Chaim Gur-Arieh has a fascinating r?um?

The man who created Power Bars, Cap'n Crunch cereal and Hidden Valley Salad Dressing also produced our wine-of-the-week winner -- the C.G. Di Arie, 2008 Sierra Legend Syrah-blend.

Gur-Arieh spent his early years as a food scientist, a fitting prerequisite for someone who says "after all, wine is food."

"My experience in food product development and food flavor manufacturing gives me another perspective to making wine," he said. "When I make a wine, I always think that it must meet certain sensory requirements and fit the style of wine that I created."

Gur-Arieh's syrah-based blend has good bones. It's edgy and complex, with notes of blackberry, cherry, chocolate, vanilla and coffee.

"My food science background taught me to have a palate that can discern between different flavors and identify them," he said. "While this helps me in making all of my wines, there are more limitations in making a varietal wine since I always think that the wine has to be true to its identity. When I make a blend, I am the one that creates the identity of the wine. This allows me to express myself and use my creativity."

Just what does that creativity entail?

"When I make a blend, I have an understanding of how each component contributes to the overall flavor," Gur-Arieh said. "My purpose is to find the synergy between the components so that I can create a wine that has a unique identity and an exciting personality."

In the late 1990s, Gur-Arieh sold his latest food company, California Brands Flavors, to an international company and founded the C.G. Di Arie Vineyards & Winery in Mount Aukum, in El Dorado County.

Asked what's the best part of making wine, Gur-Arieh said, "To see people smile when they taste it."

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or