Château Simone encompasses twenty hectares of vineyards that sit on limestone soils at elevations between 500 and 750 feet above sea level on the slopes of Montaiguet. The special microclimate of this appellation is influenced by the encircling pine forests, the mass of Mont Sainte-Victoire, and the Arc River. The vineyards were reconstituted after the invasion of phylloxera and many vines are over a century old. The Rougiers maintain the particular vinification methods developed and cherished over many decades. For those of you who are not familiar with these wines, whether rouge, blanc or rosé, we believe you will find them to be compelling and unique.
All of the grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, lightly pressed and fermented for 15 to 20 days in small wooden vats with only wild yeast, then put into small foudre to rest on the lees. The white is predominantly Clairette, with small amounts of Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc, and a dash of Bourboulenc, Muscat Blanc, Picpoul, Furmint and Sémillon. Fermentation takes place at a relatively warm 68 degrees and aged for one year in 20–30 hl casks then one year in older barrels. The red from Simone is an elegant yet well-constituted wine of great depth. It is primarily composed of Grenache and Mourvèdre but its special character reflects the presence of a mélange other grape varieties, albeit in small proportion, including Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir and Muscat de Hambourg. (The rosé is the exact same blend) Bottled after 18–24 months of aging in foudres and one year or more in aged barrique, it is assembled without filtration. The wine is a classic that deserves to be aged in order to best appreciate its many nuances: plum, pine resin, cinnamon, truffle and spice among other sensations. We invite you to share our pleasure.
|Chateau Simone Palette Rosé: The Château Simone Rosé is a wine that belies the notion that rosés are simple wines to be drunk up young. We have indulged ourselves with 10-year old Château Simone Rosé and have marveled at the tenacity, vibrancy and complexity of this very serious wine. The blend is identical to the rouge: 45% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, Castet, Manosquin, Carignan, Muscat Noir & Blanc. Aged in barrel, it is powerful and age-worthy with a steely character and a grey-tinted aura to the faded rose-petal robe. We import, on average, 1500 bottles per annum for the US market.|
|Chateau Simone Palette Blanc: The white from Simone is a truly unique creation based primarily on Clairette that is supplemented with Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc and a touch of Muscat Blanc. The white, brisk in its youth, animated by a bouquet of pine-resin, evolves slowly into a sensual masterpiece with its lingering finish built on a mass of minerality. This is a remarkably age-worthy wine with the potential to give ever-more pleasure over a span two decades or more. We have the pleasure of purchasing 2400 bottles per vintage for the US market.|
|Chateau Simone Palette Rouge: Those of you who know Simone realize that the red, a tenacious but ultimately elegant wine, is an equal, rather than dominant, partner to the striking rosé and the sublime white. Like the rosé, it is a blend primarily of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault but there are pockets of old-growth vines of Syrah, Manosquin, Castet, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat Noir that season the vineyards and add to the stunning complexity of these wines. The influence of Mont Sainte Victoire, its surface covered in rich pine forest, is apparent in the flavors and aromas of the red wine of Simone. Annually, there are 2400 bottles available for the US market.|
The story throughout the south of France for the 2018 growing season was similar: an inordinate amount of rainfall from February through June engendered a rash of mildew that had growers scrambling, treating between five and ten times as much as usual in many instances. The weather pulled an immediate about-face in July, turning remarkably hot and remarkably dry—conditions which persisted until harvest. This whiplash effect stressed both vines and vignerons, to be sure, but happily the quality of the rosés from Provence is generally outstanding in 2018. The higher amount of rainfall led to rosés not burdened by unwelcome heaviness due to hyper-low yields, but the dryness of the latter part of the growing season prevented a sense of dilution in the final wines. In general, the 2018 rosés from the south of France display impeccable balance, superb drinkability, and a streak of classicism that sets them above the 2017s.
France harbors a vast multitude of talented growers, fascinating appellations, and deep veins of viticultural history. Even among this embarrassment of riches, however, the Rougier family’s Chateau Simone is a true jewel—an estate with a singular terroir, owned by the same family for many generations, with no break in tradition along the way.
I spent a delightful morning with Florence and Jean-Francois (known as “Jeff” to Florence!) Rougier after departing from the early morning visit with Sylvain MOREY. The deep dive into Simone started with a trio of vintages of Grands Carmes Blanc.
Provence – A day for 3 Chateaux ….
CHATEAU SIMONE: what a lovely estate! Each time I visit (and, remember my first visit with the Rougier family was in 1981) I remain impressed by the impeccable grounds, the perfectly maintained cellar and ultimately the consistently excellent and idiosyncratic wines.
Kerry and I revisited this wine over the weekend, opening and drinking most of the bottle yesterday with an udon-based vegetable broth; then, again, tonight to observe the wine’s evolution. It is, actually, spectacularly good, a wine loaded with character, strongly lanolin, petroleum-laced, amidst the background menthol-pine aromatics and flavors.