I’ll be honest - I’m not a big fan of Rosé. Maybe it’s because I don’t really ever relax and can’t appreciate wines meant for casual occasions. I don’t think that’s the real reason, because I appreciate all manner of “lesser wines” that one can drink with abandon. And, ultimately, most Rosé falls into this casual consumption category.
However, there’s a second category of Rosé that I positively detest. The “prestige Rosé” - the one that people often claim can age, and, in fact, taste better with age. They also cost a lot more money. Oten in the $40s, $50s and $60s, the feeling is that you’re buying a “serious Rosé,” which seems to me to be an oxymoron. Why would anyone want that?
But, even I have to admit, there are a small handful of these types of wines that can and do age and that merit the higher tariff. In fact, the Château Simone Palette Rosé is exactly this type of wine, and may be my favorite Rosé in all of Rosé-dom, which is a rather expansive universe these days!
To say that Ch. Simone’s Palette wines are riding a wave is an understatement. After decades as one of France’s greatest wines, to be found in connoisseurs’ cellars and on the tables of 3-star Michelin restaurants, it has finally started to catch on here in the States. The mineral, complex and fascinating Blanc is surely the wine of the Domaine, while savory and refined Rouge has nothing to be ashamed of. However, the Rosé, one of France’s most regal and unusual, compelling and complex, has an identity that is utterly unique and impossible to ignore.
Simone’s rosé is always produced from the same plot of old vines—an interplanted mélange of various varieties between 50 and 100+ years of age. Primarily Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah, there’s also Carignan, Muscat Noir, Manosquin, and Castet in the mix, and the grapes are pressed and aged together. The north-facing orientation of Chateau Simone’s distinctive amphitheater of vineyards ensures an elegance and acidity rare for this warm southerly climate. Produced half from direct-press juice and half via saignée, Simone Rosé ferments naturally—the Rougiers have never inoculated a wine, fearing any outside influence on the robust yeast population of their labyrinthine subterranean cellar—and is aged on the fine lees in a combination of well-used foudres and demi-muids for the better part of a year.
Whatever the factors, this is one of the most remarkable wines in all of France. Always released with an extra year of bottle age, the complex, peacock’s fan of flavors and textures is impossible to define - waxy and mineral, refreshing and yet lush, savory, with watermelon rind fruit flavors, underpinned by something decidedly umami-ish.
I have never been adequately able to describe this wine. I only know it is among the most distinctive and complex wines I have ever tasted. 2016 is a heroic vintage in Palette and the zen-like balance of this wine is deeply impressive. Only 1500 bottles make here to the US annually. We have a bit more than 12% of that here at the shop. I can’t imagine you can find any serious quantity of this anywhere else.
Don’t miss out.
2016 Ch. Simone Rosé
Neal Rosenthal: “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.”