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!
2015 Les Bètes Curieuses Muscadet Primeur “Le Lapin de 6 Semaines”
appellation: Muscadet (Loire), France
grape variety: melon
The combined efforts of two Frenchmen named Jeremie, Les Bètes Curieuses aims to shine more light on the truly distinctive crus within the Muscadet appellation. They produce small amounts of the recently created sub-appellations Clisson, Goulaine, Gorge, and Château Thébaud, each showing a truly unique manifestation of soil and exposition through the lens of the local melon variety. As they put it, this wine is the “little brother”, made from young vines grown in a parcel called “La Garenne”, and as the name indicates, the time from harvest to bottling is 6 weeks. As with all their wines, viticulture is organic, and the winemaking is as non-interventionist as possible. Muscadet often comes up as the first example of mineral white wine, though this is more of an expression of the fruit. Enjoy as an apéritif or throughout any lighter meal.
2015 Perusini Sauvignon Blanc
appellation: Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
grape variety: sauvignon
The Perusini family estate is one of the oldest properties in the Colli Orientali, dating back to the 15th century with commercial winemaking beginning in the 18th century. The Perusinis have been instrumental in preserving the area’s local varietal heritage, especially in the case of picolit, which without the help of Giacomo Perusini in the early part of the 20th century, would likely only be found in the history books. Today the estate is managed by Giacomo’s granddaughter Teresa and her husband Giacomo di Pace. The majority of production here is in white wine, split into four varietal bottlings. The sauvignon blanc from this part of the world tends to carry more flesh than its Loire progenitor, though you’re less likely to find the brash, underripe flavors of some New World sauvignon. It’s a perfect pair for shellfish or octopus salad, and can work with most other seafood just as well.
2016 Pierre-Marie Chermette Beaujolais Primeur
appellation: Beaujolais, France
grape variety: gamay
When introducing people to the great wines of Beaujolais, we spend a lot of our time disparaging light, simple, banana-bubblegum-fruity Beaujolais Nouveau as a point of contrast. However, there still are a few excellent examples of Beaujolais Nouveau worth trying, and Chermette’s tops our list every year. It’s still light and simple, but its fruit stops short of saccharine. How do they do it? Like most wines, it starts in the vineyard, where Chermette’s philosophy falls into the loose category la lutte raisonée. The temptation with Nouveau is to add sugar, quick and reliable commercial yeast, and possibly enzymes or other yeast nutrients, to ensure the fastest possible fermentation. Chermette does none of this, leaving an actual wine in the bottle — an expression of the new vintage in its purest possible form. Don’t fuss about with pairings on this wine. Just chill it down to somewhere near cellar temperature and drink up!
2014 Le Clos des Jarres “Abrensis”
appellation: Minervois (Languedoc), France
grape varieties: grenache, carignan, syrah
Vivien Hemelsdael took over the management of his family’s 12 hectare farm in 2010, and Domaine Le Clos des Jarres was born. Tucked in the wild hills of Minervois in Southwest France, the estate focuses on red wines made of the region’s traditional grape varieties: grenache, syrah, carignan, along with a small amount of sauvignon blanc. He makes 5 cuvées in total – one white, one rose, and three reds. “Abrensis” is named for its vineyard site, “Abrens”, which bears the name of the Roman solider who first planted vines on the site of the hamlet Le Tinal de Abrens (Abren’s barrel) some 2,000 years ago. According to Vivien, “Wine is born on the vine, where it acquires all of its character and finesse; winemaking merely refines these qualities, and allows them to sing”. Drink this wine with any manner of light charcuterie, or roasted mushrooms and herbs.
2015 Luigi Pira Dolcetto
appellation: Piedmont, Italy
grape variety: dolcetto
This branch of Pira was established in the 1950’s, with its core vineyards some of the most lauded around the village of Serralunga, in the heart of Barolo. It was only a few years ago that son Gianpaolo began making wines and bottling them at the estate, while his father Luigi and brother Romolo manage the vineyards. In that short time Pira wines, and their distinctive style, have made a name for themselves as some of the best in Serralunga and the region. While nebbiolo tends to take center stage, the family’s dolcetto is also a serious gem- made from old vines also grown in Serralunga. Dolcetto was traditionally the wine of the table, which farmers drank while their nebbiolo aged for longer periods before release. It makes sense why – layered and intense, with addictive black plum fruit and slightly lower acidity than barbera, dolcetto makes an excellent food wine, with anything from a simple pasta to a roast.
2012 Textbook “Page Turner”
appellation: Napa Valley, California
grape variety: merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc
Jonathan and Susay Pey produce wines under several labels from Napa and Sonoma Counties. Textbook showcases their best fruit from Napa, coming from mature, well-drained, organically managed sites on rocky east and west sides of the Oakville District AVA, next door to Screaming Eagle, downslope from Harlan and near To-Kalon vineyards. This Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend spent nearly two years in new French oak barrels, leaving a wine of immense power and glistening polish. Save this one for a night with the family over a cheer-filled holiday meal.