Red blends big deal across great Northwest

By on June 12, 2017

Sparkman Cellars 2014 Wilderness Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $25

One of Christian Sparkman’s most affordable and available reds also ranks among his best, an Iberian Peninsula-driven blend of Syrah (54%), Petite Sirah (17%) and Grenache (12%) with Portuguese varieties Tempranillo (11%), Souzão (4%) and Touriga Naçional contributing, too. His winemaker, Linn Scott, draws from stellar vineyards such as Boushey, Clifton Hill, Kiona and Olsen to build beautiful aromas of  plum, blueberry and raspberry with cherry blossom and peach skin. Chocolate-covered pomegranate and sweet blueberry flavors strike a terrific balance that’s capped by a spoonful of cherry pie filling. In 2007, the Sparkmans began donating a portion of this wine’s sales to The Wilderness Society, and production of the Wilderness Red has grown nearly six times along the way.

Rating: Outstanding!

Production: 1,126 cases

Alcohol: 14.5%

Winery website





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About Great Northwest Wine

Articles authored by Great Northwest Wine are co-authored by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.


  1. Jeffrey Masnari

    June 12, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Burnt Bridge Cellars listed at 15.7% alcohol. You guys palate orientation is showing. Of course maybe there the only one listing actual alcohols. The overly jammy black fruit dominated wines do a disservice to the wines WA could create. This big sappy wines show little to no complexity beyond black fruit. At least step outside your comfort zone and include some wines made in a more elegant refined character. You can certainly qualify that they are a atypical style for most NW consumers might have experienced but at least we can expose people to stylistic differences and maybe change the many people I encounter who dismiss NW red wines because they are so rich and jammy.

  2. Eric Degerman

    June 12, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Greetings, Jeffrey.
    We evaluate every wine blind and enjoy a wide variety of them. In this case, the use of the word “hedonism” is a reference to the voluptuous alcohol of the Blend X. We don’t hide that. And yet, we found this wine balanced to our palates. It’s tasty juice.
    Others made by Burnt Bridge Cellars are presented in a similar style, and we’ve enjoyed those, too. True, they might not be as versatile of a food wine as others, but after all, wine is an alcoholic beverage. And we are not the only critics in the U.S. to enjoy a red wine offered in this style.
    As you pointed out, there are many styles of wine produced in the Pacific Northwest, and we enjoy sharing our reviews of those wines. Along the way, we publish the listed ABV for each one. As you note, I suspect some wineries are more honest about that stat than others.
    In closing, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for helping to champion Pacific Northwest wines.

  3. Jeffrey Masnari

    June 23, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Eric I do appreciate you taking the time, as well, to reply. I will try to acquire the burnt bridge and make my own evaluation only because I am curious as to how you balance 15.7% alcohol. Acid additions must be required.
    thanks again.

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