Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Return vist to our favourie NY wine merchant

Chambers Street Wines is our favourite New York wine merchant and is in line for the 2010/11 Slotovino wine merchant of the year award later this month unless something very extraordinary intervenes.

On this occasion we met Mr. Wolff as well as our original contact Mr. Lillie, his co-founder and business partner. They share a charming diffidence and scholarly demeanour, friendly, immensely erudite and ready to spend time on answering arcane questions. Complimenting them on their outstanding newsletter which we read regularly and avidly, we learned that it is the work of several hands. This is extraordinary because the style is uniform.

We had the pleasure of meeting their Jura expert, Sophie who was able to point us in the direction of several marvels. Mr. Lillie himself steered us to others, mainly French (his speciality) and we picked up a Beaujolais Nouveau (10.5%) by Doucroux.

Mr. Lillie had recommended Doucroux on our first visit as being an extreme example of a producer of Vin Naturel but had found his wines nowhere else. We also found the Nusserhof Blaterle (Trentino/Alto Adige) we had discovered on the Chambers St. Wines website.

Chris, the Spanish expert was not on hand but we picked up two rarities from that section, a Hondarrabi Beltza from Bizkaiko Txakolina (Biscay).

and a Negramoll from the Canary Islands).

We were presented with a field blend by a garagiste, Anne-Marie Lavaysse of the Petit Domaine de Gimios in Minervois called 'Rouge Fruit'.

Talking about field blends, Jura specialist Sophie pointed out one by Jean-Francois Ganevat called 'J'en veux' which consists of 17 grape varieties including the following;

Petit Beclas

Gros Beclas

Gueche white and red

Seyve Villard


Potugais Bleu



Poulsard Blanc

Poulsard Musque

Gouais Blanc

It is not known how M. Ganevat manages to ripen all these grapes simultaneously. Maybe he does so separately and then blends them later. Does this still constitute a field blend?
Mr. Lillie also mentioned a grape called Tibouren which Clos Citronne uses to make a Rose. Sophie tried her best to obtain this for our second visit two days later but without success. We couldn't resist a natural Orange wine made from Roussanne and Jacquere.

On that second visit we met Chris. We mentioned we had heard he was the Spanish Expert but he shrugged this off. Too modest. He knows all there is to know about Spanish wine and more. He bewailed the Franco years of neglect and the subesquent rush to bring in international varieties which he abhors. He taught us about all kinds of indiginous Spanish Grapes including

Albarin Blanco (Leon)
Puntxo Fort (Monsant)
Vildillo (Carinena)

We will look out for these.

Meanwhile we added a Bermejo Listan Negra (Canaries) which Chris stated authoritatively was the mysterious Mission or Criolla grape which the Jesuits had imported into the Americas to make the first wine there. Well, another enigma solved!

As we were paying for these marvels, Sophie hissed to Chris that we should get a discount to which Chris responded that there was already a discount applied. Goodness where it came from. We had certainly not requested it, welcome though it was. Could it be that anyone who expresses some enthusiasm for what Chambers St. Wines are doing gets one?

We can't recommend Chambers Street wines highly enough.

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