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 Domaine de la Bregeonnette Muscadet Sèvre et Maine
appellation: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (Loire), France
grape variety: melon de bourgogne
Stephane Orieux’s father Joseph is considered one of the pioneers of organic farming in the western Loire, having only ever farmed his vines organically from the estate’s inception in the 1960’s. The estate has carried official certification from Ecocert since the certification organization was established in 1991. Stephane continues his father’s’ legacy producing organic wines that are quintessential in their Loire personality and expression- lively, snappy, and transparently expressive of the estate’s mica-schist-driven soil. This cuvee is a classic, loaded with lime zest, and mouth-watering mineral texture – if this wine could talk it would beg you for a big plate of oysters.
2014 Famille Laurent Calnite Blanc
appellation: Saint-Pourçain, France
grape varieties: chardonnay, tressalier, sauvignon blanc
Saint Pourçain is located on the slopes of a defunct chain of volcanos in the Auvergne region in Central France. Although it’s called a Loire Valley wine (the Loire river starts there), Saint Pourçain is closer to Lyons than to Tours, for instance. Husband Jean-Pierre, wife Corinne and son Damien work the estate owned by Corinne’s family since the beginning of the 20th century. The property makes red, white and rosé wine on 45 acres of granite and limestone soil. Here we have a chardonnay that’s blended with the old local variety tressalier (called Sacy up north) and a bit of sauvignon. Try it with a simple preparation of a less oily fish like bass or cod.
2015 Vigneti Massa Terra Sic Est
appellation: Vino Rosato, Italy
grape varieties: freisa, barbera
Walter Massa is best known for his work to put the nearly extinct white variety timorasso on the map over the last fifteen years or so. This corner of Piedmont, tucked up against Lombardy and the Oltrepo Pavese, may not possess the glorious winemaking history of the Langhe, but plenty of decent red wine is produced here. To our knowledge, Massa was one of the first to experiment with the production of rosé, which for a grape like barbera, with its characteristic bombastic fruit, lower tannin, and higher acidity, makes perfect sense. The current vintage is a blend of freisa (father of nebbiolo) and barbera, and would be just delightful with some prosciutto or dry sausage, mountain cheese, and marinated artichokes.
2014 Les Hauts de Valcombe
appellation: Ventoux, France
grape varieties: grenache, syrah, carignan, cinsault
Paul Jeune, the dynamic sixth generation winemaker and owner of Domaine de Montpertuis in Châteauneuf du Pâpe, acquired the Chateau Valcombe in 2000. The terroir of Valcombe is situated at an altitude of 1000 feet on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux, one of the most majestic sites in Provence. This elevation offers relief from the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, creating a unique micro-climate for Valcombe’s vineyards. The majority of the vineyards, are situated on rocky, brown limestone soils covered with “galets”, rocks worn smooth and round by the Rhône River. These “galets” are beneficial in two ways: first, they prevent excessive evaporation of the scarce moisture in the subsoil; second, they capture energy from the sun during the day and radiate it back on the vines at night. These factors insure ideal ripening conditions for the grapes. The difficult climate, rocky, unfertile soil, and the old vines combine to limit yields and produce remarkable quality. Bright, brambly, berry-scented fruit give this cuvée a surprisingly fresh lift. Bring it to a barbecue!
2012 Château du Cayrou Cahors
appellation: Cahors, France
grape variety: malbec
The Douin family are the current stewards of the Chateau de Cayrou, a 17th century castle situated on the terraces of the Lot river near the village Puy l’Évèque in the heart of Cahors. The word ‘cayrou’ means gravel, and that is our first clue about the character of wines made here. The grape of this region is côt, also known as malbec – a tannic variety that does well on this poor gravelly soil, which drains very well. That increased drainage promotes earlier ripening and helps to soften côt’s tannins. That suits Julien Douin’s goal – to make côt-based wines that are fragrant and expressive, not the tannic monsters called “black wines” for which Cahors is well-known. He is also radical towards that end in that he uses zero oak in his winemaking, only stainless steel. An additional 10% of merlot in this cuvée adds an extra touch of softness, and the resulting blend is aromatic and bright, with plenty of peppery spice and a long soft finish that makes it dangerously easy-drinking. Try with zucchinis and peppers on the grill, and some sheep’s milk cheese from the nearby Pyrenees.
2012 Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture
appellation: Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata), Italy
grape variety: aglianico
There’s aglianico – rustic, massive, with runaway tannins, and then there’s aglianico – deep and structured, but with finesse, and the red wines of Grifalco fall firmly in that second category of wines, much to our pleasure. Fabrizio and Cecilia Piccin, the proprietors of Grifalco, are transplants from the village of Montepulciano, who came south to invest in what they saw having great potential – both the grape aglianico, and Basilicata, the region. “Grifalco” is one of four bottlings they produce, made from a blend of fruit from four different vineyard sites whose vines average 30-40 years old. Aging is divided between stainless steel (80%) and barrique (20%), yielding a wine that sidesteps aglianco’s penchant towards tannic and bitter – and is instead lively with fresh dark fruit, and satisfyingly structured. Calling all meat-lovers – here is a wine for your next ribeye on the grill.