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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.

Comments (2)

Ryan wrote:
03.23.04 at 5:03 PM

I'm not going to proclaim I'm a connissuer of beer but like most, it was what I would drink before I got into wine. I still LOVE a thick stout with a perfect head! A lot of my friends are major beer drinkers (Coors/Bud/Molson are considered beer but flavored water) and through association, a considerable amount rubbed off on me. It was through Anchor Steam that I realized Fritz Maytag also grew grapes and made wine though they don't openly discuss that at the brewery... I agree, like the Mac/PC war, most people are passionate for only one. A good beer can be just as satisfying as a good wine - it comes down to what you fancy more...

Carry wrote:
03.26.04 at 3:26 PM

I'm an example of someone who loves both. A quick tour of my basement would show 10 gallons of beer, three gallons of mead, one gallon of cider and 5 gallons of plum wine - all homemade! Measured in gallons alone wine and beer are in a dead heat for the affections of my heart :-)

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