Winter 2003

Red Wine and Chocolate

 The Yakima Valley Winery Association kicks off the 2003 wine-tasting season with its annual Red Wine and Chocolate extravaganza on Presidents' Day weekend, 15-17 February. Member wineries will provide chocolate delicacies in their tasting rooms throughout the weekend and many, including Claar Cellars, will offer special discounts on red wines. The event is free to the public, but guests must purchase a tasting glass--five bucks for a commemorative association glass or choose from our fine selection of Claar Cellars logo glasses or, if you are really frugal, bring your own glass from home. We don't care, but we don't wash glasses that weekend.

Claar Cellars will feature chocolate truffles and other treats prepared by our good friend Ivone Petzinger of Essencia Artisan Bakery and Chocolaterie in downtown Yakima. Ivone is legendary in the Yakima Enological Society for the fabulous desserts she provides at many of our tastings. In addition, renowned Goldendale artist Jim Gleason will display a wonderful array of his very reasonably priced wildlife paintings and prints. We will be open 10-6 daily for the weekend.

The weekend activities unofficially begin at 7:00 PM on Valentines Day with the eighth annual "An Intimate Red Wine and Chocolate Affair" sponsored by Lower Valley Hospice at the Prosser Community Center. This fun event features an extensive selection of elaborate chocolate treats prepared by local confectioners, wine-tasting with many of the best Yakima Valley wineries (including us, of course), and music provided by Dr. A and Friends. Tickets are $20 per person or $35 per couple. Phone 509-837-1676 for tickets and additional information.

2002 Late Harvest Riesling

It is heeeere…the long-awaited debut of our new Late Harvest Riesling. We literally just put this baby in the bottle but it already displays the fruitiness and exquisite balance expected of a Claar Cellars dessert wine. Believe it or not, I think the 02 LH actually offers a little better texture and "mouth-feel" than last year's 90 Point Wine Spectator delicacy. It is a touch sweeter than previous years--8.5% residual sugar compared to 6% in the past few vintages--but slightly higher acid levels keep the sugars nicely balanced. This wine is very much akin in aroma and taste to last year's beauty: big-league peaches and apricots up-front, followed by wild honeysuckle on the palate. And do I detect a bit of fresh Granny Smith apples on the finish or is it just me?

Because it is so new, the 2002 Late Harvest Riesling is only in limited distribution in the Seattle metropolitan area and will not be available elsewhere for several months. So, for those of you who cannot wait, we have a special offer available only to registered Friends of Claar: 10% discount on bottle purchases ($8.99) and 20% off on case purchases ($95.94 = $7.99 per bottle). This applies to in-person sales at the Tasting Room or orders via telephone, fax, e-mail, postcard, carrier pigeon, Red Hawk or Barnyard Owl, and notes from mom, BUT ONLY UNTIL MID-NIGHT VALENTINES DAY. No mercy on this--deadline is firm. You must identify yourself as a friend and, most importantly, YOU MUST BE ON OUR FOC LIST to receive this special discount. (Remember that taxes, packaging and shipping are extra.)

As many of you will recall, our 2001 Late Harvest Riesling sold out in early September last year…get the new kid on the block while the gettin' is good.

Wine News

Sales of our 2002 Nouveau Syrah, the only Beaujolais nouveau-style wine in the state, were brisk. The three cases we have remaining are available only at the Tasting Room. Bruno Corneaux, our winemaker, is from Burgundy, so he knows a thing or two about nouveau. In fact, during a taste-off at Rosauers SuperStore in Yakima on Nouveau Release Day last November, 11 of 13 tasters preferred the Claar Cellars nouveau to the king of Beaujolais nouveau makers Georges Dubeouf. This wine is good! If the word nouveau means nothing to you in a wine context…shame. Better bone-up!

We have just 14 cases of the 87-Points-in-Wine-Spectator-October 2002-pretty-darned-good-drink-it-with-virtually-anything 2001 Johannisberg Riesling remaining. Your humble correspondent owns three cases of this wine because, in a year's time, it will be absolutely perfect!

 Catch Claar Cellars

Visit with us and sample our wines at the following venues during February and March. New events are always being added. Contact Mike at the Tasting Room for further information.


13--Yakima Valley Museum. Mike and Debbie will pour our Gold Medal 00 Chardonnay and 98 Cabernet-Merlot at the museum's 9th annual gourmet dinner and fund-raiser. Theme: Out of Africa. THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT!

14--Prosser Community Center. Mike and Debbie pour our best at "An Intimate Red Wine and Chocolate Affair."

14, 15, 16--Paramount Theater, Seattle. Wine-tasting and hors d'oeuvres prior to screenings of "The Producers." Proceeds benefit Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) and the University of Washington's Autism Center. Call (206)-763-3373.

March--Washington Wine Month

6--Esquin Wine Merchants, Seattle. 5-7 PM. Marcus Franklin, our National Sales Manager, will be at Esquin along with reps from several other Yakima Valley wineries. Call 206-682-7374.

8--Top of the Market, Seattle. 1-4 PM. Marcus and nine other Yakima Valley winery representatives will show our stuff in the historic Pike Place Market. Call 800-258-7270.

22--Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle. 1-4 PM. Elliott's could have selected any winery to partner in demonstrating the art of pairing fine wines with fresh oysters. And whom did they choose? That's right…us! Marcus will be on hand to help pour our 01 Chardonnay, 01 Sauvignon Blanc, and 01 Johannisberg Riesling. Call 206-623-4340.

27--Elliott's Oyster House, Seattle. Don't miss this one! Marcus and the world famous chefs at Elliott's Oyster House pair traditional Northwest cuisine with some of your favorite wines from Claar Cellars. Call (206) 623-4340.

Yakima Enological Society

If you live in the Yakima area and are not members of the society…why the heck not? YES is one of the most dynamic wine groups in the country, having grown from 140 members in summer 2001 to 300 today. Monthly tastings are held in the beautifully refurbished Yakima Valley Museum banquet room and feature some of the best wines and speakers in the state. This month is "Washington vs the Rhone," featuring varietals common to both wine-growing regions. We'll taste and compare WA Viognier and Syrah with their French counterparts. Improve your wine knowledge, meet others who share your interest in this fascinating culture, and sample outstanding cuisine at very minimal cost. Visit YES on the Internet at for details. Mike is on the Executive Board, give him a call if you prefer talking to a real person.


We welcome your comments about our newsletter, good, bad or indifferent. Actually, we don't like indifference very much. Give us your best shot, ask questions, or just send a friendly YO! We really enjoy the notes we receive from you (mostly). You can reach Mike by replying to this e-mail or by phoning the Tasting Room at 509-829-6810. He is solely and completely responsible for all typos, grammos, offense(s) taken, and errors of omission and commission.