IN DEFENSE OF SARAH AND SPARKY
“Sarah and Sparky” are Sarah and Sparky Marquis, a husband and wife team of winemakers in Australia. They were the driving force behind the very popular Marquis Phillips line of Aussie wines and currently they produce one of my favorite lines, Mollydooker. They were also responsible, several years back, for making my favorite wine of all time, the 2001 Shirvington. Sarah and Sparky are no longer associated with the Marquis Phillips line of wines although they are still being made under that name by another Australian winemaker, Chris Ringland. The original collaboration on those wines was a partnership between Sarah, Sparky and an importer named Dan Phillips (thus the Marquis Phillips name) who has a company called The Grateful Palate. Troubles in wine paradise resulted in a protracted legal battle that resulted in Mr. Phillips retaining the rights to the Marquis Phillips name and he continues to produce these wines long after Sarah and Sparky have disassociated themselves from the project. Interestingly, one of the wines produced each year by the Marquis Phillips people is a Shiraz/Cab blend titled “Sarah’s Blend”. That doesn’t seem particularly fair to me but, that’s another story for another time.
The Mollydooker wines ( Australian for “left-handed, which both Sarah and Sparky are) have gained a legion of fans here in the USA. Sarah and Sparky produce wines at a variety of price points. In the $25.00 range they have an excellent shiraz called “The Boxer”, a merlot ”The Scooter”, a cab/shiraz/merlot blend “Two Left Feet”, a cabernet ”The Maitre D” and a white wine “The Violinist”. They have other wines at the $50.00 price point, two high-end offerings, a shiraz ”Carnival of Love” and a shiraz/cab blend “Enchanted Path” which are in the $80 range. Their Top of the Line, pride of the family, is a rich shiraz called “The Velvet Glove” which tops in at $200.00 per bottle (I have one of these and am looking for the right time to give it a try).
Now, as to why they need defending. I like these wines, most of the time. For those who can’t find a wine they like I would ask that you invest $25.00 at your local wine outlet and pick up a bottle of the shiraz,” The Boxer”. It’s full of rich, dark fruit flavor, considerably more so than most wines. Therein lies the problem. Most wine aficionados feel that wine shouldn’t have this much flavor. I have read tons of complaints saying they can’t drink these wines, they wouldn’t drink them for free, and my favorite comment that I have seen more than once, “it’s not for drinking, it should be spread on toast.” When I went to look up something on these wines here are the first two reviews that I came across:
“This stuff was absolutely wretched. Over the top alcoholic and artificial fruit flavors that remind me of trying to wash dirt out of my mouth with Robitussin cough syrup.”
“I’m universally underwhelmed by the Marquis wines. Maybe some of you who are constantly bitching about the price of some wines can stock up.
You’re welcome to my share.”
The truth is, these wines are fruit bombs. I don’t think they go all that well with food. I do think that they are fun to drink with cheese or just sitting around before a meal. There is definitely a place for these wines and Sarah and Sparky do a fantastic job of marketing their wines. They are truly PR experts. I have never met them but have corresponded with them many times and they both seem like genuinely nice people.
Do yourself a favor. Try one of their wines. Then come back and thank me.