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.