A Wonderful White Wine with Stunning Versatility

4 Jul

Yesterday we knew that dinner would be take-out after a long day at the store. I picked up food during the day, an eclectic combination of panko-breaded honey chicken, grilled veggies, 4th of July coleslaw and a kidney bean salad. I don’t know exactly why, but a Chateau Simone white (2006) that we’d been saving popped into my mind to pair with these foods. Chateau Simone is a blend of Clairette 80%, Grenache Blanc 10% and 10% of whatever other varietals are in the field. This is not a wine you’re going to find easily. During a visit to Provence, we visited Chateau Simone in large part because Lori’s sister is named Simon. The visit was exceptional, a story for another time, but I will mention that Chateau Simone has an AOC (Palette) created just for them, and their white wine has been served at Presidential dinners from the time of DeGaulle. All three of their wines (White, Rose and Red) are exceptional. Upon returning home we were able to get a mixed case from a distributor that had a relationship with the importer (in NYC) …..back to dinner.

We opened the wine (a 2006) and tried it.…excellent. Sitting down to dinner, we began to try the wine with each of the diverse foods. Not only did the wine get better and better in the glass, but it paired well with all the foods! This is amazing….typically a wine pairs well with only some of the foods in a dinner, especially one with a wide range of foods like the one we were having. In those cases, I make sure to drink water after eating the foods that don’t go with the wine….not the case for this dinner. The wine paired well with each food I ate, in different ways. The wine somehow mirrored and enhanced the flavors of each. Like a taste version of a chameleon, it adapted to each food.

In thinking back on our visit, we recalled that the Proprietaire Monsieur Rougier, when we asked him about pairing, said that the wines go any good food. At the time we thought that either he wasn’t into food pairing or that we made poor translations of his French…but now we wonder if he wasn’t totally aware of this special quality in his wines.

After opening Pairings Wine and Food, we haven’t brought in Chateau Simone because it’s unknown and somewhat costly. Now that we’re reminded how special the wines are, we’re going to see about bringing some in. In the worst case (?) scenario, we’ll have to drink the wines ourselves. Since the wines are ageworthy, that would be fine.

 

For those of you interested, the following write-up about Chateau Simone white is excellent, and expresses our sentiments well.

By Will Sugerman (will@amantivino.com)

There are some rare moments in the process of deciding what to bring into the store when we lose all sight of rational, business sense and simply fall in love with a wine. Blind, uncontrollable romance is the only thing that could justify the mass purchase of a $70 Provincial white that only the wine nerdiest among us have even heard of. This is not Puligny-Montrachet, of which even the most casual wine drinkers are vaguely familiar, but a blend of the seemingly unidentifiable Grenache Blanc and Clairette from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. For other zealots, it’s less of a romantic infatuation and more of a religious experience. When we told Neil Rosen, the longtime associate of importer Neil Rosenthal, that we were going to expose the latest release of the Chateau Simone Pallete Blanc to our best customers he lamented that there are not enough people “spreading the gospel of the Palette.” I recently took it to dinner with a group of wine geeks at the intimate village eatery August and the Simone was the star of the show. Somewhat surprisingly, the unctuous white paired just as well with the delicate Blue Point oysters as it did with the smoky, hearty Tarte Flambe, an Alsatian bacon tart covered in onions and creme fraiche. Not so surprisingly the wine showed its best after the check arrived, about three hours after we poured it, as the one smart drinker among us passed the glass that he had saved around the table for a final taste.

 

When we had it with the oysters the first impression was not fruit but a spicy, nutty, slightly oxidized character that comes from 18 months of aging in French oak barrels sourced from the best Chateau in Bordeaux. Right out of the bottle, the Simone’s racy acidity and persistent minerality made it clear that this was a wine that would play nicely with a wide variety of cuisine. As the wine opened up the fruit began to emerge from the spice and the minerals, with green apples, lime zest and orange pith revealing themselves. By the final sip the palate displayed a hearty, almost honeyed, viscous character that can only be found in a truly great white. The finish lasts forever, displaying notes of apple cider and bright minerality. With few exceptions, the Chateau Simone Palette will age as long as any white in existence. If it was beginning to show its honeyed-nutty complexities after a few hours in the glass, imagine what a couple decades in the cellar will do.

 

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