Gilbert Cellars: Through a Vertical Lens



By Kori ~ September 12th, 2011.

Gilbert Cellars is a family-owned winery located near Wiley City in the Ahtanum Valley west of Yakima, Washington. The Gilberts are veterans when it comes to producing high-quality fruit. The Gilbert family has been in the tree-fruit business since 1897. The majority of the grapes used in their wines come from their Doc Stewart Estate Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA near Mattawa, which they purchased in 2002. This vineyard has proven to be an excellent place to ripen the great red varieties of Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley of France. They also source grapes from 24K Vineyard in Mattawa, Sunrise Vineyard in Yakima, and Chukar Vineyard near Kennewick.

We first met Sean Gilbert, one of the founders of Gilbert Cellars, in 2008 at a tasting at Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle. Sean was the driving force behind getting the Gilbert family into the wine business. We have been impressed with their wines since that first tasting and have followed their subsequent releases closely.

Recently, we had the opportunity to enjoy vertical tastings of three Gilbert Cellars’ wines, their Syrah, Allobroges (a Rhone-style red blend), and Cabernet Sauvignon. We had tasted each of these wines upon release but were glad to have the opportunity to taste each vintage that Gilbert Cellars has produced side by side. While our tastings are usually blind, we decided not to taste these blind. We simply wanted to enjoy the wines and taste them in a logical order. We tasted each vertical separately, and Mom (LaGayle) prepared a meal to pair with each variety/style. In each tasting, we started with the oldest wine and worked our way to the youngest.

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality of their wines across the board in these vertical tastings. While their first vintages are holding up well, I believe that their wines are getting better with each vintage. Head winemaker Justin Neufeld joined Gilbert Cellars in 2007, and he seems to have taken their wines to the next level.

Gilbert Cellars has a fabulous tasting room in downtown Yakima that opened in 2008. In addition to offering tastings, they offer their wines for purchase by the bottle or the glass as well as lighter fare to enjoy in their beautifully appointed wine bar and lounge atmosphere. They also offer live music on some nights. It is a popular spot in Yakima, for tourists and locals alike. If you are in Yakima, be sure to stop by the Gilbert Cellars tasting room to sample their wines or to enjoy a glass with a friend. And regardless of whether you are able to visit or not, be sure to try some Gilbert wines.

SYRAH

2005 Gilbert Cellars Syrah (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Dark, dense purple, almost black. Aromatic with strawberry, blackberry, leather, earth, and cinnamon on the nose. Black plum, leather, licorice, and blueberry come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with medium to high tannins and a long finish. Drink now.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $26

2006 Gilbert Cellars Syrah (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Nice nose with eucalyptus, black plum, black pepper, and cinnamon aromas. Blackberry, black plum, cinnamon, and earth on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $26

2007 Gilbert Cellars Estate Syrah (Doc Stewart Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Aromatic with black fruit, earth, and mint on the nose. Fruit-forward with black cherry, blackberry, black plum, and cinnamon on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $24

2008 Gilbert Cellars Syrah (Doc Stewart Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark purple. Gorgeous nose with aromas of black plum, cinnamon, game, and hay. Black plum, blackberry, cinnamon, game, and earth come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $24

ALLOBROGES

2006 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges (Columbia Valley, Washington): 60% Syrah, 22% Grenache, and 18% Mourvedre. Deep, dark purple. Aromatic with smoke, black cherry, and red cherry on the nose. More smoke, black and red cherry, and a hint of beef jerky come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium tannins and a medium to long finish. Drink now.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $24

2007 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges (Columbia Valley, Washington): 55% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, and 14% Grenache. Deep purplish red. Nice nose with black and red cherry and spice aromas. Black and red cherry, spice, and a hint of cocoa come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $20

2008 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges (Columbia Valley, Washington): 62% Syrah, 23% Mourvedre, and 15% Grenache. Deep, dark purple. Aromatic with Red Vines and floral notes on the nose. More Red Vines and floral notes as well as black and red cherry come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $22

CABERNET SAUVIGNON

2005 Gilbert Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark garnet red. Nice nose with chocolate, black cherry, and game aromas. Black cherry, licorice, and coffee on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium tannins and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $26

2006 Gilbert Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep red. Black cherry and spice on the nose; black cherry, spice, and black plum on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and lively with medium to high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $26

2007 Gilbert Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Very aromatic with black cherry, blackberry, and floral notes on the nose. Black cherry, blackberry, pencil lead, and licorice come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with high, dry tannins. Well-balanced and good complexity with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $28

2008 Gilbert Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, dark purplish red. Aromatic with black cherry, spice, and floral notes on the nose. Jammy red and black fruits and beef jerky come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied and smooth with medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, winery release $28


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

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