Sunday, May 2, 2010

Old Friends


Last Friday I was sitting with a few friends around the table and a couple of friends on the table. No one was under the table quite yet. The friends on the table were two wines that are very well known. Simi Chardonnay, Sonoma County and Simi Cabernet Sauvignon, Landslide Vineyard , Alexander Valley. To be truthful I knew the wine a little better than the friends that shared it. A bit of background information on the wines. I love California winery history so here goes. Try and stay awake.
Like so many California wineries Simi was founded by Italian immigrants. The Simi brothers Giuseppe and Pietro came to California to prospect during the gold rush. They settled in San Francisco in 1876 and began making wine. They wanted to expand and produce a better quality of wine so while on a trip to Sonoma they fell in love with the area. It reminded them of their native Tuscany. In 1880 they built their first native stone cellar and in 1881 moved their operation to the rolling hills of northern Sonoma County. They were very successful and had doubled their cellar's size by 1904. That year both brothers died within four months of each other. Giuseppe's daughter, the lovely Isabelle took over the winery, at age eighteen! Awake now? She married and ran the business till prohibition in 1920. Isabelle and Fred , her husband the banker, made and stored wine in their extensive cellars for fifteen years. Prohibition ended in 1933.So, they didn't sell any wine for fifteen years? Yea, right. Isabelle marked the end of prohibition by planting a grove of redwoods around the winery that stand today. Isabelle made Simi's first tasting room in 1934 out of a 25,000 gallon Champagne tank. Ah, beauty and marketing skills.She passed away in 1970 at age eighty four. OK, back to the wines.
When you taste wine with a diverse group, twenty somethings, thirty somethings, you don't really know what to expect. I got a lot of comments and a lot of honesty. They said the Chardonnay was really "old school" with creamy spice and great balance.Lots of lemon, orange, vanilla and honey on the nose. They liked the lime laced acidity and the apple-buttery-smoke flavors.( Rated 88 out of 100 pts. completely unofficial polling at 7 pm before dinner and we were getting hungry.)
The next wine was their single "Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. I could bore you with descriptions of the soil and the topography of the Alexander Valley. I could entertain you with stories and press. I won't. This wine is wonderful. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot with 1% Tannat thrown in. Beautiful garnet in color. Toast , plum, black cherry in the nose. Complex and bold but truly Sonoma in it's fruit and smooth tannins.Deep and intense and ripe. What a treat!
Dinner was ordered and the "youngsters" went straight for the beef entrees. I don't do beef so I had a wild mushroom casserole. We enjoyed our lives. Simi helped.
Carpe Vino
danthewineman

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