2018 Château Simone, A.O.C. Palette Rouge. Provence, France.
The rare Palatte appelation tucked between the Luberon and coastal Provence is home to only a handful of small family producers, none more prized and sought after than Château Simone, who make a completely unique set of wines, including a fabulous Rosé, a white, which maybe the most coveted and this incredible deeply flavored Rouge, made from a wild array of varietals, which includes Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Syrah, Castet, Manosquin, Carignan, and even some white grapes. This 2018 is juicy rich on the palate with a classic field blend kind of character and even though you’d think it would be Rhône like, it is not, it leans more towards a Bordeaux or a Tuscan wine in feel with Marionberry, dusty plum, red currant, black cherry and blood orange, along with cigar wrapper, allspice, a delicate meaty note, grilled herbs, dark florals, sandalwood, graphite/stone and anise. Still tightly framed, firm and wrapped in ripe tannin, the Château Simone Palette Rouge opens nicely and is very expressive, though decanting would be best and it is best enjoyed with a hearty meal, like roast leg of lamb. This Mediterranean influenced wine is full of rustic charm and as well as having brilliantly judged contrast between fruit and savory tones, it should continue to intrigue enthusiasts for many years to come.

Château Simone, run by the Rougier family since 1830, is located on a limestone soils on a single hillside near the remote village of Montaiguet, a small town that sites almost exactly between Châteauneuf du Pape and Bandol, situated just east of Aix-en-Provence and 20 miles north of Marseille. The estate is highly regarded in the wine world, with the wines being very difficult to find these days, their importer to the USA is Rosenthal, and like Kermit Lynch, does a great job of promoting this iconic and distinctive producer. The Rougier family’s vines that face north to keep them from being over heated during the sun drenchd Provence Summers and allow the grapes here to retain good freshness and balanced acidity. The winery notes that all the grapes for this wine were hand harvested and 100% de-stemmed, then lightly pressed before a native yeast fermentation in stainless steel tanks. After alcoholic fermentation is complete the must was pressed and was racked into small oak casks for eight months, then wine was blended and put into larger barrels with mostly neutral oak. The Palette then went on to mature an additional year before bottling unfiltered. This 2018 Rouge is really coming into its own and I was thrilled to experience it and I do certainly recommend checking out this label as soon as possible, and as mentioned be sure to try their Rosé and white as well.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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