Gilbert Cellars in Yakima produce fine wine, tasty snacks

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 20, 2013 

I've been following Gilbert Cellars for several years and can honestly say they seem to get better every time I visit.

The tasting room is in the heart of historic downtown Yakima, in a refurbished building that was originally constructed near the turn of the century (the 20th century, not the most recent one).

The "Gilbert" of Gilbert Cellars is the Gilbert family, whose farming roots span five generations. Although I love my fruits and vegetables, I'm glad the most recent generation decided to try their hand at producing wines in 2004.

There's a lot to choose from among the winery's current releases. Here are my favorites:

Distinctively different but equally noteworthy are the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay (about $20), with green pear flavors and a touch of herbaceousness reminiscent of a Semillon; and the 2011 Chardonnay (about $24), with a whisper of buttery oak on the nose and gentle flavors of lemon meringue and chiffon.

The 2012 Gewürztraminer (about $17) displays the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness, with lychee aromas, lemon drop flavors and a slightly spicy finish.

Then take the gewürztraminer times two and you've got the 2012 Riesling (about $20). It's floral and fruity, with lip-smacking, laser-like acidity and a lingering finish of subtle honeycomb. A stunning effort.

A blend of syrah, mourvedre and grenache, the 2010 Allobroges (about $22) is a lean, food-friendly red with minimalist flavors of red currant, dried cherry and a touch of sage.

A sensual delight, the 2010 Syrah (about $24) offers a lovely fragrance of burnt sugar and toasted pecan, sun-dried tomato and smoky blackberry on the palate, and a bit of an assertive finish.

Even better is the 2010 Cabernet Franc (about $32), with black plum aromatics and flavors structured with dense tannins and a memorable lingering note of raisin toast on the extreme finish.

To finish, the 2009 Tempranillo Dessert Wine (about $26) is an affordable, port-like choice with elegant dark fruits throughout, without the high-alcohol or high-sugar taste.

Also, be sure to check out the ever-changing menu of cheese plates and noshes on hand. Both the chicken liver mousse paté and house-made hummus and olive tapenades are to die for.

Then couple your visit to Gilbert with a stop at nearby tasting rooms for AntoLin Cellars, Lookout Point Winery and Kana Winery. They're all within walking distance of each other and together provide an enjoyable wine tasting adventure in downtown Yakima.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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