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!
2014 Susana Esteban “Aventura”
appellation: Alentejano, Portugal
grape varieties: arinto, etc.
Susana Esteban is a rising star in the Portuguese winemaking community, and the first woman to win “Best Winemaker of the Year” from Revistos dos Vinhos, Portugal’s leading wine publication. After years working for wineries throughout Portugal, she began a search for her own vineyards in 2009. She settled on a couple of vineyards in the southern province of Alentejo. National political turmoil in the mid 1970’s left this region in practical economic ruin, and winemaking has struggled to regain its significance. In truth, the majority of wine coming from this area is made with a mind of quantity over quality. Esteban is looking to change that reality/perception. The white “Aventura” is a blend of many white grape varieties grown and vinified together, as has been the tradition throughout Portugal for centuries. Try this spirited white with oily fish or brandade.
2013 Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc Tradition
appellation: Alsace, France
grape variety: pinot blanc
The Beyer family estate is situated around the village of Eguisheim, considered the “cradle of Alsace wine” because of its historic monastic vineyards. These vineyards, originally planted by the Romans, were gifted to abbeys by French rulers. The earliest such gifting in Eguisheim dates back to 898, when the Abbey of Ebersmunster was gifted vines by Charlemagne. The Beyer family has owned vineyards in this village dating back as far as the late 1700s. Today, the estates 17 hectares are looked after by Christian Beyer, the 14th generation of his family to make wine here, based on traditional Alsatian varieties like pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, and riesling. In addition to their grand cru bottlings, the estate makes varietal bottlings like this pinot blanc. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, it is meant to be lively and fresh, with plenty of Alsatian silky texture balanced with tons of acidity. This is a white for any holiday meal, it’s classic yellow apple and light floral notes are a perfect foil to heavy winter ingredients.
2013 Le Clos des Jarres “Insouciance”
appellation: Côteaux de Peyriac, France
grape varieties: caladoc, merlot
Vivien Hemelsdael is a young winemaker who recently took over the family estate from his parents in the gentle slopes of the Black Mountains of Minervois, in the Languedoc. His vineyards are certified organic, taking care to tailor practices to suit the particular situation of each plot. “Insouciance” is a blend of two-thirds caladoc (grenache x malbec cross) growing in sandy-clay north-facing slopes and one-third merlot growing in more gravelly soils. The wine begins its fermentation in whole clusters to promote freshness and levity, giving this wine its care-free nature.
2013 Domaine de l’Idylle Arbin Mondeuse
appellation: Savoie, France
grape variety: mondeuse
Brothers Philippe and Francois Tiollier farm their family’s 20 hectares of steeply sloped Alpine vineyards in the Savoie village of Cruet, south of Chambéry (famous for its vermouth). Their production is dedicated to Savoie varietals like jacquère, roussanne, and altesse for whites, and mondeuse for reds. Mondeuse is a very old mountain variety native to the French Alps, from which is thought to have descended the world-famous Rhone variety syrah. The Tiollier’s mondeuse is super aromatic, with spicy red fruit, soft tannins, and a pleasantly earthy liquorice note on the palate. Pair this wine with anything from roasted chicken and potatoes to mountain cheeses like Abondance or a young Comté.
2013 Vina Skaramuca Plavac
appellation: Dingac, Croatia
grape varieties: plavac mali
It seems we still have a lot to learn about Croatia! By now at least some of you are familiar with another Dingac Plavac that we’ve featured here, and was featured as the show-stopper in the Boston Globe’s Plonk-a-palooza article a couple years back. Vina Skaramuca is a small, family-owned winery making a lineup of wines from the steep slopes of Dingac, on the southern tip of the Peljesac Peninsula, off the southern mainland Croatian coastline. As we’ve covered before, it was recently established that plavac has a parent-sibling relationship with zinfandel, much to the surprise of many a fan of Italian primitivo (no relation). Of course Dingac Plavac bears little resemblance to Lodi zinfandel. This wine’s characteristic salinity and dark vegetal aroma complement its rich fruit, and make it a fun wine to pair. Legumes, squash, za’atar? Tuna, sesame, wasabi? Lots of possibilities.
2014 IBY Blaufränkisch Classic
appellation: Burgenland, Austria
grape variety: blaufränkisch
The IBY estate is located in the town of Horitschon in Mittelburgenland (middle burgenland) on Austria’s eastern border with Hungary. In this corner of Austria, red grapes are the focus, and this 35 hectare estate grows only red grapes, focusing primarily on blaufränkisch. Blaufränkisch does particularly well in this section of Burgenland, where it is protected by dense forests to the north, and warmed by winds blowing in from the east. It is particularly expressive of its soil, and can yield a range of flavors: from lively and fresh with young acidity, to richer and more full-bodied with lots of spice. This bottling from IBY is made in stainless steel to preserve its cherry and flower aromas and juicy soft tannins. Pair this with herb roasted pork chop, or other light proteins.