Chateau Simone, Palette Blanc, 2012

$52.99
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Chateau Simone

Most of the world’s greatest wines of terroir come from famous regions and have many neighbors against whom we can measure them. We know just how great Lafarge is (for example) largely because we also have de Montille and d’Angerville, not to mention a slew of lesser producers working similar plots. And we get even more perspective comparing Volnay with Pommard and Beaune, and even Chambolle and Vosne.

But not so, Château Simone. It is one of France's great domaines and makes incredible wines of terroir. But Château Simone has no neighbors and no peers.

It is virtually the only producer in Palette, its own private AOC near Aix-en-Provence. Being from the south, you may think their wines would have a lot in common with Bandol or Cassis, or maybe Châteauneuf. And maybe they do. But they don’t, really. Yes, these are wines of many contradictions.

They're in Provence, but the vines grow in a north-facing amphitheater surrounded by a pine forest—cooler and slower ripening than usual for the region. Thin soil and limestone bedrock accent the minerality, structure, and freshness that come from the old vines and wooded breeze. On some level these are cool-climate wines of the south.

The winemaking is natural avant la lettre, as they say. The Rougier family has been there for nearly 200 years and they have never introduced cultured yeasts. Farming has been organic for generations and everything is done by hand. But Simone isn’t part of the natural wine movement.

No, there’s nobody quite like Château Simone. And maybe that’s why such a great domaine has remained relatively affordable and accessible. Without a regional marketing push it has escaped many collectors’ focus. Without peers, it is that much harder to appreciate.

But Simone is worth the effort and the wines are worth collecting. Especially if you have patience. Young, they are delicious. Especially the rosé. But with time they all evolve into masterpieces. Deep and complex, they have echoes of many of the world’s greatest wines (Burgundy or Bordeaux to some, the Rhône to others); most of all, they have their own unique balance of limestone crunch, delicious fruit, fresh aromatics. They are mystically delicious with their profound sense of place.

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