Some Big Taste Found in Small Calif. Winery Cimerone

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

The small production wines of Cimerone Vineyards are available in limited quantities in a few states and by mail order only in California, and the winery does not offer a tasting-room. Pretty exclusive stuff, but because of a friendship between owners Roger and Priscilla Higgins and a local wine retailer, some cases of the Cimerone wines can be found in Memphis.

The winery lies in the new American Viticultural Area called Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, which tells you that it’s in the southernmost reaches of California’s Central Coast. The Higgins – he did dot-com start-ups, she was in the engineering and education side of Silicon Valley – launched Cimerone after they retired, just in time to release their first and expensive wines when the economy turned sour. They still produce a couple of top-end wines but also retooled their concept for less expensive bottles, under the 3CV label.

My recommendation today is the Cimerone 3CV Cilla’s Blend 2009, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara, an unusual blend that encompasses 69 percent syrah with the rest a Bordeaux-like combination of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot. It works beautifully.

For Your Very Own Bottle

Buster's Wine & Liquors
191 S. Highland St., $23
Great Wines & Spirits
6150 Poplar Ave., $23

Named in honor of Priscilla Higgins, the 3CV Cilla’s Blend 09 is slick as a whistle, fresh and engaging; aromas of black currants, blackberries and mulberries are permeated by sage, bay leaf and black olives with undertones of brambles and graphite. Blue plums and black and red currants dominate deep, spicy flavors supported by polished tannins and burnished oak through the moderately long, earthy finish. Lovely presence and tone and a terrific wine with pizzas, burgers, steaks and red-meat pasta dishes.

For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at www.biggerthanyourhead.net.