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The Tatsis brothers have been making natural wines (farming organically and biodynamically, fermenting exclusively with native yeasts, and employing no additives) since the 1990s, positioning them as among the very first natural winemakers Greece. They are based in Macedonia, near Goumenissa, and focus on the local varieties of Limnio, Xinomavro, and Roditis. Limnio is a grape with a long history in Greece that spread from the Aegean Islands to the mainland. Tatsis' Limnio is light-medium bodied, characterful, and refreshing with notes of cherry, ripe strawberry, and Mediterranean herbs on the nose, and a mineral and herbal palate with lots of red fruit character. Cari and I compared it to Loire Gamay or a lighter Cabernet Franc. A great spring wine. Ben Fletcher
This is a delightful little (500mL) bottle of skin-contact Retsina giving it an amber-peach color. The Greek island of Lemnos is rich with volcanic soil and a tradition of adding Aleppo pine resin to create the uniquely Greek wine; Retsina. This bottling is a blend of 90% Muscat of Alexandria and 10% Limnio which are macerated on the skins for a few days, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel, then infused with pine resin. Oftentimes Retsina can be a bit overpowering with the scent of pine, but the extended skin contact fleshes out the juicy necterine and grapefruit notes of the Muscat and balances out the resin to a softer note of fresh thyme and rosemary. The palate has gentle tannins like peach fuzz, and bright Meyer lemon and stone fruit. Michelle DeWyngaert
A wonderful wine from the Aegean island of Lemnos. A blend of 90% Muscat of Alexandria and 10% Limnio, from certified organic, non-irrigated vineyards. Only rare treatments of sulfur and copper occur. Planted between the years of 1972 and 2015 to volcanic soils with sparse limestone 150 meters above sea level. After being harvested by hand, the Muscat fruit macerates for 5 days on the skins. Natural fermentation begins before malo. Separately fermented Limnio is added before bottling. Compelling in color, the wine is a hybrid shade of orange and cherry. The nose is gorgeous, with grapefruit zest, lemon grass, black pepper and tart red berries. The palate also carries a tang of red citrus and cherry, along with a touch of spicy clove. Good acidity, and very, very light tannin. A real treat to drink. Honest, after writing this, I want a glass. David Hatzopoulos
A classic Kvevri wine from Republic of Georgia with fermentation and aging in large, underground earthenware amphora (kvevri) according to ancient tradition. Skin contact is for 3 months, and aging for 16 months total. A light amber hue in the glass, with plenty of herbs and notes of black tea and honey. A little taste of history!
Retsina is the ancient style of resinated white wine native to Greece. Wines have been flavored with the sap or resin of the Aleppo Pine for at least 2000 years, and the unique profile is (when well done) very friendly to the spiced seafood and other Mediterranean fare that forms the core of the Greek diet. I like to drink retsina with cured fish, with olives, or with Asian food. This retsina is the most impressive I've tasted, and very reasonable in price: the grapes (from young vines belonging to Kamara Estate near Thessaloniki) are vinified in stainless steel tanks with small bits of Aleppo Pine resin added to the must. The profile is clearly resinated (think of the aromas of pine sap and bark, rather than aggressive menthol notes) but the fresh character of bright Assyrtiko and Roditis grapes certainly comes through (typically, modern retsina is made with neutral, fleshier Savatiano - the use of Assyrtiko and Roditis makes this brighter, fresher, and more interesting to my palate). Retsina sometimes gets dismissed but I hope you'll try this as either a fun apéritif or a great pairing for well-flavored seafood, garlicky dips, or charcuterie. Ben Fletcher
This white blend from Naboso is Muller-Thurgau, Welschriesling, Gruner Veltliner and Red Slyvaner. Total SO2: 21mg/l
Oreads, named for the nymphs of the mountains, is the rosé wine of the nymph-named trio from Papras Bio Wines, made from Black Muscat of Tyrnavos, which has been planted in Tyrnavos (near Mt. Olympus) for more than one hundred years. Like the Pleiades and Naiads, the organically farmed grapes are fermented with indigenous yeasts, macerated on their skins for ten days, then bottled without fining or filtering and with only a small addition of sulfur (10mg). This year's Oreads is slightly darker in color than last year's, and shows beautiful pink flower, dried rose, and orange blossom aromatics. The palate is dry, crisp, and salty with lots of floral and citrus character: pansies, lilacs, the juice of blood oranges, salted pink grapefruit, and lemon zest. A great expression of this unique aromatic grape, and an instant reminder of spring time. Ben Fletcher
Siflogo is an organic wine project begun by Maria and Dionysis Papanikolopoulos on the picturesque island of Lefkada in the Ionian sea, off the west coast of mainland Greece. Here, ungrafted vines of indigenous grape varieties (Vertzami, Vardea, Mavropatrino) struggle on poor, very rocky, limestone soils. Keropatis, the name of this wine, is a local term for light red wines that are close to rosé in terms of body. Made from the dark, black grape Vertzami, this is a pretty, mineral and delicately fruity light red wine made with a short maceration and without the addition of sulfur. It shows notes of cranberry, candied sour cherry, and lots of limestone minerality. I've been drinking it with a slight chill - and it disappears very quickly! Ben Fletcher
Giannis Stilianou and his son tend 3 hectares of indigenous Cretan grapes near Heraklion, the capital of the dry, sun-beaten, Greek island of Crete. The Great Mother Red is a wine made with Mandilaria, an intensely dark and tannic grape native to the Aegean Isles. In order to produce a more lightly colored and delicate wine Giannis macerates the juice on the skins for only one day - yielding an aromatic and intensely flavored wine that is eminently drinkable. With aromatic notes of forest herbs, salt, and red fruit, the palate is bright, clean and fresh with red cherry and salted plum notes. This was great with lamb burgers. Ben Fletcher