Opulent, apricot-loaded Viognier is a ‘rescued’ Rhône grape that nearly went extinct a few decades ago, when plantings were down to just a couple of acres. But today, winemakers like the renowned Eric Hickey have given it a second (well-deserved) chance. Here, Eric’s merged the best of France – a light aging in fine oak from two of France’s best-known coopers – with that rich and ripe California fruit character. The results won a prestigious silver medal at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Eric (shown below, center, with his father, Dave, and vineyard manager, Lino) may goof off in the vineyard, but he’s very “serious about quality,” says top critic, Robert Parker. At 16, Eric apprenticed at Maison Deutz under Christian Roguenant (maker of the official sparkling wine for the 1988 Olympics). Eric’s technique may come from a Frenchman, but his passion comes from closer to home: his dad makes sparkling wine at a top estate in nearby Arroyo Grande Valley.