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: Mâcon-Villages, FR
grape variety: chardonnay
Vergier is known in French winemaking circles more for his contributions as an educator and consultant than for his fledgling business as a négociant. Based in Meursault, he recognized the quality of some particularly fine harvests in Macon and Beaujolais just a few years ago and decided to single them out for his own line. This Macon-Villages, which he names “Eros” after his rather large dog, is a blend of fruit from Igé, Pierreclos, and Roche-Vineuse, three villages in the southern part of the Macon region. We first carried this vintage late last year, upon its initial arrival, when it was still very compact and nervy. The additional time in the bottle has allowed the wine to truly blossom, with aromatics leaning toward the tropical. Enjoy “Eros” with poached or grilled fish.
appellation: Niederösterreich, AT
grape variety: grüner veltliner
The name Moser is indelibly linked to the historic vineyards of northern Austria. Records dating back to the 12th century recognize the administrator of the winery of the Benedictine Abbey at Rohrendorf as having the name Moser. The line continued to the mid 19th century, when Anton Moser assumed possession of the winery upon the abolition of serfdom. Today, the Mosers are nearing completion of their vineyards conversion to biodynamic viticulture, with their first wines certified organic in 2009. “Sepp” is their easy-going introduction to the best-known Austrian grape varieties, grüner veltiner and zweigelt. At first glance, this very modern-looking label might suggest a wine of little substance. Like the surprising flavor of the summer’s first really great tomato, this wine invigorates, inundates, and refreshes! Drink it with anything and everything.
appellation: Irouléguy, FR
grape varieties: tannat, cabernet franc
A wine near and dear to our hearts, as Domaine Brana was a stop on the trip when my wife and I were engaged. Also, Irouléguy was in the New York Times this week! Brana is the largest of the independent winegrowers in Irouléguy, which is the smallest wine appellation in France. The hillside vineyards sit across the valley from the fortified town of Saint Jean Pied de Port, the starting point of the famous pilgrimage across northern Spain to Santiago. We are on the Atlantic side of the Pyrenées, in southwestern corner of France, and in the heart of Basque country. Brana makes white, rosé, red, and other delicous things. Their rosé is typically a little bit ornery in its first year. Tannat is almost always made into a red wine, and a dark, brooding one at that. We find it here with an extra year under its belt, and now significantly more easy going and generous. A darker rosé than the ubiquitous summer quaffers from Provence and elsewhere, this is a wine that can play a more important role in your meal, other than simple refreshment. Spicy seafood, charcuterie, and barbecue are some suggestions, but go wild!
appellation: Piemonte, IT
grape variety: grignolino
Castello di Neive is an old-school Piemontese producer, still run by its founding family, the Stupinos. They are best known for their very traditional Barbarescos, though they make very good barberas and dolcettos, as well. Grignolino represents around 2% of their total production, which rounds out to approximately 300 cases annually. A native of Monferrato, in the southeastern corner of Piedmont, the name grignolino comes from grignole, which means “many pips” in the local dialect. It is a grape that produces a lot of seeds, which can translate into a bitter, tannic flavor. The wine is typically low in alcohol, light in color, and made to drink young, while we wait for the more noble wines to mature. It’s one of our favorite lunch wines, and makes a great pair to a summer meal when spending time in the kitchen isn’t likely to happen. Salumi, cheese, and marinated grilled vegetables come to mind.
appellation: Abruzzo, IT
grape variety: montepulciano
Francesco Cirelli and his partner Michela released their first vintage in 2008, and have already become darlings of the international natural wine scene. After a while spent in various aspects of the wine industry, Francesco decided to start a mixed-use farm firmly rooted in organic agriculture. In addition to wine, they produce figs, garlic, and geese! Our first reaction to this wine was surprise at how little it resembles the typical Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Its higher-toned fruit seemed closer to something from further north, say maybe a coastal Tuscan sangiovese, or even a barbera from Piedmont. It’s clear that this is a project designed to broaden the scope of what’s possible in making wine in Abruzzo. Grilled pizza? Is that a thing these days? Regular pizza might work, too. Can you tell we haven’t spent much time cooking these days?
appellation: Bourgueil, FR
grape varieties: cabernet franc
Domaine de la Chevalerie, under the Caslot family, is a serious producer, with nearly four centuries of winemaking in the Loire Valley appellation of Bourgueil. They farm biodynamically and trust the fruits of their labor require very little manipulation in the winery. They own some of the best parcels of vineyards scattered throughout the appellation and make several different cuvées each year. The name and label of this one changes each year, at the whim of collaborating watercolorist, writer, and culinary expert Jean Jack Martin. Bonheur is the French word for “happiness”, which is what this wine is designed to provide. It’s a thirst-quenching, uncomplicated style of red wine that doesn’t beg for any particular food or context. It’s just there to please.