It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere

FB Wine OclockIf you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, or if you have a look at the Wine O’Clock tab on this blog, you will see that my motto is “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”

It’s been my motto for about five or more years. In fact, you can also find this Write for Wine blog at

I initially heard the phrase from Peter, a London friend and colleague. Every Friday, at 5:30 p.m. in London, Peter would tell me that it’s wine o’clock. In Seattle, it was the beginning of the day. So I decided to add “somewhere” to Peter’s phrase and adopted it as my own.

And the phrase “It’s wine o’clock somewhere” never fails to inspire creative responses from other wine enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter.

One tweet – to my surprise and delight – flagged that a Wine O’Clock Wine Bar is in Prosser in central Washington. So of course we made a special trip to the Wine O’Clock Wine Bar when we visited Prosser at the end of September. Unfortunately, the wine bar was closed. But as you can see, we took photos by the sign! 

So thank you, Peter, and cheers! It’s wine o’clock somewhere!

Cab Franc from Gilbert Cellars

We recently stopped by Gilbert Cellars in Yakima, where we tasted a pre-release of one of the best Cab Francs we’ve ever experienced in Washington state. We also loved the pre-release of the 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these excellent wines will be released in mid-October.

The 2007 Cab Franc comes from grapes that were planted in the mid-1980s at Indian Wells Vineyard. Words can’t describe how amazing this wine tastes. The same goes for the 2007 Estate Cab. I’ve written favorably about previous vintages, but this new release supercedes them all.

While we were there, Sean Gilbert and his team were notified that they won “Best Tasting Room in Yakima Valley” from the Yakima Valley Times. We were not surprised – in the year since our last visit to the inviting tasting room, the wine list has grown, as has the menu. And Gilbert Cellars’ tasting room recently was featured in Wines and Vines.

Indeed, Gilbert Cellars has been in the news a lot lately, so it also wasn’t surprising to find out that in 2008, they had more than doubled their production from 2006. And while Cab Franc and Cab Sauv were our favorites, followed by 2006 Claret, Gilbert Cellars has also won rave reviews for its 2006 Malbec and 2006 Syrah.

Stop by if you are anywhere near Yakima – and if you’re in the Seattle area, seek them out at wine events – they’re at many of them!


Airfield Estates: Not Your Simple Merlot

We always have a wonderful time when we visit Airfield Estates and our recent stop at the Prosser winery was no exception. Winemaker and General Manager Marcus Miller and Amy Sonnichsen, assistant general manager, gave us a tour of the winery, where we saw grapes just harvested and others fermenting.

We also tasted several good wines – including the new release of Airfield’s very popular signature blend 2008 Bombshell Red ($16), 2007 Syrah, and the Reserve Cab. But our favorite – and I wish we had purchased more! – was the 2007 Merlot ($22).

As the bottle and tasting notes state, “this is not your ‘simple’ Merlot.” Indeed, this is one of the most complex Merlots we’ve ever tasted. We were not suprised to hear that it was awarded an “Outstanding” at the Seattle Wine awards.

We always enjoy the sights at Airfield Estates – located on a World War II airbase — including this airplane made of wine barrels and a chandelier of wine glasses. Airfield Estates has a fascinating history and stories to share – coupled with good wine and good people, it’s a must-visit on any trip to Prosser.

Barrel Planewineglass chandelier


Alexandria Nicole Cellars Harvest Party

Alexandria Nicole Cellars knows how to party! The winery’s Ring in the Harvest party on Sept. 26 was held at ANC’s Destiny Ridge Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills, and we enjoyed every second of it, along with about 400 other people.

That’s because ANC knows how to put on a party. This event was so well planned – from the special hotel rate at the Marriott in Richland, to the party buses to take us on the 45-minute drive to the vineyard, to the steak-and-lobster dinner (yes, steak and lobster for 400 people!), two bands, and let’s not forget the incredible wines, a skeet-shooting contest, grape stomping and much much more.

The party also marked the release of ANC’s 2007 “Mr. Big” Petite Sirah. Regular readers of Write for Wine know that we are big fans of Jarrod Boyle’s wines, and Mr. Big just might top the list. We’re not alone in praise for “Mr. Big.” Here’s how Paul Gregutt described it in his PG blog:

It’s rare to find petite sirah in Washington, but lovers of the grape will want to snag a bottle of Mr. Big. Very dark and concentrated, it wraps its fruit-powered flavors in sweet baking spices. Big and brawny as it is, it does not seem aggressively tannic, and the sweet barrel flavors – vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar – cut through and surround the round, ripe fruit.

Also in agreement about “Mr. Big” were the wonderful people at our table at the Harvest party. We had such a great time meeting Martha, Carolyn, Jonathan, Stephen, Sandy, Mark, Patty and more!

The Harvest Party was just one of many wine club events held by Alexandria Nicole Cellars. If you’re thinking about joining a wine club that’s in both Prosser or Woodinville, be sure to check out ANC’s wine club.


Mark November for Primitivo from Senoj Estates

Be sure to head to Senoj Estates in November for the release of 2007 Primitivo – we had a pre-release bottle last night and wow, we will definitely go back to Woodinville for more. Primitivo is the genetic twin of Zinfindel, and it’s becoming more and more popular in Washington state. And Senoj winemaker Jeff Jones has made the best bottle that we have tasted so far.

Perhaps it’s because 4% Cabernet Sauvignon was used to shore up the back end of the 96% Primitivo. Or maybe because Jones (whose name spelled backward is Senoj) uses a subtle style to create wines that pair very well with food. (Dave made his delicious spaghetti to pair with Senoj Primitivo last night.)

The winery’s tasting notes describe it best: From Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, our Primitivo is a bold and boisterous wine, loud and proud. The Primitivo provides blackberry and pepper highlights on the nose, while a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon gives rise to a smooth middle palate and tasteful tannic finish. This wine is deep, drinkable, and delicious.

We’ve always been fans of Senoj’s medium-bodied Passport, which is a right-bank-influenced Bordeaux-style blend — 70% Merlot blended with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petite Verdot. Senoj also recently released a 2008 Viognier that has a rounded mouthfeel; and a Carmeniere, a close cousin to Merlot, will be available in 2010.

Senoj reopened its tasting room this summer in the Woodinville warehouse district. Check out the new wine lounge, which includes a 120″ LCD projection screen, high-def televisions, ping pong tables and dart boards.