While Northstar – an offshoot of Ste Michelle Estates – was initially a Merlot focused endeavor, they have in recent years branched out to bottling other varietals, such as Syrah and Cab Franc. Many of these wines are currently only available at the winery.

The Stella Maris, whose first vintage dates back to 2000, is a blend of fruit that “for stylistic reasons are not ultimately selected for either Northstar Merlot blend”. Some might call this a declassification program. Some might not.

I found the 2005 Stella Maris to be quite enjoyable, especially at a sale price. It would be interesting to compare it to the 2005 Walla Walla Valley and Columbia Valley Merlot – the winery’s flagship wines – which were pilloried in March 31st Wine Spectator (83 pts and 79 points respectively complete with the dreaded “Tasted twice, with consistent notes”). These are truly dreadful scores for Spectator. Comparatively, Wine Advocate gave these two wines 92 pts and 88 points respectively.

Note that I enjoyed this wine much more at lower temperatures (62-65 degrees) than higher (68-72).







Northstar Stella Maris Columbia Valley Red Wine 2005

Smoke and fresh ground cranberries interlace with herbs and spice. A fair amount of alcohol on the nose. A smooth, even palate with a lot of fruit and a coating mouthfeel. Well integrated oak, although perhaps a bit heavy handed at times. 14.5% alcohol. 77% Merlot; 16% Cabernet; 7% Syrah.

Purchased at QFC for $20.