Tag Archives: Stella Mae

What we’re drinking: Sparkman Cellars Wilderness

Brynn writes:

Continuing with our highlights of Washington wine in honor of March being Washington Wine Month, this week we’re taking a look at Sparkman Cellars.

Voted a Top 100 Winery in the World by Wine and Spirits Magazine, Sparkman is a must-visit for anyone headed to Woodinville for a day of wine tasting. (Or if you’re headed to Taste Washington at the end of the month, it’s a winery that should make your “must taste” list).

Sparkman was the last stop on our Woodinville tour last month and what a great place to end the day. My friend Kyle’s husband Wes loves Sparkman’s chardonnay — so much so he bought a case while we were there.

While I enjoyed the Lumière Chardonnay — it had a nice balance of acidity with a slight hint of oak, giving some weight to the mouth — it was the Wilderness Red Blend that had my full attention.

I was already familiar with Sparkman’s Stella Mae and Ruby Leigh — named after winemaker Chris Sparkman’s daughters — which we tasted at last year’s Taste Washington event (Ruby Leigh made our “top sips list”).  Stella Mae is Sparkman’s take on a left-bank Bordeaux, while Ruby Leigh is his take on the right-bank blend. They have become signature wines for the winery.

I don’t recall tasting the Wilderness last year, so it either wasn’t offered, or after tasting so many wines I just didn’t remember it by the end of the day.

Regardless, I had my chance to enjoy the wine last month at the Sparkman Cellars tasting room in Woodinville. My notes from the time included this about the wine: “smooth, approachable, oak noticeable.”

After reading the grapes that go into of this blended red wine, it’s easy to see why I loved it so much. The two dominant grape varieties are cab franc and syrah — two of my favorite grapes.

The cab added some spice and hints of black licorice to the wine, while the syrah added hints of dark berries and contributed with the cab to the darker side of this wine — think leather or cigar box.

Time spent on oak — 18 months — left the finish slightly sweet with hints of toasted vanilla. Seeing that I’m an oak lover, I found the finish especially pleasing.

Here’s what winemaker Chris Sparkman says about the wine (note: a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Wilderness Society):

Tasting notes:

A rich supple blend full of chocolately black fruit on the nose layered with licorice, violets, vanilla bean, cassis and cigar box. The palate is loaded with black cherry, Asian spices and sweet toasty oak.

Appellation: Columbia Valley

Varietal Composition:

  • 29 percent Cabernet Franc
  • 27 percent Syrah
  • 22 percent Merlot
  • 13 percent Petit Verdot
  • 9 percent Malbec


  • Klipsun
  • Boushey
  • Hedges
  • La Coye
  • DuBrul
  • Double Canyon

Barrel Aging: 18 months

Oak Composition: 45 percent new French Quintessence, Saury, LeGrand and Vicard

Alcohol: 14.8 percent

Production: 645 cases

Price: $28