Welcome to the latest installment of the Streetcar Monthly Pass. If you’ve already purchased a pass, thank you! If you haven’t, you should check out this page to learn how it works. Below you’ll find some information about each of this month’s six Monthly Pass selections. If you bought a 2 or 4 bottle package and one of the wines you didn’t get piques your curiosity, we have all six in stock. Unfortunately, we can’t swap out one wine for another, since they aren’t all equal in value. On to the wines!
appellation: Sicilia, Italy
grape variety: catarratto extra lucido
Valdibella was started by a small community of wine, olive, and almond farmers as a social experiment. They are one of the first members of the Addiopizzo organization, whose main goal is to reestablish the dignity of small businesses of Sicily by refusing to pay racket to the island’s ubiquitous mafia. To put this into perspective, somewhere close to 80% of Sicily’s commercial enterprises pay the pizzo. Further, the father of one the growers at Valdibella, a doctor with strong community ties, was executed by the a member of the Mafia. Companies like Valdibella demonstrate immense courage by committing to this movement, at great personal risk for all those involved. All this said, the organic wines produced by Valdibella represent some of the best values from anywhere these days. Isolano is a selection of a lighter-skinned variant of catarrato, easily recognizable in the vineyard as they seem to glow in the sunlight. It’s great on its own as an apéritif, or try it with mezze or garlicky shellfish.
appellation: Carnuntum, Austria
grape varieties: zweigelt, blaufränkisch, cabernet sauvignon
Markowitsch is a top red wine producer in Carnuntum, a former Roman encampment that sits halfway between Vienna and Bratislava (Slovakia). The climactic conditions here favor the production of red grapes, especially zweigelt. A tiny amount of rosé enters our commonwealth each year, and unfortunately, the distributor lost track of last year’s allocation until just a few weeks ago. We love the opportunity to try sturdier rosés like this one with some time in the bottle, as it seems to give the wine more semblance to its varietal origins.
appellation: Alicante, Spain
grape varieties: monastrell
Rafa Bernabé is a well-known winegrower in Alicante, who over the last few years has become enamored with ancestral winemaking practices. Currently Rafa works with indigenous grape varieties and primarily old bush vines. He farms these vineyards organically, and the winemaking process is carried out with very little intervention. Vinification happens with little to no sulfur added, and fermentation is always with wild yeasts. ‘Tragolargo’ means “long drink”, and is a pure and lively wine to chill down for parties. The fermentation is partial whole-cluster with wild yeast in stainless steel vats. No sulfur added.
appellation: Coteaux du Giennois, France
grape variety: pinot noir
Brothers Clement and Florian are the current generation running the Berthier family estate based in Sainte Gemme en Sancerre, in the eastern Loire Valley. Their parents established the estate in 1983, and today the family owns 19 hectares of vines, 10 of wh ich in Sancerre, the other 9 in the Coteaux du Giennois appellation, just north of Sancerre. Though most of their production is based on sauvignon blanc, they do make this 100% pinot noir from their Giennois vineyards. Aromatic and round, with classic Loire acidity, it’s a perfect red for goat cheeses or lighter protein dishes.
appellation: Bergerac, France
grape varieties: merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec
If you travel east out of Bordeaux along the Dordogne river, you will come to the rolling hills of Bergerac. The wines here, based on Bordeaux grapes, have long been considered the rustic, simple cousins to more elegant (and expensive) Bordeaux. The work of conscientious winemakers like Stephane Derenoncourt at Chateau Monestier is turning that stereotype around by showcasing the region’s hearty, calcareous soils that are desirable for producing balanced, refreshingly drinkable wines. The sprawling, picturesque chateau was originally built in the 13th century to house the local militia. Today the property has 30 hectares of vines, and produces both white and red wines. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel, with indigenous yeasts, and the wine sits on its lees for 5 months before bottling. Medium-bodied with plenty of satisfying dark fruit and supple tannins, balanced with clean acidity, this is a red for meat — try it with grilled beef ribs.
appellation: Campo de Borja, Spain
grape variety: garnacha