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Hester Creek Cabernet Franc Reserve 2009, BC VQA

Okanagan Valley $26.99.

You wouldn't think one could draw a comparison between grapes and hockey (putting aside Don Cherry's nickname "Grapes"), but as the Canucks enter the playoffs, it's a team effort and sometimes the winning contributions come from unlikely players. So it is with Cabernet Franc. As part of a team, this undersung red varietal has become an essential in some of Bordeaux's most famous blends. But its scrappiness lends itself to success in the harsher climes of the Pacific Northwest. Cab Franc has been planted at Hester Creek, in Oliver, since at least the 1970s, and if there were a Stanley Cup for wine, the '09 reserve could win it. Its theme of high-toned red fruit includes cherry flavours, which along with subdued oak and smooth tannins give it lots of food applications. It will pair nicely with herb-crusted lamb, sausage, pepperoni pizza, spanakopita and nachos (great for TV snacking while watching the game). Available at VQA and private wine shops.

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Kasey Wilson is food editor of Wine Access magazine and editor of Best Places Vancouver.

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