Movie & Wine Pairing


Sage Road Viognier 2014
Santa Barbara County, California

To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Currently Not Scheduled

Filmed and set during World War II, director Ernst Lubitsch’s dynamic black comedy set the high-water mark for movie satire. Pour a glass of this opulent California Viognier and enjoy the story of a theatrical couple in (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard) who support the Warsaw resistance through Shakespeare and backstage antics. Few movies – or wines – are as vibrantly satisfying.


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.


“The city of Santa Barbara has one of the dreamiest climates man could hope to find ...” (Jancis Robinson) So it’s no wonder that the Rhône’s sun-worshipping varieties like Viognier thrive around the city limits. Here, Eric chose fruit from one of his favorite vineyards – 3,000 feet up in the sunny Sierra Madre Mountains. Warm days and cool nights give the wine its bold (yet balanced) aromas and flavors.


Eric recommends serving smoked oysters or a ginger glazed mahi-mahi filet with his 2014 Viognier. If you’re not in the mood for fish, try serving it with a big plate of charcuterie – its fullbodied texture can easily stand up to spicy saucisson (traditional French sausage) or rich duck paté. Pad Thai or other mild to medium-spicy Asian dishes would be delicious with this as well.

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