Welcome to the fourth 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!
Importer Jose Pastor went all in on the wines of the Canary Islands a couple years ago, bringing the wines of Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, et cetera. Situated not far off the coast of Morocco, the archipelago boasts a completely unique set of climactic and geological conditions, along with a treasure trove of odd varieties not typically found anywhere else. This white is made from listan blanco, which is genetically identical to the primary grape used to make sherry. Imagine you’re somewhere a lot warmer when your drinking this one. Shellfish, fresh herbs, olives, and citrus are all friendly pairs.
appellation: North Coast
grape varieties: pinot gris, semillon, muscadelle, sauvignon blanc
Some recent New York press about this new-ish California estate brought this wine to our attention. Winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson has a the winemaking pedigree and experience to produce wines that could fetch a whole lot more, but he choses to focus on bringing wines of value to the market. This white blend changes year to year, depending on what’s available. The previous cuvée featured more semillon from the Monte Rosso vineyard, while this edition puts pinot gris at the fore. We really like the balance and nuance of this wine, two words we don’t normally associate with inexpensive California whites. And no, it’s not oaky. A bit more substantial than some, this would stand up to roast chicken or a pork chop, though it’s just fine on its own, as well.
appellation: Waipara Valley, NZ
grape variety: pinot noir
We’ve always had interest in the reds of New Zealand, though by the time they get here, they’re often more expensive than they ought to be. The same cool climate that gives their sauvignon blanc the intensely acidic structure and exotic aromatic presence allows pinot noir to achieve some similarly fascinating effects. This wine is supremely drinkable, with flavors in the red currant / cranberry range, a subtle tendril of smoke, and plenty of bracing acidity. Give it a shot with shepherd’s pie, or some other warming winter casserole.
appellation: Rosso di Valtellina, IT
grape variety: chiavennasca (nebbiolo)
Nera is onto its third generation of making wine up in the alpine hills of Valtellina. Nebbiolo has adapted to this region’s severe growing season, producing wines that share some of the flavor elements of those of the Langhe, though a bit more compact or restrained in fruit. After a traditional, long fermentation, this simple rosso spent a short time in oak to soften the tannins before bottling. It’s in a really nice moment of its development right now, though it could likely go a few more years. This is a no-brainer for risotto or polenta with wild mushrooms.
appellation: Vino Rosso – Marca Obertenga, IT
grape variety: barbera
Talented and passionate winemaker Walter Massa has more or less single-handedly brought international attention to his corner of Piedmont, and to a rare white variety called timorasso. We have that wine in stock, and we dig it, but his rustic, delicious barbera, simply called “Fuso” is his real bread and butter. We gave it a break for the better part of a year before recently tasting it again and bringing it back to the shop. Food is optional with this wine, though if you’re hungry, don’t be shy — it’s an easy pair with just about anything.
Domaine de Piaugier is in and around the village of Sablet, which was given sub-appellation status in 1974, and sits between Seguret and Gigondas, in the southern stretch of the Rhone River valley. Fourth generation winemaker Jean-Marc Autran isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel here. He produces a handful of traditional Rhone wines, with the intention of achieving the best balance every vintage. There’s a charming spice note here which would really pop with a slow roast of some kind.