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After starting to oversee the winemaking in 2006, Markus Altenburger took over the family winery fully in 2012, and has expanded to 30 parcels totaling around 14-odd hectares (currently in the third year of organic conversion). His parents had mostly made white wines with some attention given to international red varieties. Markus shifted the main focus to Blaufränkisch, a grape far more suited to the climate and soils found around the town of Jois and the Leithaberg DAC. Work in the cellar is with native yeasts, élevage is mostly in old wood or cement, with no additions save a judicious amount of sulfur at bottling. Gritschenberg is a southeast-facing parcel on the Leithaberg, planted to Blaufränkisch by Markus' grandfather in the late '60s. The vineyard is rife with the famous 'Leithakalk' or shell limestone, on which the old-vine Blaufränkisch manifests smaller berries, looser bunches, and lends a mineral elegance to the wines. Grapes are hand-harvested, ferment in cask, and the wine ages for two years in 500L used oak barrels. The concentration of plum and raspberry fruit that could have gone too lush and soft in a ripe vintage like 2015 is deftly cut with savory black licorice and salty herbs and earthy structure. Bravo, Markus! Cari Bernard
Hollerin has fairly large terraces, with loam and Gföhler gneiss soil. Sometimes thought to be the softer counterpart to nearby Höhereck, this vintage the Hollerin really shines! Sweet mint and ginger on the nose, the palate is zippy and bracing with a mélange of stone fruit and citrus: ripe peach, nectarine, orange and tangerine juice, tart kumquat zest—mouthwatering! Cari Bernard
This is the final vintage you will see this bottle with Rosengartel on the label, due to red-tape and regulations; but let's not forget about this legendary vineyard, where Jutta farms eight rows of vines down the south-facing flank of the Nußberg, on shell limestone soils. Jutta was initially offered four rows from a female winemaker who was close to retirement in 2006. Thinking it was just conversation, Jutta was surprised to receive a phone call the following year from the same winemaker, saying it was time for Jutta to take the parcel. Since then they've been able to add the neighboring four rows to their plot. Jutta maintains that this beautiful vineyard needs ample time before bottling, and the wine remains in stainless steel tank until well into the following fall. White florals, jasmine blossoms on the nose, green mango, nectarine pit, dried herbs, white cherry, green apple all flood the palate, the wine has fantastic density while remaining luminous! Cari Bernard
Matthias Hager has been making wine on 13 hectares around the village of Mollands in the Kamptal for about 15 years, started converting his vines to biodynamics in 2005, and has been Demeter certified Biodynamic since 2008. He doesn't like to categorize his wines as just white or red, he has separated his wines into 'blue' and 'brown' collections. The 'blue' line of wines are fresh, bright, and fruity, to be enjoyed within the first four years after bottling. The 'brown' line of wines are more suited to be held onto, layered and serious. Seeberg is a south-facing vineyard in the Kamptal (west of Zöbing), with warmer days followed by a cooling influence from the forest to the north, soils here are a mix of sand, clay, and slate. Harvest is by hand, grapes ferment spontaneously and the wine ages in old oak barrels. Concentrated and dense palate with notes of Fuji apple, nectarine, mango, beeswax, honeysuckle, and apricot; effusive and bright, lovely ripe fruit balanced by acidity, this Grüner drinks almost like a Riesling! Incredibly enjoyable now, this wine has the stuffing to last at least 5-10 years in your cellar. Cari Bernard
It's hard to imagine a better deal than this full liter of organic Grüner, perennially one of our favorites. Stony, dry, bright, and lifted with notes of citrus oil, nectarine skin, and a touch of saline minerality on the finish. CB
Graupert means something akin to 'unkempt', and is in reference to the vines used for this bottling, as they have not been pruned for at least ten years. Walking along the vines you see the energy and chaos in the plants, with multiple settings of fruit and shoots weaving through and dangling over the training wires. This choice to leave the plant alone has made the resulting Zweigelt grapes quite different physiologically: with smaller berries and thicker skins. This makes for a more structured and a savory wine, bold with grippy tannins, raspberry seeds, strawberries, tart red and black plums. Pair with goulash, aged cheeses. Cari Bernard
Am Berg is back! Younger vines grown on loess soils closer to the village of Feuersbrunn. A fantastic entry-level Grüner, fresh and fruity, but not at all flabby; creamy but with a saline cut; with waves of white flowers, young ginger, lemon zest, mango and apricot. Cari Bernard
Twenty-five year old vines on loess soils grown on the rim of the valley in the Wagram. Of Bernhard Ott's Grand Cru vineyards, Spiegel is a perennial favorite.
