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A Perfect Diner Wine

Shooting Star Blue Franc Washington 2009
Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 14, 2011

The wine list had only a few bottles, but they were anything but the usual stuff. Then again, you don’t expect to find a wine list at a diner, even one as cool as Citizens Band, which offers mac and cheese with black truffles in a storefront next to a bakery in San Francisco’s SoMa district. I homed in on Shooting Star Blue Franc Washington 2009, which the waiter described as like a light, snappy Zinfandel.

I racked my brain trying to remember a Washington winery called Shooting Star, but as soon as I saw the label I remembered. The blue-tinged design, which looked like some sort of a European currency, was the work of Jed Steele, whose Steele Wines mostly use California grapes. When Steele consulted with Columbia Crest in Washington years ago, he discovered how much he liked Lemberger, an Austrian grape, then widely grown in Washington. When he started an offshoot of his own Steele Wines and called it Shooting Star, he repurposed Lemberger as Blue Franc, a play on Blaufränkisch, its original name in Austria.

The wine strikes me as a melding of Pinot Noir’s structure with Zinfandel’s flavors, plus a touch of Gamay. I rate it 86 points, non-blind. It’s a winner, especially at the retail price of $12 to $13. And darned good with truffled mac and cheese. members: Get scores and tasting notes for Top Values among recently rated Washington reds.

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