Sparkman Winery - 538 Wine Notes

Sparkman Winery was started by Chris And Kelly Sparkman. Chris spent decades as a GM and Sommelier at some of the U.S.’s finest restaurants: Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Michael’s in LA, Todd English’s Olives in DC and Mackay in Seattle. He is the Chairman Emeritus of the Washington State Wine Commission that helped provide many facts for the overview on Washington Wine above. His wife Kelly has a biology background working in Spotted Owl, Peregrine Falcon and Salmon restoration programs and later as a veterinary technician in Seattle.  

They started the winery to have a business that was family run. But also combined their talents in science and hospitality. While in Seattle, they were situated in the Northwest’s extraordinary wine industry with winemakers, growers, restaurants, retailers and wine professionals that would lead them to new adventures running their own winery.

The Sparkman’s applied their vision to working with the finest raw ingredients, crafting from it something real and living and sharing it with us, as they say, “the folks that are really thirsty for it. Fusing Art, Science, Agriculture, Philosophy and all the Good Stuff from life into a bottle of wine that we are proud of is both a challenge and a reward.”

The Architecture of our Wines

When we launched the winery in 2004, this is what we said we wanted to do:“Our intention is to make wines that will one day be considered among the finest available.” 

Such humility. Turns out, that when you source some of the finest fruit in the state and put it in cutting edge barrels and use traditional techniques used by industry icons, you stand at least a decent chance of producing some pretty nice wines. Not to flaunt our media supporters, but being named to Wine Spectator’s Top 100 and a Rising Star, Wine & Spirits’ Top 100 Winery in the World, and Wine Enthusiast Cult Winery we suppose gives us some claim to the notion that our wines taste great. We try awful hard.

-Chris Sparkman

2014 ‘Apparition’ White, Yakima Valle

The 2014 Apparition is a Roussanne blend in the style of a Southern Rhône white wine. 60% Roussanne, 20% White Grenache, 20% Marsanne. It was aged 4 months in neutral oak barrels. The bouquet is exotic with Asian spices, almonds and layers of nectarine, honey and peach, lychee. The finish is rich but clean with minerality and creaminess. This received 91 points from the Wine Enthusiast. The richness of the vintage certainly propelled what is perhaps the most hedonistic expression of this wine to date. The wine reached 13.9 degrees’ alcohol and 224 cases were made.

2014 ‘Wonderland’ Grenache, Yakima Valley

Grenache is a thin-skinned grape with a fruit-driven punch. This is 88% Grenache and 12% Syrah. A blend common in the Southern Rhône. The Wonderland is a blend of three different vineyards (Boushey, Olsen and Sagemoor) that have flavors all through the spectrum. Olive and citrus rind, Mushroom and cinnamon. Fiercely drinkable now, but I can imagine drinking well 5 years from now. The wine was aged in some new French oak for 13 months. Only 391 cases made. 92 Points from the Wine Enthusiasts and an Editor’s Choice.

2014 ‘Holler’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

The ‘Holler’ has 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. Holler refers to a Southern shout out, when something is great, simply yell out ‘Holler!’. The wine is strong and concentrated with black and blue fruit, silk tannins. I hint of Bordeaux with pencil lead, violets and herbes de Provence, dark chocolate and cassis. Aged in 30% new French oak. About a thousand cases made. 94 points in Wine Spectator.

2012 ‘Kingpin’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain

This is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remaining 6% being Petit Verdot. Cabernet Sauvignon from Klipsun Vineyard is an old vine vineyard in the Red Mountain AVA blended with high elevation Olsen Vineyard Petit Verdot gives the Kingpin its characteristic depth, power and grace. Explosive aromas of black currants, blackberry, black cherry, black plum, violets, cigar box and cedar lead to a landslide of stony flavors with dessert like chocolate and fruit. The wine was aged 22 months in 76% new French oak. Only 403 cases were made and will develop handsomely for decades.

"The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Kingpin is a bigger, richer, riper wine than the Rainmaker release. A blend of 94% Cabernet and 6% Petit Verdot, aged the same 22 months in 72% new French oak, it offers up lots of kirsch liqueur, blackberry, chocolate, toasted spice and dried herbs, full-bodied richness, and the classic savory Red Mountain tannin that’s the hallmark from this AVA. It’s approachable now, but I think it will be even better with short-term cellaring, and be at its best from 2018-2032. Rating: 91+ The Wine Advocate