magnificent vintage for Champagne" says Jancis Robinson and the 2002 Beaufort Policy Demi-Sec is a beautiful example. The aromas are a lovely mélange of honeyed citrus, pear and exotic fruits and floral notes with chalk, caramel and anise. The palate is a treat of sweet white fruits and citrus backed by earth and stone flavors with just enough acidity. The finish has a nice mineral balance and terrific length. Superb now, this will be very interesting in ten years or more, as after seventeen years on the lees it seems youthful and firm. David Lillie
Tasted in January 2017 at the estate. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length. A great vintage in Champagne yielding firmly structured wines for long-term cellaring. We'd love to re-taste this wine but it keeps selling out before we can get to it! (Disgorged for this order in January 2021 after 24+ years on the lees).
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “The aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...") (new inventory disgorged June 2017)