The bistro has earned its place as a beacon of hospitality for those making the long slog from Yakima to the Tri-Cities and beyond.
TRAVELERS TO Eastern Washington wine country may be familiar with Wine o’Clock, a tasting room, wine bar and bistro in the Vintners’ Village just off the freeway outside Prosser. Susan and Ron Bunnell are the proprietors, and Wine o’Clock has earned its place as a most welcome beacon of hospitality and delicious food for those making the long, food-challenged slog from Yakima to the Tri-Cities and beyond.
For the past couple of years, the wines served were made by Ron under the Bunnell Family Cellar label, and a companion, less expensive, RiverAerie brand. Now the bistro has its own lineup as well, and it’s a trove of little gems.
Wine o’Clock 2010 Gewürztraminer; $18. With alcohol just slightly over 12 percent, you might expect an off-dry style, but in fact there is a lovely tension between the acid and the hint of juicy, fruit-driven sweetness. It’s loaded with tangerine, nectarine, Satsuma orange and more. This would be a delightful match with a curry or coconut-based preparation.
Wine o’Clock 2010 Pinot Gris; $18. Washington pinot gris has quickly established a style all its own. Here it is lightly spritzy, a lively, bright and spicy wine with flavors of tree fruits and brioche.
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Wine o’Clock 2010 Chardonnay; $18. This is a muscular, almost chewy chardonnay; it tastes like a wine that has had a fair amount of skin contact. The skin texture is matched to fruit flavors of apple and Asian pear, with a hint of bitterness.
Wine o’Clock 2009 Barbera; $22. The nose is an interesting mix of cooked fruits and baking spices. The flavors are sour plum, spiced apple and a dash of brown sugar. This is ready to drink, smooth and quite enjoyable.
Wine o’Clock 2009 Sangiovese; $22. Here is a tart take on sangiovese, with flavors true to its Italian roots but adding in the sharp, vivacious tang of Washington grapes. Red apple and plum, lightly dusted with chocolate and showing a trace of earthy barnyard.
Wine o’Clock 2009 Primitivo; $22. At first sip, this engaging Primitivo retains a very youthful, grape fruit profile, but then the tannins kick in, and it becomes something like a cross between a Washington lemberger and a zinfandel.
These are all limited-production wines. At Wine o’Clock in Prosser, they are offered by the glass, the flight or the bottle, at standard retail — not restaurant — prices. They may also be tasted and purchased at Bunnell’s Woodinville tasting room or purchased directly from the winery website. If you are visiting wine country and would like to arrange a special tasting for your group, the Bunnells ask that you call in advance (509-786-2197).