2015 ANIMALE, Petite Sirah, Reserve — Matt Gubitosa has been making wine in his home-based winery in Ballard since 1991. His production is barely 200 cases a year, making ANIMALE truly a micro winery. With two degrees in geology, Matt has an especially keen understating of vineyard dynamics and, working with select growers in the state, he is able to find the best fruit possible to achieve the complexity he seeks in his wines. Petite Sirah is known for producing dark, flavorful, full-bodied wines with good tannins. This one, from the very warm 2015 vintage, was aged 80% in neutral French oak for ten months. It is dark and aromatic, with great body and structure, hints of freshly-baked fruit pastry, and flavors of ripe plums and dried cherries. Try it with grilled Portobello mushrooms or chicken with mole sauce. $26.
2016 Ashton Troy, Cuvée du Soleil — We’ve loved the wines from Lauren Ashton for years and have featured a number of them in our Washington Club. The winery was founded by Kit Singh in Woodinville in 2009 and bears the name of his two children, Lauren and Ashton. We just discovered Kit has created another, more affordable line also named for Ashton, who “wanted his own label.” The wines represent the same meticulous and skillful winemaking as Kit’s higher end offerings. He describes them as playful and full of energy and warmth—like his son. This one is a Bordeaux-style white blend of 45% Sauvignon Blanc and 55% Semillon. It has inviting flavors of citrus and stone fruit and a nice balance of the fresh crispness of the Sauv Blanc and the fuller-bodied Semillon. $19.75
2017 Matua, Pinot Noir — Brothers Ross and Bill Spence came from a long line of New Zealand winemakers. They bought their vineyard on Matua Road in Auckland in 1966. They eventually founded Matua Winery and, in 1974 produced New Zealand’s first Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that has since become synonymous with the country. The winery grew steadily, eventually moving to Marlborough, at the northeast tip of the South Island, and eventually it was bought by a larger company. Today Matua produces wines from a wide range of grapes and regions, including this Marlborough Pinot Noir. It is sourced from various parcels to maximize the expression of the local terroir and is bright and fresh, with savory layers of red fruit and bramble flavors, inviting texture, and a touch of toasty spice from a bit of oak aging. $12
2018 Monte Xanic, Chenin/Colombard — After putting two wines from Mexico in recent clubs, we had our first ever Mexican tasting in April and one thing’s for sure: our customers love Mexican wines! So here’s another one, which was the most popular wine from that tasting. It comes from Valle de Guadalupe, in the northern Baja region and is made by Monte Xanic, founded in 1988 as Mexico’s first “boutique winery.” It has grown since then but is still considered boutique by Mexican standards. This crisp, aromatic white is mostly Chenin Blanc, blended with 2% Colombard, a French white grape often used for blending, especially in Cognac and Armagnac. It is brimming with flavors of citrus and exotic fruit, with notes of white flowers and spice and fresh acidity. Perfect for ceviche, sushi, or light-flavored fish dishes. $17
2017 Bodegueros Quintaesencia, Silbon Toro — This wine comes from Toro in northwest Spain, a high-altitude region (around 2,000 to 2,800 feet) with particularly harsh growing conditions. The principal grape that thrives there is Tinta de Toro, aka Tempranillo. A relatively young winery, Quintaesencia was founded in 2006 by Ramiro Carbajo, who had worked with many top wineries over the years along with his friend, Florentino Ferrin. With their vast experience, knowledge of their local soils, and passion to create amazing, terroir-driven wines, they set out to produce the wines of their dreams. This one comes from vines ranging from 27 to 44 years in age and is lush and dark, with notes of ripe black fruit, spice, and minerals. With firm, structured tannins, it’s a great partner for cured meats, roast lamb or pork, or tacos. $18
2018 Domaine Verdier-Logel, Côtes du Forez, Cuvée des Gourmets — Côtes du Forez is a small, relatively obscure appellation in the uppermost reaches of the Loire, which, due to a sharp bend in the river, puts the region just west of Lyons, far south of the Loire Valley. It produces only red and Rosé wines, made from 100% Gamay. This is the foothills of the Massif Central and the soils are mostly granite and volcanic, giving the wines their signature minerality. In a region of mostly cooperatives, Verdier-Logel is a family operation, farming organically and producing separate wines from each soil type. This one, grown on granite soil, has all the bright fruitiness and minerality of the Gamay grape (think Beaujolais), but with added texture and depth and a bit of earth. Light, but smooth and full of fruit flavor, it’s a great summer wine, on its own (try it chilled!) or with roast chicken, grilled lamb, or a nice picnic. $17