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: Rioja, Spain
grape varieties: viura, malvasia riojana
Their family has owned grapevines for generations, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Gorka and Itxaso started making their own wines under the Herrigoia label. In Basque dialect, Herrigoia translates to “uptown”- referring to the higher hilltop positions of their parcels, where the soil is more limestone-heavy, and produces fresher, more minerally wines. The family owns 4 hectares of old vines spread across 17 different parcels. Their vines are not trellised, but grown “bush style” — left low to the ground, like bushes, to allow for more foliage to protect grape clusters from the heat of the sun. Production is typically lower with this older style of training, but the resulting fruit is typically more concentrated and complex. This is a lively white, loaded with friendly fruit, and infinitely versatile with food. Try with a hunk of sheep’s milk cheese and a plate of olives for a typical Spanish afternoon bocadillo.
appellation: Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Tuscany), Italy
grape variety: vernaccia
This one may be familiar, as we’ve previously included another wine from Montenidoli in the Pass, but we forgive ourselves because we are so charmed by the winemaker, Elizabetta Fagioili, and all of her wines. Elizabetta only stands about 5 feet tall, but her personality looms large. She purchased and revitalized the Montenidoli estate with her husband in the mid 60s, and since his passing, she continues the work they began together. The property is 24 hectares of vines divided between red and white grapes. The red grapes – sangiovese and canaiolo, are planted on the tops of the hills, where the soil is older and more mineral-rich. The whites, vernaccia, malvasia, and trebbiano, are planted on the slopes, where the soils are more calcareous from ancient seashell deposits left by the retreat of the Ligurian Sea. Vernaccia is the star grape around the walled village of San Gimignano, just west of Chianti Classico, and Elizabetta makes several different bottlings. Her vernaccia “Tradizionale” is, as the name suggests, made in the traditional fashion by letting the juice macerate on the skins to extract more body and flavor. It is full-bodied and robust, loaded with peach fruit, sweet fennel, and fresh saline minerals. This white can handle intensely flavored proteins like pork, but is also delightful next to a simple bowl of Tuscan white beans with freshly grated cheese and plenty of olive oil.
appellation: Île de Beauté (Corsica), France
grape varieties: grenache, carignan
The Courrèges family farms 28 hectares on Corsica’s granitic western coast, in the Ajaccio appellation, so named for its proximity to the island’s regional capital. Roger Courrèges established the estate in 1962, after moving to the island from Algeria, where his father and grandfather made wine. Roger’s son Alain took over the estate when his father died in an accident in 1974. Alain’s son Gérard shares the workload. The estate has 28 hectares in all, planted to native varieties sciacarello and vermentino, as well as grenache, cinsault, and carignan. Although not certified yet, the family has been farming organically since 2008. This rosé, whose name translates to “Good Heavens!”, is exuberant and zesty, with strawberry fruit and a healthy dose of Corsican herbaceousness. As you probably know by now, rosés are delightfully versatile with foods, so if you feel like cranking up the volume on spice, this rise will rise to the occasion.
appellation: Côtes du Forez, France
grape varieties: gamay de bouze, gamay noir
If you follow the Loire river backwards out of the valley, and south, before it makes its westward turn towards the Atlantic, you will come to the tiny appellation of Côtes du Forez, which sits just west of Beaujolais. With just 160 hectares of vines, and only 10 producers in the entire region including the local co-op, its obscurity should come as no surprise. The region is unique in France because of its numerous extinct volcanoes, pushed up by the Alps along a fault line here in the Tertiary Era. The soil left by these ancient volcanoes is rich in granite and basalt – perfect for growing gamay. Gilles Bonnefoy purchased an 8 hectare estate nestled between two of these volcanoes in 1997, and worked to receive organic and Demeter biodynamic certification in 2008. This red is our introduction to gamay de bouze, which is a rare teinturier: a grape that is both dark-skinned and dark-fleshed. This blend of gamay de bouze and the far more typical gamay noir creates an almost misleadingly inky dark wine in the glass, but the palate is fresh and full of high-toned gamay fruit, with a racy, aromatic, mineral finish that clearly reflects the volcanic influence. This is a red for the first cool nights of late summer. Pair with roasted chicken and waxy fingerling potatoes with plenty of fresh herbs.
appellation: Vin de France (Rhone), France
grape varieties: grenache, carignan, syrah, oeillade, aramon
Adrien Roustan named his small southern Rhone estate for the Greek god Ourea, god of mountains and heights, and son of Gaia, Mother Earth. It’s an apt name, given that his vines are planted quite high up the hillsides in the Gigondas and Vacqueyras appellations. Adrien established the estate with his mother in 2010, and in that short time has made a name for himself in the Rhone, producing reds of great finesse. He has 18 hectares in total, 4.5 in Gigondas, 9 in Vacqueyras, and another 4.5 that are AOC Rhone, all certified organic since 2012. “Tire Bouchon” is the French word for corkscrew, a friendly name for an immediately friendly wine. This cuvée is 50% grenache, 20% carignan, 10% syrah, and 10% each of aramon and the nearly extinct oeillade. This is a casual drinking wine that’s juicy and dark, with pleasant body that is neither overly extracted nor tannic, but rather lively and approachable.
appellation: Oltrepo Pavese (Lombardy), Italy
grape variety: bonarda
Antonella and Raimondo founded their small winery in the Oltrepo Pavese in the southern part of Lombardy in 1991, after leaving tech jobs in Milan. The farm is named after their two cats, Martina and Matilde – whose painted faces grace a number of the wine labels. Most of their 15 hectares is dedicated to bonarda, also known as croatina, which is native to their Roviscala commune. They also grow barbera, pinot noir, malvasia, and riesling italico. They make a handful of wines, the younger wines always done in stainless steel and only “aged” wines seeing any oak. This cuvée is fermented and aged in stainless steel before being bottled in the spring. It shows all of bonarda’s inky color and substantial body, but balanced with lively dark-berried acidity. Try this with balsamic marinated flank steak, or lamb burgers.