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: Rheinhessen, Germany
grape variety: silvaner
The Spiess family has been farming in Bechtheim since 1509. For most of those years the family’s estate grew produce and raised livestock, with wine only one of the many products it produced. The family embarked on fine winemaking only a generation ago, when Jürgen Spiess and his wife Ute began to concentrate just on grapes. Yet the Spiess-family have never lost sight of the lessons learnt from five centuries of working the land: respect for family, nature and the power of hard work. The growing success of the newer generation is, in their own words, built on the heroic work of their parents. After apprenticing at the renowned Weingut Keller, Johannes Spiess assumed responsibility for the cellar in 2011; his brother Christian subsequently took control in the vineyard and for sales three years later, after apprenticing at Weingut Wagner-Stempel. The Spiess family proudly cultivates 32 ha of south-facing Bechtheimer vineyards in Rheinhessen’s warm, fertile southern basin. Primary flavors for their silvaner start somewhere between midsummer cucumber and watermelon rind, with plenty of juice and snap to balance. We've heard this works with Mexican food? We like Mexican food.
appellation: Vinho Verde, Portugal
grape varieties: loureiro, alvarinho
Maria Papoila is a fervent reminder of the upper limits for quality in northern Portuguese white wine. Produced by Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas, an estate in the Vinho Verde region run by João Silva e Sousa and Francisco Baptista, and named after a pre-WWII propaganda film extolling the virtues of rural life over urbane, we find in this wine the marks of great farming -- loads of acidity, excellent balance, and above all, the expression of place. Far from what's become the brand of Vinho Verde, namely bland, force-carbonated, uninteresting and explicitly not unpleasant white wine, here we have something closer to the great wines of the nearly abutting Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, or a bit further up the coast, the Loire. Try this with fried seafood or seared scallops.
appellation: Niederösterreich, Austria
grape varieties: zweigelt, syrah, merlot
appellation: Beaujolais, France
grape variety: gamay
François and Marie-Therèse Subrin farm 5 hectares of land in the village of Sarcy, a village situated on a high plateau in the southwestern corner of the Beaujolais appellation. They farm organically, and and since 2008 have begun adopting many of the principles of biodynamics. To insure maximum health and ripeness for their grapes, they severely limit the yields and are willing to harvest late into the growing season. Their vines are planted on granite soils with significant deposits of quartz and feldspar- such mineral rich soil yields verve-y wines with brilliant texture. This is Beaujolais at its best, friendly with all sorts of food, or with none at all! Try serving with a slight chill for one of these early spring evenings.
appellation: Bourgueil (Loire), France
grape varieties: cabernet franc
Pierre Guyot established this estate in 1869 with his son-in-law Jules Lamé, who was the first in the region to graft non-phylloxera vines in the 1870’s. Fast forward five generations, siblings Phillipe and Stephanie now manage the family's property in Bourgeuil, exploring all the possibilities for the production of cabernet franc. The various cuvées are divided along soil types - all fruit grown on gravel is vinified in stainless steel to preserve its fruitiness and soft tannins, while the fruit grown on clay/limestone soils is reserved for barrel vinification to extract more tannins. This cuvée is from the former, and is delightfully fruity and bright - a true bistro wine. Pair with roasted chicken and spring potatoes, or a nice hunk of aged goat’s milk cheese.
appellation: Barbera d'Alba (Piedmont), Italy
grape variety: barbera
Castello di Neive is an old-school Piemontese producer, still run by its founding family, the Stupinos. They are best known for their very traditional Barbarescos, though they make very good barbera, dolcetto, and a lovely grignolino previously featured here. We were pleased to find a good deal on their top barbera, sourced from the Marcorino vineyard, and aged for a year in French barriques. Made only in the best years, and designed for moderate aging, the 2013 is in a really good place right now, especially after a good decant (or just waiting until the day after it's opened). Still brimming with barbera's typical cherry-dominant red fruit, once it opens we found a range of spices and a hint of fresh fennel. We suggest polenta with rabbit or cabbage and mushrooms as suitable pairings. Or pizza.