Wine for January – Château Simard, Saint Émilion 2005
“I like Claret. Whenever I have Claret I must drink it, – ’tis the only palate affair that I am at all sensual in….Other wines of a heavy and spiritous nature transform a man into a Silenus: this makes him a Hermes – and gives a Woman the soul and immortality of an Ariadne.”
-John Keats, Letter to George and Georgiana Keats, 1819
For 2017 we treated ourselves to a mixed crate, carefully curated for us by From Vineyards Direct.
We opened this wine in an unfair flurry.
“From Vineyards Direct have a special offer on for this wine – only the 2000 version” said the Saucy Dressings’ Chief Taster, “and I want to try this first to see if we should succumb to the temptation. Both 2000 and 2005 are good years”. But days went by and we couldn’t open it because of this…..then that… Finally, returning late after a long car journey, we opened it, leaving the poor wine with minutes rather than hours to gasp in some air.
We could taste immediately that it was an interesting complex wine, but as well as lacking time to breathe it was also too cold. We tucked into our warmed-up food, chatted, and then tried again.
Fifteen minutes later it had radically improved and its personality was starting to blossom. This isn’t a smooth Bordeaux (or Claret as it is frequently known in Britain) – lots of tannins, but treated well it develops a rich, chocolatey velvetiness. It has alcohol content of 13.5% so it has a bit of power behind it.
The Cabernet Franc grape
Château Simard is made from 80% Merlot grapes and 20% Cabernet Franc grapes. Cabernet Franc grapes are specifically grown to blend with Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon – they are a bit lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon and give a slightly peppery note – contributing some of the complexity of this wine perhaps (some 49-57% of a Cheval Blanc – the leading estate in St Emilion – is composed of Cabernet Franc grapes). Cabernet Franc grows well on gravel – found scattered over the alluvial plain in St Emilion as well as in a more concentrated bed to the north-east of the region.
The St Emilion appellation
Château Simard is managed, and now owned by Alain Vauthier, also owner of renowned Château Ausone.
Both Château Simard and Château Ausone are in St Emilion, an area which is one of the most prolific wine producers in Bordeaux with some of the finest vineyards situated within the sloping limestone of the town of St Emilion – a very pretty location, well worth a visit. Other vineyards are situated further down on alluvial soil (with gravel) between the town and the river Dordogne.
What to eat with your Château Simard
Try roast beef, venison, duck, or a hearty British cheese – a Richard III Wensleydale for example – with this wine.
Try it with Venison Steaks With A Rich Chocolate and Blackberry Sauce.
You can buy Château Simard 2005 at £21.95 a bottle from From Vineyards Direct.