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Steele Shooting Star Blue Franc 2002

Other Red Blends from Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
    0% ABV
    • WW89
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    Winemaker Notes

    In 1975 I had the opportunity to travel to Austria and visit their wine-growing region on the banks of the Danube River. This country produces many great wines but until recently they were mainly for local consumption. One wine that impressed me was a red wine made from the Lemberger grape. This is an odd name and some growers did refer to it with its ancient name: Blau Frankisch or blue grape from France. These were very nice wines full of berry fruit flavors and great color but with little tannin or harshness. These wines remained in my memory and when I began to consult for Columbia Crest Winery in the early 1990's I discovered that there was a significant planting of Lemberger in Washington State in the Yakima Valley appellation. The winemakers in Washington loved the variety but universally hated the name as brings up bad memories of the strong cheese of the same name. I decided that the wine was worth pursuing and recalling the other name from Austria, chose to call our version Blue Franc. In a flash of inspiration I selected a French Franc note as our label, getting approval for which was no easy task. Each year we choose to watermark a wine person of note on the label. This year we chose Andy Quady of Quady winery as our featured personage. This wine is very similar to the wines that I tasted in Austria 25 years ago. It has a medium body with great color and the flavor and aroma profile that is a cross between Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. We give the wine 3-5 months in older oak barrels. The absence of tannins makes this an easy wine to enjoy now and with a variety of foods. Given the whimsical label and great flavors, this is a wine for festive occasions especially outdoor events like barbecues and picnics.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Steele

    Steele

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    Steele, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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    Jed Steele has worked making wine in California since the late 1960s. In 1991, he founded his own small winery in Lake County. Steele Wines specializes in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc and Syrah.

    Yakima Valley

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    Often considered to be the heart of Washington wine country, the Yakima Valley is a sub-AVA of the vast Columbia Valley. The first AVA established in Washington, it is home to some of the state’s most established wineries, and contains three smaller sub-regions: Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, and Snipes Mountain. The climate here is cooler than the rest of the Columbia Valley, making the Yakima Valley ideal for growing white varieties.

    Chardonnay is the most planted grape here, followed closely by Riesling—both made in a wide range of styles depending on the warmth of the vineyard site. Because of the cooler climate, Merlot outnumbers darker-fruited, more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon here—an anomaly for Washington viticulture—and takes on characteristics of sweet red fruit with a supple texture, and sometimes notes of chocolate and mint. Yakima Valley Syrah is earthy and savory, complemented by a wide range of berry flavors from red to black.

    Other Red Blends

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    With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.

    UCW18002_2002 Item# 60342