Two 2011s from Animale

Hello friends. Today we have two single-vineyard wines (from varieties not so frequently bottled on their own in Washington) from one of our favorite boutique wineries: Animale.

Matt Gubitosa is the winemaker here, and Animale is honestly more nano-boutique than boutique, shoehorned into the basement of Matt’s Ballard home. He has a day job with the EPA, and after years of home winemaking, he started Animale in 2001 by convincing a group of wine enthusiasts to fund his startup costs by investing in futures (like Kickstarter before Kickstarter). They paid Matt cash up front for the rights to the first five vintages of Animale wines, and most of them re-upped when their initial term expired in 2007.

Matt’s case production is constrained by the size of his basement, which can hold about 8 barrels. That translates to 200 cases each year, and the lineup varies, according to what fruit Matt likes best in a given vintage. Today we have two of his 2011s, both from McIntire Vineyard:

2011 Animale Petite Sirah

This is a wine that has been around since the beginning of Full Pull’s existence. We offered the 2007 vintage during our third week in business, then followed it up with the 08, 09, and 10 in subsequent years. And today we have the 2011, marking the fifth year in our burgeoning vertical of a unique Washington wine.

I think of Petite Sirah as the flagship wine for Animale, if a flagship wine can have a production level of a few barrels. Matt’s house style is, in many ways, a love affair with grape-skin tannins, and his attraction to Petite Sirah begins there. It is a grape with tiny berries and a naturally high skin-to-juice ratio; perfect for Matt’s style.

The only problem was that very little Petite Sirah is planted in Washington (the grape has a cult following in California). Matt solved that by partnering with the McIntire family to plant PS in the Yakima Valley (location here). It is just over half an acre of rocky soil that accumulates enough heat to please thermophilic Petite Sirah.

Even in a cool year like 2011, this clocks in at 14.9% listed alc, plenty ripe. And my oh my the structure. This is the palate-crusher, the beautiful destroyer of worlds, the dark-hearted beast. It begins with a deep dark nose of brambly black fruit, a mix of cracked peppercorns, and savory tomato leaf. The palate is just massive, beginning with a swirling stew of ripe blackcurrant fruit and savories like beef stock and tomato paste, and then rolling into a finish awash in the most delicious grapeskin tannins, toothsome and redolent of earl gray tea. A PS like this is such a slam dunk for Cabernet lovers. It has similar structure, sharing Cab’s ability via tannin to strip the palate of the fats/lipids that accumulate over the course of, say, a ribeye steak dinner, making each bite of steak taste, well, steakier than it would have otherwise. But the flavors are just different enough from Cab to add extra intrigue.

2011 Animale Cabernet Franc

Matt’s Cabernet Franc also comes from McIntire, and because Weinbau Vineyard dominates so many of the Cab Francs coming out of Washington, I’m always extra interested to taste examples from elsewhere. Matt is kind of a Loire Valley freak, so no surprise this shares some of the aspects of a nice Saumur. The nose has that Franc magic that somehow combines notes both earthy and floral. The palate possesses lovely floral inner-mouth perfume, lifting a core of dense black fruit and poblano pepper. It’s a palate-stainer, and it’s all glorious Franc fruit intensity. I found myself easily seduced, thoroughly enjoying how this shows off the terroir of this particular patch of Washington through the prism of Cab Franc.

Please limit order requests to 6 bottles of each wine, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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