A Smaragd in everything but name, this is Prager at its most ornate and heady -- going into the stylistic realm of some of his neighbors, especially FX Pichler or Hirtzberger. Fear not though, as rather than translate all that ripeness into an unwieldy amount of alcohol, Toni Bodenstein opted to stop fermentation before it was totally complete, leading to a perfectly balanced wine they would call "Feinherb" across the border in Germany. Bodenstein likens it to the 1990 Klaus, which is no faint praise, to be sure. Built to last in the cellar for many, many years. -jfr Totally in agreement with John, this 'lieblich' bottling is truly unique and is aging well. Opened last month (12/2018) with friends and Chinese food, it did not disappoint. Although darker in color than expected, the wine is fascinatingly opulent, layered, balanced, and has settled in nicely. Highly recommended. Cari Bernard
A Smaragd in everything but name, this is Prager at its most ornate and heady -- going into the stylistic realm of some of his neighbors, especially FX Pichler or Hirtzberger. Fear not though, as rather than translate all that ripeness into an unwieldy amount of alcohol, Toni Bodenstein opted to stop fermentation before it was totally complete, leading to a perfectly balanced wine they would call "Feinherb" across the border in Germany. Bodenstein likens it to the 1990 Klaus, which is no faint praise, to be sure. Built to last in the cellar for many, many years. -jfr
Totally in agreement with John, this 'lieblich' bottling is truly unique and is aging well. Opened last month (12/2018) with friends and Chinese food, it did not disappoint. Although darker in color than expected, the wine is fascinatingly opulent, layered, balanced, and has settled in nicely. Highly recommended. Cari Bernard
Pale pink in the glass, the nose hints at a stony minerality confirmed on the palate. This blend of Zweigelt, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir is crisp with scintillating acidity and flavors of fresh green and red strawberries, Seville orange, white raspberries, white stone, and lemon juice. A touch more giving than the 2016 vintage, and still incredibly brisk! Cari Bernard
The Stadlmann family has been making wine since the 1780s in the Thermenregion; sheltered from the northern winds by the Vienna Woods, it is one of Austria's warmest wine growing areas. The 'Classic' line of wines are aged in large, used barrels to showcase the true character of the grape and terroir. 2016 is beautifully balanced and fresh, the palate is smooth and juicy with bright flavors of ripe strawberries, tangy raspberries, tart yet candied red cherries wrapped in a cloak of savory spice. A wonderful wine to have with a wide range of food! Cari Bernard
Karl Schnabel worked in Burgundy briefly in the late nineties, and it's no surprise that his love for Pinot Noir and the region was brought back home with him to Austria. The Schnabel family chose to buck the tradition of the region and focus on red varieties instead on the more commonly-planted Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller, et al. As with all wines at the estate, the quality is developed in the vineyard through biodynamic treatments and grueling manual upkeep. Once the grapes make it to the cellar, they spontaneously ferment in cask with manual pigéage and the wine is transferred by bucket into neutral Burgundy barrels, to age until being bottled without fining, filtration, or sulfur. New roses, candied cherry blossoms, red cherries, orange zest, pine shavings come forth on the nose. Flavors of red currants, strawberries, sage, hibiscus tea, tart cherry compote expand, vibrate, and sustain on the palate with freshness and verve. This would be delightful paired with all sorts of cheeses from triple crème, to washed rind, to Alpine. Cari Bernard
Rotburger is the original name for Zweigelt. One of Karl and Eva Schnabel’s three vineyards, the Kreuzegg vineyard is also on the Sausal mountain, home to slate soils with silex. As is true with all of the Schnabel red wines, natural fermentation occurs in open tank, with hand-pigéage; the wine is then scooped via bucket into used Burgundy barrels where it ages on the lees until being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no sulfur. Deep, dark magenta in color, darker than expected. Scents of ripe purple plums, stewed strawberries, carrot peelings, and just a hint of savory soy sauce, the wine is medium-bodied, juicy and mouthcoating with flavors of blueberries, blackberries, black raspberries, plums, and only the faintest whisper of tannins on the finish. May need another month or so to really knit together, but we look forward to where this wine is heading. (2/2019) Cari Bernard
A blend of Rotburger (Zweigelt), Blaufränkisch, and Pinot Noir, the Sausal bottling is an easy-going, lighter-bodied red, sourced from all three vineyards on the Sausal mountain. Mineral freshness and high flying acidity to make your mouth water as a bounty of juicy and ripe wild strawberries, cranberries, raspberries ruby red grapefruit, and tart cherries wash over your palate layered with savory notes of red florals, pollen, and pink peppercorn. No fining, no filtration, no sulfur added. Serve after ten minutes in the fridge and enjoy with friends and loved ones! Cari Bernard
30+ year-old Sauvignon Blanc grown on limestone and sandstone, with semi-carbonic fermentation in qvevri and aged for 16 months in a mix of oak and acacia barrels, unfined, unfiltered, no sulfur added. The pyrazines add a level of complexity that plays beautifully off the texture, bright acidity, and fruit. Green notes on the nose mingle with aromas of ripe stonefruit; the palate is rife with piquant flavors of quince, peach fuzz, freshly-cut herbs, pineapple rind and gooseberry on the elegant, persistent finish. Cari Bernard