Elusive, Complicated Greatness
2010 Château Simone Palette Blanc
The more time I spend drinking Simone's Blanc the more I'm convinced that it's one of France's most mysterious and important white wines.
Simone's greatness is complicated, for sure. The easy comparisons are with Northern Rhône white and Bordeaux Blanc. But, in the end, Simone's Blanc really stands alone in its singularity.
In vintages like 2008 and 2010, Simone's Blanc represents some of the greatest value you can find in world-class, age-worthy white wines. Its elusiveness and sheer individuality translate to a ridiculous level of quality for the price.
If you want to see just how great Simone Blanc can be, the 2010 is one of the best places to look. Like it was for much of France, 2010 was an incredible vintage for Simone.
The 2010 is show-stoppingly beautiful. It's driven, long, elegant, and supremely clear. It's impossible not to imagine the 2010 aging amazingly well. When you taste it, you immediately think "I can't wait to taste this with a decade of age on it."
Simone's Blanc is a very textural wine. The palate is deeply complex with minerals, herbs, pine resin and various stone fruits. Here you see why the comparisons to Hermitage Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc seem so apt. There's also a regal stature and grandeur to the wines that places Simone Blanc in this company.
What makes Simone Blanc so distinctive, though, is the ultra-fine acidity that courses through it. Simone Blanc is unique in the South of France for the freshness and nobility that it offers. The explanation begins with the fact the Simone's vineyards are unusual in that they face north and thus, experience much less of Provence's intense sunlight. There's also limestone soils and the wine's elegance is something that I associate with limestone.
The Rougier family of Château Simone has made wine in Palette for two centuries and it's impossible not to think that their deep understanding of the terroir and their old vines help the quality, too. They define the tiny 43-hectare AOC of Palette, tucked into the very center of Provence (just south of Aix-en-Provence). The white wine is a blend, a magical brew of mostly Clairette along with Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, Muscat Blanc, Picpoul, Furmint and Sémillon, some from vines over 150 years old.
Simone Blanc is a special wine. It's one of the rare wines that creates its own category and shows an aristocratic breeding. The 2010 will go down as one of the best examples that we've seen of this wine.
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