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!
appellation: IGP Isère – Balmes Dauphinoises
grape variety: altesse
Nicolas Gonin is known for his work to locate and replant what he calls “orphan” grape varieties — those once planted widely before the ravages of war and phylloxera decimated the winemaking industry of Isère. In a sense, Gonin himself might be considered an orphan, as he is one of the few commercial winemakers left in his village of Saint-Chef, where once there were 1,000 hectares of vineyards, now there around 25, of which he manages about 5.5. His resumé includes enology training in Beaune and a stint at Domaine Tempier in Bandol, which should limit the surprise as to the success of his wines. Here we have a variety now somewhat commonly found in Savoie, just to the east. Gentle floral aromatics and a subtle nutty note make this a quintessential mountain cheese wine.
appellation: Touraine (Loire), France
grape variety: sauvignon
We have grown quite fond of Olivier Bellanger’s bright, refreshing Touraine wines he makes at his small estate, Domaine de la Piffaudiere, in his hometown of Monthou-sur-Chere. His style is hands-off and very natural, drawing on experiences spent apprenticing to natural wine guru Phillip Tessier in Cheverny. He harvests all 10 hectares of densely planted vines by hand, and vinifies in fiberglass and old barrels in his ancient, deeply carved limestone cellar. His sauvignon blanc is bombastic and aromatic, full of tropical passionfruit notes and zippy acidity. Try this with a salty, chalky, lightly-aged goat’s milk cheese like Valencay Affiné, made just east of Bellanger’s estate.
appellation: Alsace, France
grape variety: cabernet franc
Inspired by last week’s warm weather, and despite of tonight’s forecast for potential snow showers, we’ve decided to include one of the first rosés of the new vintage. This also serves as an introduction to the wines of Anthony Road, one of the pioneers of modern winemaking in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Without any previous agricultural experience, John and Ann Martini planted their first vines in 1973. These days they’re joined by their four children, along with their spouses and children, in the management of about 80 acres of vines and the production of a full range of whites, reds, and rosés. This recently finished wine is brimming with lively fruit, and ought to bring a smile in the way only a fresh rosé can. You just might want to save it for the next day temperatures rise above 50 degrees.
Alto Adige, or Sudtirol in German, sits high up in the Italian Alps along the Austrian border, hugging a Y-shaped glacial valley that since Roman times served as northern Italy’s main gateway to the rest of Europe. Grapes were first planted here by the Romans, in steeply terraced Alpine vineyards. A progeny of teroldego, cousin of syrah, and grandchild of pinot noir, lagrein produces a woodsy, medium-bodied wine with plenty of plummy fruit, velvety tannins, and an appealing mineral edge. The Colterenzio cooperative is one of the leading producers in the region, with over 300 small contributing growers scattered around the village. Serve this red with a light chill and pair it with a whole roasted chicken, and potatoes, are a firm mountain cows milk cheese like Monte Veronese or Gruyere.
appellation: Toscana, Italy
grape variety: sangiovese
Ah, Montalcino …. where to begin? The origin of some of Italy’s most soulful and haunting wines, and also the capital of wine globalization: overly ambitious foreign investors, flying winemakers, scandal, vandalism, and tons and tons of mediocre wine. La Gerla started in 1976, upon the acquisition of a piece of the hallowed Biondi-Santi estate by successful businessman Sergio Rossi. For the rest of his life, Rossi put all of his energy into improving the health and quality of his vineyards and wines, marrying the influx of modern technology with the utmost respect for the history and traditions of Montalcino. Just five wines are produced at La Gerla, all entirely of sangiovese grosso, distinguished only by vine age, location, and elevage. “Poggio gli Angeli”, named after one of the estate’s vineyards, comes from that vineyards more recently planted vines (15 years old), and spends just 4 months in oak barrels before bottling. What we love about this sort of declassified wine is that in a good vintage, you still get a whisper of the character of a great Brunello.
appellation: Fitou (Languedoc), France
grape varieties: carignan, grenache, syrah
The Fitou AOC sits in the southeastern corner of the Languedoc-Roussillon, in the wild, sun-drenched corner of France that hugs the Mediterranean and Spanish border. The Mont Tauch cooperative is one of the oldest in the region, established in 1913 – before any of the region’s appellations! In their 100-year history they have evolved in a market that values specificity, and restructured their coop model to incentivize members to contribute their best grapes for more premium, terroir-specific bottlings that show true southern character. This wine from Chateau de Montmal is one such offering, made of mainly carignan, and loaded with chewy, grape-y fruit and warm body. This is the first year that this property is certified organic, another effort of the cooperative. A perfect wine for these last cold blustery nights of spring (we hope) – pair with a cozy stew or slow roasted meat.