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!
Domaine du Viking Vouvray Brut
appellation: Vouvray (Loire), France
grape variety: chenin blanc
Lionel Gauthier became known as “le Viking” because of his shock of blond hair and for his voracious appetite. The estate’s story is one of Post-WWII survival, as his wife Francoise’s grandfather was killed by the Nazis when he attempted to sabotage the nearby train tracks. Forced into managing the family’s two hectare farm, Françoise’s tore out the cereal crops and planted vines throughout, a risky decision that has obviously paid off. the family produces elegant, off-dry, still Vouvray from silex-dominant soils in the north of the appellation, and a small amount of this sparkling wine. Fermented on the lees in stainless steel tanks for a year before bottling, and balanced with just a touch of dosage, we hope this wine serves as a reminder of the joy of drinking sparkling wine, regardless of the occasion. You’d be well served to have a little aged goat cheese handy.
Our first Georgian wine in the Pass! You may have been to one of our tastings here in the shop with the passionate young advocate for Georgian wines from the local importer Georgian Toast, wherein we’ve explored kveri-aged rkatsiteli and saperavi, among other things. Here we have a more modern wine from Kakheti Tradional Winemaking, a project in preserving the nation’s bevy of native varieties. Mtsvane may be the Kakheti region’s best shot at age-worthy white wines, as this wine’s dense, sapid texture would suggest. We’re guessing you don’t have a Georgian cookbook handy, so you might try this somewhat American-ized recipe for adjaruli khachapuri, which is basically a sauceless pizza smothered by a pool of cheese and egg.
grape variety: pinot noir
We sold our allocation of Johannes Leitz’s stunner of a rosé too early this year, but when we went back to the well, this wine came to our attention. It looks identical to the one we were selling, except for the word “hefeabzug” in small print at the bottom of the label. This is essentially last year’s rosé, aged for a year on the lees, and bottled at around the same time as was the current vintage. The extra year of aging has toned down the wine’s fresh fruit aromatics a notch or two, bringing forth a swath of stony mineral richness. Another reminder of the completely unwarranted obsession with vintage currency in rosé, this is far more vinous and complex than would be expected at first glance. Try it with grilled sausages or fried chicken.
appellation: Orlèans (Loire), France
grape varieties: pinot meunier, pinot noir
There’s not a lot of still, red pinot meunier out there, which made this wine a fun trick question blind tasting guessing game. The grape is getting more attention than ever in Champagne, where after decades of barely acknowledging its existence, wines with pinot meunier at the fore of a blend are becoming more and more common. Outside of Champagne, we’re still not sure what to make of it. Clos Saint Fiacre is a small family estate that has benefitted from the recent addition of Orlèans to AOC status (2006). About an hour west of Paris, Orléans is along the northerly bend of the Loire, east of Cheverny and north of Sancerre. We don’t know if it’s a common thing to grow pinot meunier here, but judging by the truly distinctive aromatics of this wine, it probably ought to be. This is wine for drinkers of Beaujolais and Burgundy, with its classic northern climate aromatics and snappy acidity. If it’s hot and humid outside, give it a chill!
Tony Coturri is a legendary old-school California winemaker, and one who was making natural wine before we knew what to call it. The style of his red wines hearkens to the days when the object was to achieve the ripest possible fruit, producing wines stronger in alcohol and more intense in flavor than anything coming out of France or Italy. He continues on this path with most of his wines, trends be damned. This wine is one mild concession to the current trend of lighter, more European-style Californian wines. From the Massachusetts distributor (Tony doesn’t publish information about this wine on his web site), it’s a blend of 40% rosé of carignan, 40% rosé of syrah, and 20% red Carignan. From the look and taste of this wine, we think the term “rosé” is being used loosely, perhaps just acknowledging a shorter maceration time, though still likely longer than typical for Provençal rosé. Here’s what we’re sure about with this wine: it is decidedly old-school in profile; it is definitely a Coturri wine; and, it’s more Californian than most Californian wine.
grape varieties: grenache, carignan
A couple of years ago we had the good fortune to host winemaker Patri Morillo, for a night that cemented for us of the importance and distinction of the appellation of Montsant. This is an appellation that literally and figuratively sits in the shadow of the hill of Priorat, whose best wines became the darlings of international critics a few decades ago, in the height of Mondovino wine homogenization. While Montsant has benefitted to some extent from Priorat’s exposure, there’s still a struggle for identity and distinct recognition. Patri’s passion for the granite soils of Montsant and for the sustaining of traditional Spanish viticulture was evident that night a couple years ago, and it’s evident in this wine, which has evolved beautifully in its time since bottling. With still plenty of fruit, none of it cooked or dried out, this wine is all about its granitic core. Aside from the obvious plate of jamon, olives, and aged sheep’s milk cheeses, we can see this working well with the richest of meats and more elaborate meals.