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2001 York Creek Vineyards Cabernet Franc

Wine or Beer?

Most of my friends fall primarily into one of two camps. The beer drinkers who have an occasional glass of wine, and the wine drinkers who have an occasional glass of beer. Its rare to find someone who loves beer as much as they love wine, and even more rare to find someone who professes to be a connoisseur of both. Yet that is exactly what you will find in Fritz Maytag, owner and proprietor of both the Anchor Steam brewing company, and just across the street in the Portrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, York Creek Vineyards.

The Chronicle has told Maytag's story better than I can, so I won't drag you through his history as a brewing pioneer and his recent foray into wine. The important thing is that he makes wines from his vineyard in Napa with a fastidiousness that results in high quality and surprising flavors.

In this case, the surprising flavor is actually the lack of flavor -- the absence of what I call a typical Cabernet Franc leatheriness, and what usually prevents me from enjoying wines that are 100% Cab Franc. Maytag attributes this to the location of his fruit: "A lot of people are starting to think that Spring Mountian is the place to grow Cab Franc."

Tasting Notes:
This wine is dark dark ruby in the glass (unfiltered?) and has an aromatic geranium and black plum nose with hints of herbs. The body of the wine expresses the plum fruit, as well as velvety dark chocolate notes which I really adored. The wine was smooth, round, and clean, with a little bit of eastern spice in the finish.

Food Pairing:
I don't drink a lot of straight Cabernet Franc, so I probably am not the best person to recommend a great food pairing, however, if I treat it like a St. Emilion Bordeaux I'd put it with heartier vegetables and light meats in savory sauces. I might try pairing it with one of my favorite vegetarian recipes: greek style stuffed eggplant.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: $34-$39

This wine is available from various Internet wine merchants. Try Wine Searcher.Com.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud