June 2014

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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!


2013 Xarmant Txakolina

appellation: Arabako Txakolina, ES
grape varieties: hondarribi zurri, hondarribi beltza, hondarribi zuri zerratia, izkiriota, izkiriota ttippia

Welcome to Basque country! The land stretching west along the Atlantic from San Sebastian is home to a long winemaking history. It has been established that the grape varieties made famous in Bordeaux have Basque origins, with the grape hondarribi beltza bearing very close genetic resemblance to cabernet franc. There is only one producer in Arabako today producing any real quantities. This winery, whose name is the same as the denomination, Arabako Txakolina (also known as Xarmant), was founded in 1989. Twelve growers decided to pool their resources and establish the denomination. They named the wine they created Xarmant: "charming" in French, and a fitting reflection of its nature. The wine is fermented in stainless steel, and only indigenous yeasts are used so that the grapes reflect the true qualities of the unique soil and site. In accordance with the style in this part of the Basque Country, Xarmant is bottled with less residual carbon dioxide than most txakolinas. Bring anything salty or fried to the table for this ultra-quencher.


2013 Jean Perrier et Fils Apremont "Cuvée Gastronomie"

appellation: Savoie, FR
grape variety: jacquère

Largely because of the immense tourist industry in Savoie, its international reputation as a wine-producing region has been slow to take on. A spray of vineyards descending from the Swiss Alps to the town of Chambéry (famous for its vermouth) is mostly planted to white grapes, and mostly to jacquère, the noble native grape variety. Favored for its high production, the grape is well-suited to the calcareous mountainside soils, resulting in light, fragrant whites with limitless drinkability. Jean Perrier began commercial activity in 1953, and his grandsons share operations today. Try it with the year's first pesto.


2011 Belle Pente "Belle Oiseau"

appellation: Willamette Valley, Oregon
grape varieties: riesling, pinot gris, muscat

Jill and Brian O'Donnell fled the Silicon Valley for what is now the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1992, and quickly began work to establish a winery. The Belle Pente (beautiful slope in French) vineyard was planted in 1994 to varieties used in Alsace and Burgundy, from which a great deal of inspiration is taken in the winemaking philosophy. "Belle Oiseau" is in its second year of bottling, initially made as a keg-only release in collaboration with Little Bird Bistro in Portland. It's a take on the edelzwicker, the "noble blend" most Alsatian producers at least in small quantities for table wine. A great aperitif, we also suggest investigating the wide world of Alsatian cuisine for pairing inspirations.


Il Civettaio "Chiù"

appellation: Maremma Toscana, IT
grape varieties: sangiovese, alicante

Il Civettaio is a winery and agriturismo (...planning a trip to Tuscany?) on the Tuscan coast. They farm organically certified vineyards in the appellations of Maremma and Montecucco. Here we have a rosato of mostly sangiovese with a drop of alicante. A bit richer than your average Provençal, we'd serve this with panzanella, puttanesca, or pizza.


2011 Elian Da Ros "Le Vin est une Fête"

appellation: Côtes-du-Marmandais, FR
grape varieties: merlot, abouriou, cabernet franc

Elian Da Ros cut his teeth at the famous Zind-Humbrecht estate in Alsace before moving back to his home in Cocumont, just east of Bordeaux. He applied the lessons he learned at Z-H in biodynamics to his Bordelais vines, and to the local specialty, abouriou, which he calls the gamay of the Southwest. Great wines are those where you can feel the sentiment of the producer in the glass. The name of this wine: "Le Vin est une Fête" or  "wine is a party", shows you where Elian's feelings truly lie, and the wine is certainly a match.


2011 Mas du Colombel (Famille Chabbert)

appellation: Faugères, Languedoc, FR
grape varieties: syrah, grenache

As stated in Jancis Robinson's Oxford Guide to Wine, Faugères is a "reliable appellation in the Languedoc in southern France." Rarely does Faugères try to impress -- it's job is to satisfy and to accompany the meal. Here we have an aptly modest producer in the tiny, ancient village of Caussiniojouls (145 inhabitants). It's a blend of syrah and grenache, varieties favored these days over the traditional carignan, and fermented traditionally. Sturdy and strong, if maybe a bit simple, it's the perfect red to wash down the ubiquitous summertime hamburgers and barbecue.