Welcome to the sixth 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!
appellation: Alsace, FR
grape variety: riesling
The Boeckel family set its roots in the hamlet of Mittelbergheim four centuries ago and commenced commercial wine activity in the middle of the 19th century. Five generations on, we find the brothers Jean-Daniel and Thomas at the helm of an estate with holdings in some of the best vineyard sites in the Bas-Rhin. Here we are equidistant from Strasbourg and Colmar, a bit further north than the center of Alsatian wine production, where slightly cooler temperatures lead to leaner, and at times more elegant wines than those from the Haut-Rhin. This dry riesling is grown in limestone soils, hand-harvested, and slow-fermented at controlled temperatures before aging for a while in big, old, wooden barrels. It’s great with rich, creamy, stinky cheese, sole meuniere, or sushi.
appellation: Terre Siciliane, Italy
grape variety: Catarratto
Valdibella was started by a small community of wine, olive, and almond farmers as a social experiment. They are one of the first members of the Addiopizzo organization, whose main goal is to reestablish the dignity of small businesses of Sicily by refusing to pay racket to the island’s ubiquitous mafia. To put this into perspective, somewhere close to 80% of Sicily’s commercial enterprises pay the pizzo. Further, the father of one the growers at Valdibella, a doctor with strong community ties, was executed by the a member of the Mafia. Companies like Valdibella demonstrate immense courage by committing to this movement, at great personal risk for all those involved. All this said, the organic wines produced by Valdibella represent some of the best values from anywhere these days. Ninfa is an effortlessly drinkable, delicious white made from the local catarratto grape and fermented and bottled without any sulfur added. It’s great on its own as an aperitif, or try it with mezze or garlicky shellfish.
appellation: Burgenland, AT
grape varieties: zweigelt, blaufränkisch, st. laurent
Meinklang embodies the biodynamic principles of Rudolf Steiner. A mixed-use farm which produces wine, beer, apples, and livestock, each aspect feeding into the other to foster a healthy larger ecosystem. A recent post about the introduction of colonies of insects to reinvigorate the bee population shows just how far they are willing to go to improve the health of their farm. We’ve enjoyed the fizzy rosé of pinot noir from Meinklang for several vintages now, and we’re thrilled to introduce this exciting new red blend, featuring each of the three most important red varieties grown in Austria. Zweigelt is the most widely-planted, and is in fact a hybrid of the other two. A real vin de soif, this wine goes great with dancing and revelry.
appellation: Cahors, FR
grape varieties: malbec, tannat
Yes, that malbec! Counter to popular opinion, French malbec pre-dates Argentinian malbec by about seven centuries. The southwestern appellation of Cahors is one of the last bastions of the variety in its motherland. Whether its grown in Argentina or France, the wine will never be faulted for lack of extraction. Malbec can produce wines so opaque as to have garnered the nick-name “black wine” by the British wine market. Gilles Bley of Clos Siguier aims to chisel away some of the harder qualities of this wine and fashion a fresher, more delicate, even elegant version of Cahors. As usual, it all starts in the vineyard, where Bley is firmly committed to organic principles. To play up the more rugged side of the wine, pair it with something like cassoulet. To see the more subtle aspects, try it with well-aged cheeses and dried meats.
appellation: Montsant, SP
grape variety: granatxa
Joan and Josep D’Anguera took over the family estate after their father passed away a few years ago. They began a process of returning the estate to its ancestral origins, choosing biodynamic viticulture as a vehicle. 2011 is the last of a multi-year process of biodynamic conversion, with 2012 likely to bring the first Demeter-certified wines. The Montsant appellation is itself in a period of transition, having only been awarded official status in 2001. These vineyards lie in the shadows of Priorat, though the soil structures are dramatically different. Altaroses is the truest expression of what the brothers are trying to achieve, which is a finer, less extracted, more mineral-driven style of wine. Rather than the denser mountainous black slate, we find looser, sandy limestone. The fruit is crushed by foot and aged in a combination of concrete tanks and old wooden barrels. No rules in pairing this wine — go nuts!
appellation: Chianti Classico, IT
grape varieties: sangiovese
Four generations ago, in 1969 to be exact, the Sestini family – originally from Florence – purchased a small estate on the boundary between Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Fiorentini, near the River Pesa. The estate, Fattoria Poggio Romita, is named for a hillside vineyard – a poggio – near the small (50 people!) town of Romita, and is currently maintained by Andrea Sestini and his wife, Anna Rita. Currently, the estate covers 15 ha of vineyards in Colli Fiorentini and 3 ha in Chianti Classico, plus about 15 ha of olives for their fine extra virgin olive oil. They’re traditional wine producers, using the typical Chianti varietals – Sangiovese and Cannaiolo – for everything except their super-Tuscan, La Sassaia. Here we have a Chianti Classico well into its prime years, where seldom we see them. It’s full of rustic charm, and would happily sit next to a simple pasta dish of any kind.