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Château Simone, Palette RougeProvence, France 2017 (750mL)

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Château Simone, Palette Rouge Provence, France 2017 (750mL)

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Perhaps it’s unfair to say Grand Cru-equivalent Château Simone is still one of the best-kept secrets in fine French wine because (1) our subscribership wolfed down their 2014 and 2015 with great zeal and (2) it seems connoisseurs the world over have now been served notice. Case in point: The moment Simone’s 2016 was released last year, the European market snatched up every bottle before a single one could make it to America. So, yes, we’re incredibly fortunate to have secured any amount of today’s phenomenal 2017—it more than makes up for the absence of ’16.


Family-run for nearly 200 years, Château Simone crafts its supernatural Palette Rouge by way of ancient vines (some of which are considered to be the oldest in France), sorcerous blending skills, and a lengthy barrel aging regimen in their 500-year-old hand-dug cellar. All this results in a small-production masterpiece that captures the most alluring qualities of elite Bordeaux, Rhône, and Burgundy. To enjoy Simone’s Palette Rouge is to have enjoyed one of the finest and most enchanting experiences in all of wine. They are region-defining, incomparable in taste, and their cellar life is nearly inexhaustible—today’s extremely limited 2017 proves that beyond a doubt. 




Owned by the Rougier family since 1830, the property clings to a single hillside in Montaiguet, a small hamlet just east of Aix-en-Provence, 20 miles north of Marseille. The appellation that encompasses this village is Palette AOC, and even as a small independent producer, Château Simone produces a majority of the wine labeled within the designation. To the naked eye, Château Simone appears to be a classic family-run estate, but it’s impossible to begin discussing the property without immediately diving into the myriad qualities that make this one of the most distinctive estates in France. 


The first and perhaps most shocking feature about the Rougier family’s vines is that they are north—yes, north—facing. Château Simone’s vines hug a 750-foot limestone face that is angled directly away from the sun. This is unusual, but it allows the vines to retain their freshness, despite the region’s fierce heat. It is one of the very few north-facing vineyards I’ve ever seen that produces world-class wine. Next, there is a shocking diversity of grape varieties present in these ancient vines. Château Simone sits directly between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Bandol, so it’s unsurprising to see standards like Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan—but if you look a little closer in the vineyard, you will discover Cabernet Sauvignon, Manosquin, Castet, Muscat Noir, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir, Muscat de Hambourg, and many others. Finally, the character of Château Simone’s wines is perhaps what is most unique for sommeliers and collectors. Despite Provence’s long and sometimes punishingly hot growing season, Château Simone does not produce heavy or overpowering wines. On the contrary, the Rougier family is renowned for bottling beautifully elegant, floral, and aromatic reds that caress and finesse the palate rather than hammer it with alcohol and extract. This is a Provençal Grand Cru for lovers of traditional Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Piedmont!


Château Simone’s colorful palette of grapes are harvested by hand, de-stemmed, and lightly pressed before fermentation. An indigenous-yeast fermentation lasts for several weeks in wooden vats and the resulting wine is racked into large oak foudres to rest on lees. After one year, the wine is decanted once more into older barriques, where it rests for an additional year before being bottled. The freshly bottled wine then matures for another year before leaving their cellar. All told, the entire process takes nearly four years before release into the US market! In our experience with Château Simone, the wines often require even more time in bottle before fully exhibiting the singular qualities that made them iconic. 


I’ve been on a Château Simone-drinking rampage as of late—2011, 2014, 2015—and today's ’17 was an absolute treat to devour. It filled the glass with intense, heady perfumes like wild plums, black raspberry liqueur, dried black cherry, blackberry, and currant with crushed stone, garrigue, smoked herbs, leather, meat, and cracked pepper following lockstep. It’s lush and broad, with dark-fruited layers and sinewy muscle that provide ample mid-palate heft. As always, this wine gains intelligence and complexity as hours pass by and every mineral-filled sip lingers for 30+ seconds. Whether enjoying now after 60-90 minutes in a decanter or cellaring for consumption in 5, 10, 15+ years, you’re going to be blown away by this French red masterwork, guaranteed. Cheers! 





Château Simone, Palette Rouge Provence, France 2017 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionProvence
  • Sub-RegionPalette
  • SoilLimestone Scree w/ Clay & Gravel
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendMostly Grenache & Mourvèdre w/ 6+ Others (See Article)
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakNeutral Barrels & Foudres
  • Service Temp.60° F
  • GlasswareLarge Bordeaux Stem
  • DrinkNow-2037+
  • Decanting60-90 Minutes
  • PairingDaube Provençal

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionProvence
  • Sub-RegionPalette
  • SoilLimestone Scree w/ Clay & Gravel
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendMostly Grenache & Mourvèdre w/ 6+ Others (See Article)
  • Alcohol14%
  • OakNeutral Barrels & Foudres
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareLarge Bordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2037+
  • Decanting60-90 Minutes
  • PairingDaube Provençal