By: John Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/30/2010 | Send Email
Walter Clore, the brilliant and idiosyncratic pioneer of Washington state viticulture, first championed the merits of Austria's native Blaufrankisch way back in the 1960s and 1970s. Believing the terrain, soils and climate were especially suited to this flavorful, aromatic varietal, he encouraged plantings in the Yakima Valley appellation, but for some reason it was designated as 'Lemberger', bringing to mind the famously ripe and lusty cheese of similar spelling. Not a good marketing strategy! So for years the grape languished in mediocrity, playing the obsequious role of a forgettable quaffer, until veteran California winemaker Jed Steele decided to give it an 'old look' (the French Franc banknote) and new persona. Calling it 'Blue Franc' in lieu of a name akin to 'smelly cheese' helped to liberate the lovely grape from its recent past and give it its place as a delightfully unoaked, festive wine, suitable for virtually any occasion calling for a smooth, luscious, spice-laden, medium-bodied red to complement much of what we call postmodern California cuisine. And by the way, the price to quality ratio is laughably low!