SIMI is one of those producers that’s been making good wine for so long that too many people--I'm talking about myself here--overlook it on the wine store shelves. This is, unfortunately, one of the downsides of familiarity: It breeds complacency among consumers. Even I have to admit that, though I grew up in a house where SIMI was uncorked as often as anything else, I hadn’t tasted it in several years.
But the 2006 Sonoma County Zinfandel very quickly brought me back into the SIMI fold: It reminded me of exactly what it is about California Zinfandel that I love so much, and about this producer that always won me over all those years ago.
It started off with a nose of wonderfully ripe wild strawberries and other summertime berries, bright cherries, a touch of sage, and the slightest hint--barely there but perceptible nonetheless--of violets. The sweetness of all that ripe berry and plum fruit dominated on the palate, but the fact that it was carried on such a lithe, silky frame rendered it amazingly fresh and bright. Those minor notes of cherry from the nose came to the fore on the mid-palate, and were backed by tannins that lent an appealing structure to the wine. It all finished with black pepper and a return to those sweet ripe strawberries: A wine brought full circle, bright and fruit-driven but not overblown, luscious yet structured, and a delicious reminder of the benefits of returning to producers who have been doing things right for so long that some of us--foolishly--had begun to neglect them.