by Fred McMillin
for October 11, 1999


A Red-Hot Long Shot



The wine in Sack F didn't have a chance of winning BEST OF TASTING, because:

  • It was WHITE. In my last 50 tastings, white wines have won only four times.
  • It was NOT a Chardonnay. The four whites that did win were all Chardonnays (avg. price = $25).
  • It was up against too many expensive bottles. of the 19 competitors, seven had an average price TEN DOLLARS above that of Wine F.

    Yet, F pulled 12% more votes than the red that finished second!

    The Rest of the Story

    Reviewing the literature, perhaps I shouldn't have been so suprised. There were plenty of indications that this is a grape on the rise. For example...

  • Prof. John Baxavanis—"A new, emerging, hot cultivar, its acreage around the world is increasing dramatically."
  • Larry Walker, S.F. Chronicle—The grape has jumped from obscurity to the flavor of the month ...because it TASTES GOOD.
  • Ed Lazarus, reporting on a tasting of 49 examples—"Its array of aromas and flavors make it a perfect libation for the lifestyle of the nineties."

    Bill Frick So, here's the white whose time has come.

    Wine F

    1997 Viognier, Dry Creek Valley (vee-oh-nyeah)
    Frick Winery, Sonoma County, CA.
    Tasting Notes - Plenty of pizzaz; more mango than melon; a real mouthful for a white.
    Financing—Things were tough.Bill Frick and wife Judith Gannon even sold the 1957 Chevie to help finance their winery and vineyard in 1976.
    Winemaking—Bill Frick (pictured), has been making small batches of beautifully-crafted wines ever since.
    Contact—Judith or Bill at (415) 776-7331, both phone and FAX.
    Price— $21


    Wine historians generally agree that Viognier originated in the Middle East. They do not agree on who brought it to France...early Greeks, Roman legions, returning French crusaders all have their supporters. In any case, there was a bit of a delay before it reached California...some 30 years ago.

    Note: For much more about Judith and Bill, see the Aug. 20, 1997 WineDay titled, "A Slick Frick Cab".

    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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