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For us Barolo geeks, it’s interesting to note that Castellero is geographically related to the much more famous Cannubi vineyard which is just west of Castellero, across a little stream and its valley. Cannubi is on two sides of a ridge, with the best parts facing west and a bit north; all of Castellero faces west. The hill of Castellero is deceptive – until you start walking up, you don’t realize that it’s really very steep. The soils are white limestone, dusty when dry and glue-like when wet, but actually well drained and perfectly composed for growing Nebbiolo. Brezza makes Castellero, but Barale is the benchmark, and Castellero is their most important vineyard; it’s great that they are now farming organically, and the vineyard is more beautiful than ever. I wouldn’t have the nerve to suggest that Castellero has ever produced wines as profound as the best Cannubi, but the Barale’s are certainly making higher quality wine than a number of the owners of Cannubi. The Barale’s are steadfast traditional winemakers, using very long fermentations and aging in used, giant wood barrels. Their wines are not flashy, but are refined and elegant, and they age forever. Like all proper Barolo, the Castellero is a tannic and high-acid wine, and no one in Piedmont (or anywhere else in Italy) would dream of drinking it without food. You will, we hope, at least have some cheese on hand, but the wine wants to be consumed at table with something equally special.
One of the standouts of the fabulous Brovia 2013s is the Barolo; that is, the Barolo Classico; the ‘straight’ Barolo; the Barolo Normale (a term that producers don’t care for). In the classic manner, Brovia’s Barolo is a blend of 5 sites, each of which brings its character and thus complexity to what is a particularly good bottle of wine. The development of single-vineyard bottlings in Piedmont has been hugely important for our appreciation and understanding of the individual vineyards, but we sometimes miss out because we are distracted by their prestige, while there are blended wines that are every bit as good – and in the case of this wine – better than most other producers top wines. This one is very fine, with great lift, lovely subtle fruit, and ripe tannins. It’s medium to full-bodied and showing quite rich; like the other 2013s it’s a wine for the cellar. Jamie Wolff
Paiagallo 2014 shows a lot of complexity for such a young wine - at first very savory and ripe, then lovely bright cherry fruit on the palate and finish.This is clearly a wine for the cellar, as behind (or perhaps under?) the beautiful clarity of fruit is that brooding core of material that will take years to fully express itself. Quite a majestic wine, and a triumph for the vintage. Jamie Wolff
A beauty, and a sign of the good things to come from 2016 in Piedmont. Canonica told us that the Nebbiolo is his only 2016 that had finished malolactic... Jamie Wolff
"Name utilized up through the 2001 vintage by the Ceretto winery for a single-vineyard Barolo produced from the grapes of the Gabutti MGA. It refers to a parcel situated in the highest part of the cru, bordering on Parafada. The grapes are currently used in the blend of the regular Barolo of the house." (from "Barolo MGA" by Alessandro Masnaghetti)
A consistently excellent wine — we've been lucky to get to taste this several times in the last few years. It needs a lot of time to breathe, and then it provides a classic example of fully mature Nebbiolo. Jamie Wolff
Enrico VI is Cordero's name for a small parcel of old vines in Villero. It's a grand wine, worthy of its royal name.
The 1970 Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta from one of the my favorite Piedmont producers is showing beautifully with a compelling blend of earthy old Nebbiolo aromas, resolved tannins, and still lively fruit. The tension between the sweet and savory on the nose is beguiling, while the palate has evolved to the point where the fruit and earthy flavors are supported by the structure, rather than dominated by it. Given time to blossom (we strongly advocate double decanting after lunch for dinner service) this is the perfect partner for braised meat with polenta or risotto with truffles. This is a lovely wine and a truly special treat for lovers of aged Nebbiolo. (Tasted 2/25/16) John McIlwain
Allowing for the fact that wine is a very subjective experience, I like to think that I call it as I see it. So I believe I’d know if it was a disaster, but otherwise I’m irrational and unreliable on the subject of G. Rinaldi. When I’m there, I wander around in a kind of stupor of infatuation with the wines. My penetrating notes (for 2013 Tre Tine, for example) say things like “super-great” [full stop]. I suppose if I have to have a wine crush, it might as well be on one of the best wineries in the world. Jamie WolffPS: Please don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t make the prices (neither, so far as I can tell, do the Rinaldis, because the wines leave the cellar at very reasonable prices). We’re well into the world of luxury goods here, and all I can do is sigh and make puppy dog eyes at the bottles while they’re in the shop. I do think it’s an objective fact that these are great wines and even if it’s a gratuitous comparison, they are the superior of many far more expensive wines.
Brachetto has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. The wine is usually made in the same style of Moscato d’Asti -- the fermentation is stopped when alcohol is still quite low and some of the CO2 is captured to create a slightly sparkling, sweet wine. Farmed strictly organically, the fermentation is arrested with filtration rather than large doses of sulfur (as is common for sweet Brachetto) to limit overall additions to the wine. The wine has opulent strawberry fruit and red flowers on the nose with a lively sparkle and creamy texture braced by bright acid and plenty of sweetness; it is a truly carefree wine that is a joy to drink. Try it this spring as a natural pairing for rhubarb pie, with strawberry shortcake, as a sweet pairing for prosciutto and melon, or as a dessert in and of itself. Andy Paynter
Last May we tried a ton of Dolcetto in the company of two distinguished tasters who kept saying they didn’t like Dolcetto, which tends to put a damper on the experience. Sandri’s, however, made them sit up and take notice, so I give them credit for staying alert and flexible enough to change their minds. It’s bracingly juicy with wild brambly fruit that’s balanced with savoury herbs and chalky stone. Medium-bodied, very lively and lifted, it’s long and complete. I happen to like Dolcetto, but if they were all half as good as this one I might say I love it. Jamie Wolff