Endlessly Mysterious - Provençal Nobility
2008 Château Simone Palette Blanc
Château Simone occupies a grand and complicated place in the world of wine.
It's a wine that we love and are haunted by. It's a wine that's very difficult to situate and in the end, it probably just stands alone.
Just as an anecdote, when the 2008 got put on order, more than one of the staff bought bottles. I'm certainly looking forward to cellaring a bunch of this and watching it evolve over the next 10-15 years.
We tasted the 2008 right before the holiday craziness kicked into full gear. Everyone who tasted it was blown away. It's been almost four years since we've offered Simone's Blanc, which frankly is an unconscionably long time. There was no doubt about offering out the 2008. We've tasted a lot of Simone Blanc and this is a really impressive vintage for the wine.
Château Simone Blanc is very much a wine about texture. There's a wildly complex layering of minerals, herbs, pine resin and various stone fruits, but these are all carried by the wine's regal texture. If you think about some combination of Bordeaux Blanc and Hermitage Blanc you get a sense.
However, any comparisons you start making to Simone Blanc start seeming crude once you delve below the surface. For all its richness of texture, the wine has a fine, decidedly noble thread of acidity that gives it a cool elegance. For me, this goes a long way in explaining what makes Simone Blanc so singular. It was the acid spine that won us over so much with the 2008.
I can imagine that it's hard to reconcile the image of sun-soaked Provence with the idea of an acid-driven elegance, but that's exactly what Simone at its best pulls off. 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 fact that the Rougier family of Château Simone has made wine here for two centuries can't hurt either. They define the tiny 43-hectare AOC of Palette, tucked into the very center of Provence (a few clicks 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.
Château Simone's Blanc is one of the regal and endlessly mysterious wines of the world. The 2008 is easily one of the best examples we've tasted in the past decade.
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