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Simi Shiraz 1998
In 1876, brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Simi began making wine in San Francisco from Sonoma County grapes and eventually planted vineyards near Healdsburg. Simi's historic stone cellars were built in 1890 and are still used to age the wines. Today, Simi is recognized as a leader in innovation and experimentation with a history of over 125 years of cutting-edge winemaking.
Their Alexander Valley vineyards possess some of the most diverse soils of any wine-growing region. Years of geologic activity – from an ancient mudflow to the meandering Russian River and Mayacama Creek – has created numerous distinct soil types and a range of microclimates. Here they grow the red Bordeaux varietals for their Reserve Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for their Sendal.
Their Russian River Goldfields vineyard is planted to field selections chosen from the oldest and best Chardonnay vineyards in California. The combination of diverse clones and the cool, Russian River Valley climate produce Simi’s distinct Reserve Chardonnay.
Simi's winemakers focus on site-specific winemaking and use the most modern advances in vineyard management, fermentation and blending to best express the personality and flavors of each vineyard site.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.
In the Glass
At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.
Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.