Tag Archive | Tsillan Cellars

Chelan Beginnings – Day 1

At the end of September, I had a conference over in Chelan, Washington.  I headed over with my coworkers on Tuesday, and attended the conference session from Wednesday through noon Friday.  Jon then took Saturday off from work and drove over Friday after he finished work to meet me.  Chelan is east of the Cascade mountains in Washington and typically gets hotter drier weather than we do in Western Washington.  This year the temperatures were nice, but not overly warm.  I could walk around in a skirt and t-shirt and be quite comfortable – which typically isn’t the case at the end of September at home.  But sadly, there wasn’t much sun to be found.  Because even though the sun was up there in the sky, it was obscured by the thick smoke in the air from the nearby wildfires.

Friday after Jon arrived, we spent the afternoon wandering around the shops in the downtown business area.  Chelan has about 3500 year round residents, and the population balloons by several thousand during the summer.  But with the season winding down, and the heavy smoke in the air, it was certainly less busy than I think it would usually be.  After wandering around and checking out the shops, we decided to head out to Tsillan Cellars to go do a wine tasting.  I had their Sinistra wine a few years ago, and it is one of my favorites – but I hadn’t tried any of their other wines for a couple of years.

Tsillan is on the main drag just outside of town – up on a slope overlooking the lake (although you couldn’t see down to the lake because of the smoke).  They grow some of their own grapes, and some they truck in from the Yakima Valley.  For a $5 tasting fee, you can sample five wines (they did pour us a sixth though).  Jon and I shared a flight, and we started with the 2009 Estate Chardonnay.  This Chardonnay had a nice light butter flavor, but without being too heavily oaked.  It was one that we could both agree on.

Tsillan Cellars Tasting Room and Restaurant

Their 2009 Estate Riesling was very floral at first taste, but then settled into a rich pear flavor with the taste of vanilla.  It was a drink now wine.  The 2011 Bocciolo di Rosa was a light Syrah based Rosé with flavors of honeydew melon.  It had a light sweetness, and did not have much acidity.

The 2009 Bellissima Rossa is a Syrah Merlot blend, with big structured tannins and flavors of smoke and caramel.  The 2009 Reserve Syrah had even bigger tannins, and tasted of brown sugar, ripe cherry and lots of prune.  I liked the wines more than the reds at Tsillan, with the exception of the Sinistra that I love so much, but sadly it is sold out for the season!

Tsillan Cellars Tasting Room

After the winery, we pondered what to do about dinner.  Tsillan Cellars has a large Italian restaurant at the winery, but neither of us felt like eating heavy Italian food.  We decided to head back to the hotel and walk somewhere downtown.  We asked around for some other suggestions, and everybody kept recommending Local Myth Pizza.  It is apparently the best pizza ever – based on the numbers of rave reviews I have heard!  I’m convinced that these pizza place owners are true geniuses and are paying people off for the recommendations, because to be honest, I had their pizza a few days before and just was not that impressed.  It was one where you had to blot the oil off the top before you could eat it – with the New York style flat crust.  Jon is not a fan of heavy, greasy foods on his best days, so I knew there would be no way he would like it.

We decided to go to a place that served burgers and salads called BC MacDonald’s.  We both had salads that were nice and big, and Jon had a glass of wine.  My iced tea was good too.  The ambience was not great – there were two men in the bar arguing loudly, but the server was fast and attentive and we both left satisfied with our meals.  But the reviews on BC MacDonald’s are mixed, so I could easily see having a much worse experience than we did.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and relaxed with some wine and TV watching.  Vacation is the life!

Sinistra – the Leftist Wine

Tonight I’m enjoying a glass of Sinistra, a wine produced by Tsillan Cellars in Lake Chelan, Washington.  I discovered this blend of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera when I visited Chelan last fall for a work conference.  Since then, I have purchased it when I found it (which to tell the truth was only once).  Sinistra is Italian for left – whether it be left-handed, or a leftist political party formed in Italy in the late 90s.  I’m not sure what the significance was in naming this wine, but it works.  If anybody knows, please let me know!

Tsillan Cellars sit on the hill above Lake Chelan, built in the Italian Villa style, with a beautiful outdoor patio and plenty of seating.  The size reminded me more of a Napa winery than most of the ones that we see in Washington and Oregon.  That said, the staff are friendly and down to earth, and more than happy to recommend a great wine with dinner – they have a restaurant too.

The wine is a blood red color, which a very acidic nose (not uncommon with the Italian varietals).  At first taste, it reminds me of a tart raspberry.  The oak that it was aged in is not apparent, leaving a lovely, approachable wine.  It is an excellent wine with food – tonight we had it with some delicious hamburgers made from locally raised, organic beef.  It complemented the richness of the beef nicely.

Jon doesn’t typically go for the Italian varietals, but he announced that this would be a winery he’d be happy to visit.  Hopefully we can make it over to Lake Chelan sometime soon!

Pre-conference tasting in Chelan

I had a conference to attend the third week of September in Chelan, WA, which is one of the newest designated AVAs. For those of you non-wine junkies, AVA stands for American Viticultural Area, which is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and United States Department of the Treasury (thanks, wikipedia!). I’m not sure why the Department of the Treasury is involved, but hey, I guess that is our government at work. The bummer is that Jon had to stay home and work, so I was on my own in such a beautiful area!

Fortunately for me, the conference that I was attending had a reception at the Tsillan Cellars Winery.  It is just a couple of miles outside of Chelan, and is a beautiful Italian style villa.  They had several whites and reds, and I was able to taste 3.  I started out with the Sinistra blend, which is 70% Sangiovese, 15% Nebbiolo, and 15% Barbera, which was delicious.  It was a nice soft red, that was smooth and easy to drink.  It was not heavily oaked, and I really enjoyed it.  Next I tried their Syrah, which was more bold, but still a nice balance between fruit and tannins.    We stayed for dinner, and I had their Gewurztraminer, and was a bit disappointed.  It seemed a bit stale, and didn’t really have the balanced sweetness that I was hoping for.  The food is a bit plain for the prices that they are charging, but all in all I enjoyed my visit.

I brought home two bottles – one was the Sinistra, and the other was their Syrah/Grenache blend that I didn’t try at the winery, but it was an interesting blend, so I wanted to try it.  At home,  Jon thought that it was too light and soft for his taste, but I really enjoyed it.  I would certainly buy it again.