Why Château Simone is Essential
French fine wine is synonymous with terroir, the notion that the land and climate leave their fingerprints on a wine. But for all the talk of terroir, it is interesting to note just how few French wines truly deliver on the promise, let alone blended French wines, and — frankly — wines from the South of France, where increasing temperatures often leave wines blown out with alcohol.
But Château Simone is different. Very different. Located just southeast of Aix-en-Provence, one would expect that the warmth of Provence would foster a heavy-hitting Grenache and a laser-focused, carnation-pale rosé. But instead, the estate's unique microclimate and trend-defying winemaking style, lend us an entirely different story in the glass.
Understanding the wines is fairly straightforward. There is a one of each: a red, a white and a rosé, as well as two grand vins, a blanc and rosé. Each wine is a blend, with the two blanc being most heavily focused on a single variety, Clairette, at 80%. But there is a subtlety and gentleness in the glass that I have never associated with southern France, and much of that comes from the fact that the vineyards face north and are persistently brushed by the wind. A nearby forest preserve — owned and managed by Château Simone — increases the biodiversity and also keeps ambient temperatures cool relative to the surrounding Côtes de Provence. Lastly, a majority of the vines are exceedingly old, lending each element of the blend noteworthy complexity.
These elements alone would be reason enough to include Château Simone on a list of France's most idiosyncratic wine estates. But it is the Rougier family's centuries-old commitment to hands-on winemaking practices that round out the picture and lend the wines an added sense of grace. When I asked the family if there were any changes they've made to recent vintages, they simply replied "One doesn’t change a method that has brought such beautiful fruits. On the contrary, our concern is to stay as close as we can to the practices that forged the character and renown of Château Simone wines."
This is the Provence of old. No "yacht wines" to be found. Just old-vine, old-school elegance.