Shooting Star Blue Franc, 2007
Shooting Star wines are made by acclaimed winemaker Jed Steele at his winery located about 100 miles north of San Francisco. In 1975 he had the opportunity to travel to Austria and visit their wine-growing region on the banks of the Danube River. One wine that impressed him was a red wine made from the Lemberger grape. In Austria winemakers refer to it by its ancient name, Blau Frankisch, literally “blue grape from France.” Those wines remained in his memory and when he began consulting for Columbia Crest Winery in the early 1990’s he discovered that there was a significant planting of Lemberger in Washington State’s Yakima Valley appellation. The winemakers in Washington label these wines as “Lemberger”, but Jed found that name quite harsh (and reminiscent of a stinky cheese of the same name). He decided that the wine was worth pursuing and recalled the other name for the varietal in Austria. He chose to call his version, Blue Franc, a great choice from my perspective. The Shooting Star Blue Franc is made from Lemberger grapes from the Columbia Valley and is made without oak aging. This 2007 vintage is very smooth and pleasant and unpretentious. The color is deep red with nice clarity and a nose of black fruit and ripe berries. This is a medium bodied wine with flavors of sweet red cherry, blueberry, tobacco and a trace of black pepper. There is crisp acidity and low tannins that make this wine a nice companion to any casual meal or a ham and cheese sandwich. This is a nice wine to try to explore a lesser known grape that produces very drinkable wines. We purchased this Shooting Star Blue Franc at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $10.