Wine Time: Simi Sonoma County Merlot, 2006

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COST: $18-20

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WHAT: A nice all-around wine, beautiful deep red in the glass, pleasant on the nose and smooth on the palate. The aroma is full of red fruit with hints of spice. The tannins are nicely integrated to make a smooth, warm wine with ripe cherry flavors highlighted by a hint of toast.

The wine is 94 percent Merlot, 5 percent Malbec and 1 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, all grown in Sonoma's Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. It spent 16 months in oak barrels before it was bottled, then spent a year resting in the bottle before it was released.

THE WINERY: Giuseppe and Pietro Simi founded Simi Winery in 1876. The brothers had traveled from Tuscany, Italy, to California during the Gold Rush and by 1876 had settled in San Francisco, where they began making wine.

The family sold the winery in 1970, but the tradition of hand-crafted wine lives on.

Simi says it pays attention to the vines in the vineyard so it doesn't have to do much manipulation during the wine-making. Its wines are supposed to be a reflection of the land on which the grapes were grown.

I visited Simi's tasting room in Healdsburg years ago, and it was a memorable experience, with great wine in pleasant surroundings.

Simi makes a variety of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and a Syrah called Syrah Roseto.

GOES WITH: Roast beef, sausage, duck or just about any meat on the grill. I had it with homemade fried chicken fingers that had a little spice in them, and the wine matched up to it well.

WINE EVENTS

FRIDAY

  • Friday wine fest, 4:30-6:30 p.m., the Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans
  • First Friday tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

SATURDAY

  • Weekend wine tasting, 1-5 p.m., the Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans

MONDAY

  • Drop-in wine sampling, 3-5 p.m., Ninth Street Wine Market, $5

WEDNESDAY

  • Tasting for Masters Par-3 Contest, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

APRIL 10

  • Gary Player, 3-5 p.m., special release wine bottle signing, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans

APRIL 14

  • Wine tasting party and fundraiser for Symphony Orchestra Augusta, 5-7 p.m., The Snug Steak and Grill, 240 Davis Road, Augusta; $10; call the symphony at (706) 826-4705 for reservations; tickets also available at door

APRIL 15

  • Tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

APRIL 16

  • Hope Uncorked -- A Night to Remember, wine-tasting benefit for the Alzheimer's Association, 6:30-9:30 p.m., St. Paul's River Room on the Riverwalk; $50 per person, $90 per couple; for reservations contact dkurilla@alz.org.

APRIL 23

  • Wine seminar and tasting on Argentine wines, with Danielle Robinson of Advintage Distributing, 7 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; $15 or $20 at the door if places still available; for reservations call (803) 279-9522.

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