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!
2015 Domaine Les Grands Bois Viognier appellation: Cotes du Rhone, France grape variety: viognier Marc Besnardeau was a sommelier in Paris before falling in love and marrying Mireille Farjon and moving to the southern Rhone Valley to make wine on her family’s estate. Their 10 hectare estate is tucked in the hills just outside the village of Cairanne, with tiny parcels scattered across the neighboring hills. Marc makes his wines with the same mindset with which he selected them for a menu: with minimal intervention, and attention to each cuvée’s terroir-specific personality. This bottling of viognier is remarkably fresh, with typical plump weight and fantastic mineral texture, making it a great pair for creamier dishes, or semi-soft cheeses.
Matias Michelini is the winemaker at Via Revolucionara in Tupungato, Mendoza, on Argentina’s eastern border. Michelini works with grapes from various vineyards sites in both Argentina and Chile to create individual, experimental wines that go against the expectations of what South American wine can be. This is his carbonic macerated bonarda from a single vineyard site in Mendoza. Bonarda can be a confusing monicker, incorrectly applied to various reds in northern Italy - but the “bonarda” grown in South America is actually 100% douce noir (called “charbono” in california), a grape originally from the Savoie, in eastern France. It is has occasionally been mistakenly (or intentionally) labeled as Argentina’s more well-known malbec, though it typically possesses somewhat higher toned fruit and acidity. The soft crush helps keep this red extra lively and light on its feet. Chill it, chug it, with or without food - Olé!
2015 Mas de Libian Bout d'Zan appellation: Cotes du Rhone, France grape varieties: grenache, syrah On their family’s 5-centuries-old estate, Mas de Libian was born in 1970 when Jean-Pierre Thibon took over from his parents and produced his first vintage of wine. The following three generations continue his work, and his daughter Hélène is now the face of the domaine. The family tends 25 hectares of vines, certified biodynamic since 2005, in Saint Marcel d’Ardèche in the western hills of the rhone valley. This cuvée gets its name from “zan”, the French word for a liquorice sweet, and Hélènes father’s nickname as a child. It is made of 75% grenache and 25% syrah, fermented in concrete, with a small portion aged in barrel. Concentrated and intense, but never clunky or heavy mid-palate, this berry-driven red is an excellent complement to full-flavored Mediterranean dishes like chicken thighs cooked with lemons and olives, or grilled lamb.
Luigi and Raffaella Maffini organically farm 15 hectares of vines in Cilento, a coastal area south of Naples, in a region protected both by National Park designation and Unesco World Heritage Status. They grow just just two grapes, fiano for their white wine, and aglianico for their red. Their aglianico is grown in the Paestum DOC, in the hills inland from the coast, and is named for the famous Greco-Roman ruins here. It is believed that aglianico was brought by the Greeks to the Amalfi coast, and was the main grape in the popular Roman falernian wine. The Maffini’s aglianico is fermented in stainless steel and aged in large oak barrels. It is supple and dark, with plenty of characteristic chewy berry and spice, and finely textured tannins. Drink this when the temperature starts to dip down into real “autumnal” numbers.
2014 Farmstrong Red appellation: California grape varieties: carignan, zinfandel, syrah Farmstrong is the second project of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster, the winemaker behind Onward Wines. While her Onward label wines are dedicated to single vineyard, single-variety bottlings, Faith uses her Farmstrong label to create fun, classic California blends that highlight some of the state's viticultural history through the old-vine, dry-farmed parcels she works with. The Farmstrong red is made with dry-farmed old-vine carignan, zinfandel, and syrah from four different farms. The grapes are fermented separately and aged in French barrels before blending and further aging in barrel. According to Faith, the vineyard sites and their strong diurnal temperature fluxes help lock in ripeness and fruit but maintain acidity and elegance in the grapes, resulting in a red that is bright and balanced.