I can’t believe it’s already Friday and here I am in the early evening trying to get this weeks thirteen reviews posted on my site. With the Super Bowl coming soon and the Seahawks as a serious contender for the ring, I have been a little distracted. This week I tasted a few interesting wines, including a line-up of wines from a Washington producer (Sparkman Cellars) that I had never tried before. This week also included a few stinkers that you may not want to waste your hard-earned money on… Here goes.

2011 Sparkman Cellars “Wilderness” Red (Columbia Valley, WA)… $30.

Chris Sparkman will be the first to tell you that his wines are not in the budget wine category. However, after tasting through a few of his offerings, I will attest to the outstanding quality of the juice. This kitchen sink blend of red varietals is the result of left-over juice that didn’t make it into the other reds. If this is the left-overs, you will certainly get an idea of what your in-store for with the rest of the reds.
Aromas of tart cherries, currants, cigar box, rose petal and tobacco. Notes of black licorice, currants and red flowers come through on the palate. Good structure with solid tannins that are very approachable. Good balance, with a nice flow across the palate finishing with a black tea element coming through. (B+)

2012 Sparkman Cellars “Wonderland” Grenache (Yakima Valley, WA)… $50.

Heady aromas of boysenberries, spice, cherries and black licorice. Very polished on the palate with notes of currants, bramble berries, vanilla, mocha and spice. Very well-balanced with a nice integration of fruit and tannins, and a seriously loooong finish. This is one of those wines that will make you forget you just parted with a fifty-dollar bill. 84% Grenache & 16% Syrah (A)

2011 Sparkman Cellars L’Autre Pinot Noir (Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon)… $45.

Black tea meets cherries, wood and leather on the nose. Very bright in the mouth with notes of under-ripe raspberries and tart red cherries. Notes of black licorice hit on the mid-palate, followed by notes of black tea and cinnamon Imperials on the medium length finish. This is a Pinot Noir from a tough vintage in Oregon, and I wasn’t very excited about it for the price. It is a delicate Pinot that has some interesting flavors, but for $45. I can find you a lot better. (C-)

2012 Sparkman Cellars “This Old Porch” Rose (Columbia Valley, WA)… $24.

I am a huge rose fan, so I was very interested in trying this one, especially since it is a “kitchen sink” blend of seven (that’s what Chris said) different varietals. Strawberries all over the nose joined by notes of licorice and rhubarb. Nice balance on the palate with candied notes of cherries and strawberries. Nice and dry on the palate with a lingering, fresh finish. The only problem I had with this wine was the $25. price tag for a rose (not from Provence). However, there is no doubt that it is good. (B)

2012 Sparkman Cellars “Lumiere” Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $32.

This had to be one of the most interesting Chardonnay I have tasted (or smelled) in a while. Perfumed on the nose with notes of nutty bread, baking spices and pear coming through. Nice creamy mouth-feel, with notes of baking spices, pears and nuts hitting on the front of the palate. Excellent balance with some interesting, layered flavors joined on the finish with a touch of oak that is well-integrated. This Chardonnay may take you to a place you have never been before. (A-)

2012 Sparkman Cellars “Apparition” White Blend (Columbia Valley, WA)… $34.

Very aromatic on the nose with notes of tangerine, white flowers, mango and melon. Creamy on the palate with notes of mango and papaya hitting hard on the mid-palate, and lingering for some time on the drier finish. Nice balance
and good weight in the mouth. 67% Roussanne, 20% Grenache Blanc & 13% Marsanne. (A-)

2012 Sparkman Cellars “Pearl” Sauvignon Blanc (Yakima Valley, WA)… $23.

Fresh, bracing notes of grapefruit pith and fresh-cut grass. Very delicious, with a creaminess on the front of the palate showing notes of honey and apples with a backdrop of citrus. Finishes clean with a hit of minerals and citrus pith. I am very picky about Sauvignon Blanc, and I liked this one, but didn’t like the price tag. (B)

2011 Maryhill Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, WA)… $10.
Nice aromas of sweet apples and pears, with a hit of ginger and apple pie spices. Under-ripe fruit on the palate with notes of citrus rind, pineapple and lemon grass, with a healthy splash of oak. A little dis-jointed and awkward on the palate. I’m not a fan of this Chard, and I think your money could be spent better elsewhere (one of the stinkers). (D-)

2010 Waterbrook Merlot (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

Deep cherry and currant notes on the nose with a hint of chalkiness. On the palate, this wine gives tart a whole new meaning. This wine is down-right ugly and tight with notes of under-ripe cherries, veggies and a boat-load of oak. I haven’t puckered that much since my last rectal exam. Finishes with twigs, branches, tobacco and loads of tart. If you buy this wine, I will find you and slap you. (F)

2012 Waterbrook Sauvignon Blanc (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

Aromas of sweet apples, with a little applesauce action thrown in the mix. Fresh acidity, minerals and applesauce notes front to back finishing with some apple skin notes on the back-end. This is a very simple, easy to drink Sauvignon Blanc (C)

2011 Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, WA)… $14.

Aromas of cherries and alfalfa and a backside of rose petal. Herbaceous on the front of the palate meeting up with black tea, cherry and currant notes. Fresh tannins,good balance and a medium to long finish. Veggie and currant notes linger with a hint of chalkiness. A nice value in Cab for fourteen bucks. (B-)

2011 Canoe Ridge Vineyards “The Expedition” Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $19.

Sweet on the nose, with notes of grape jam, currants and rose petal. Grape jam and currants on the front of the palate resting on sweet tannins. Nice acidity front to back giving it a bright beam on the palate. There is a little grip and spice on the medium length finish. A touch on the simple side. (C+)

2011 Canoe Ridge “the Expedition” Merlot (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)… $19.

Nice and sultry on the nose with notes of ripe dark currants, red flowers and dark cherries. Polished, sweet tannins back notes of currants, ripe blackberries and tobacco that flow seamlessly across the palate with just a hint of “grip” on the medium length, fresh finish. (B+)

Stan The Wine Man

About Stan The Wine Man

I am a blue collar wine guy who has been in the biz for over twenty years. I work at a store in a tourist destination stop. I work hard at finding the best wine for the money. I love the challenge of learning my customer's palate so I can find the best wine for them, whether it is Petrus or white zinfandel. Cheers!
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