Good color, showing some maturity. The nose takes some time to open up, as the palate does to soften, but it does yield aromas of liquorice and leather. Quite austere at first, with firm tannins, but the texture fills out to give a stylish weight with good balance, showing a good tannic backbone. Very enjoyable, the structure cries out for food.
Chateau Simone is Palette; Palette is Chateau Simone. Well, more or less. The tiny appellation of Palette, one of France's oldest, having been established in 1948, covers just 23 ha. Seventeen of these are Chateau Simone, and much of the rest is pine forest with no likelihood of any deforestation in the near future. The sole estate in the appellation was planted in the 16th Century by the Carmelite sisters, who also excavated the cellars. The property took on the name Simone from a later owner, but since the 17th Century has been home to the Rougier family. Currently in charge are Rene and Jean-Francois, the seventh and eighth generations of this dynasty. The vineyards are populated with Grenache and Mourvedre, which make up 60% of the red cuvee. The remainder is a rag tag collection of other varieties, including the usual suspects; Syrah, Cinsaut, Carignan, for instance, but also some rarities such as Castet and Manosquin. Clairette dominates the white vineyards, with some Grenache Blanc and other varieties. The estate produces several cuvees, including red, rose and white. The red is an idiosyncratic wine, made from largely destemmed berries fermented in stainless steel or cement, before some time in foudres and then barriques. The wine is fined before bottling. The style demands time in the cellar rather than being one for immediate enjoyment. There is a rose of good reputation, a more substantial wine than many other local roses, with more grip and body, more akin to Domaine Tempier's example. No malolactic here (or for the white wines). The wine is filtered prior to bottling. Of the two white wines, the premier bottling sees eighteen months in barriques sourced from top Bordeaux chateaux.