Chateau Simone, Palette (rouge) 2012
Removed from original wooden case
Chateau Simone Rouge is one of the few truly great wines of France that contains multiple grape varieties most even wine professionals have probably never heard of. Built on the backs of Grenache and Mourvedre, it also contains Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon—as well as such obscurities as Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, and Picpoul Noir. As with the white, some of the vines exceed 100 years of age, and the wine is a true field blend.
The red grapes are destemmed entirely, and fermentation takes place in cement vats, with a maceration period of 20-25 days, during which remontage (pumping-over) is performed once per day to achieve a gentle extraction of tannins. As with the Blanc, the Rouge is aged one year in old foudres, followed by one year in small barrels, but it is left to rest one year in bottle before being released.
A classic vintage of Simone Rouge presents like a hypothetical blend of great Cote-de-Nuits red Burgundy (think Chambolle or Morey) and old-guard Bandol. Unlikely bedfellows perhaps, but the wine somehow combines the best attributes of northern and southern French reds: grace, elegance, and aromatic nuance, but also ruggedness, wildness, and spice; red fruit and silk, but also sun-warmed earth and smoke.
The incoming 2012 is particularly enchanting in its relative youth, with a ripe black cherry core flanked by an intense but elegant garrigue element reminiscent of the greatest Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and a mineral/acid union that provokes involuntary salivation. This should reach its apex 10 or 12 years after the vintage and hold there for some time, but it will be a pleasure to drink at any point before then as well.