Château Simone, Palette Blanc
Château Simone, Palette Blanc

Château Simone, Palette Blanc

Provence, France 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$75.00
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Château Simone, Palette Blanc

Two hundred years ago, the Rougier family began hand-farming their vines at Château Simone. One hundred years ago, the Rougiers still remained, now selling their intriguingly unique and age-worthy “Grand Cru de Provence” wines. Today, their creations have transcended the realm of vinous fascination, and while there are never enough superlatives to adequately describe Simone’s Palette Blanc, they always seem to lie within a few degrees of “singular.”

In past vintages, I’ve described it as an ever-evolving hybrid of white Burgundy, JL Chave Blanc, and López de Heredia Blanco, and the new 2019 release does not deviate. However, and this is important, I found elevated levels of energy, complexity, and expressiveness emerged on the second day, so please savor it with patience. If you’ve yet to discover these wines, Simone’s sorcerous Palette Blanc is a five-grape, old-vine blend that barrel ages for multiple years in their hand-dug 16th-century cellar. Bottom line, if you’re striving to own the world’s most enchanting wines, today’s one-of-a-kind, kaleidoscopic, deeply evocative bottle must be at the very top of your list. Purchases must be capped at six bottles. This wine is only available as a pre-offer and we expect it to arrive at our warehouse in 2-3 weeks.

NOTE: We also have access to a bit more of Simone’s 2015 Blanc which was offered at the start of the year. You can secure up to three bottles here

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 of the Rougier family’s vines is that they are north-facing. Yes, you read that correctly—Simone’s vines cling to a 750-foot limestone face that is angled 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 (in the northern hemisphere) I’ve ever seen that produces world-class wine. 

Next, there is a mind-boggling diversity of grape varieties among these ancient vines. Château Simone’s reds contain Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault, Syrah, Manosquin, Castet, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat Noir. Not to be outdone, today’s white blend is predominately Clairette with a strong supporting cast of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc, and Muscat. 

Finally, the character of Château Simone’s wines is perhaps what is most unique and fascinating for sommeliers. Despite the punishingly hot and long growing season, the preternaturally old vines (50-100+-years-old), and mixed bag of varieties, Château Simone does not produce heavy, syrupy wines. On the contrary, the Rougiers are renowned for bottling chiseled, cellar-worthy whites that are defined by their power, elegance, balance, and detail. 

Château Simone’s grapes are harvested by hand, de-stemmed, and lightly pressed before a spontaneous fermentation in wooden vats without temperature control. Due to the frigidness of their subterranean cellar, malolactic fermentation is naturally blocked. After six months of maturation in old casks, the wine is removed from its lees and continues aging for one year.  This is then followed by an additional year in mostly neutral oak barrels before bottling. All told, the process takes more than three years before release into the US market!

I suggest serving this in Burgundy and slowly letting it evolve as long as you can, seeing if you can stretch your final pour into day three. At first, it’s quite reserved, showing hints of oxidized yellow apple, lemon verbena, resin, and salt-preserved lemon with smoky richness and waxy green fruits on the palate. On day two, its Burgundian side was out in full force, showing leesy, toasty orchard fruits and citrus on a powerful backbone of crushed limestone. Compared to the 2015, this flaunts more finesse and precision, with a weightlessness to its medium-plus body. It’s fantastic and built to age for a decade. Cheers!


Château Simone, Palette Blanc
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France

Bourgogne

Beaujolais

Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France

Bordeaux

Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France

Alsace

Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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