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Classic Bordeaux

Celebrate the season with Chateau Simard 1999.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

How do you find a vintage of 1999 Bordeaux during the last month of 2011? Chateau Simard has practiced the art of aging wines from only outstanding vintages for at least 10 years before releasing them. And this 1999 Bordeaux is elegant, balanced and refined. Sumptuous, with smooth tannins this Bordeaux is a quintessential Saint-Émilion.

In addition to Chateau Simard’s aging program and traditional winemaking practices, this wine’s beauty can also be attributed to its vineyard location on the sunny southern slopes of Saint-Émilion. The vineyard’s Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines average 30 years in age—surrounded by the region’s first growth vineyards. This 98.84-acre hillside’s soil is a combo of clay, sand and gravel. And a deep water table forces the vines down far into the ground.

Originally owned by Count Simard, a railroad track was built in the center of the vineyard in 1870, dividing it into two parcels: Château Simard and Haut Simard. Afterwards the Mazière family purchased a small château and part of the Haut Simard vineyard parcel and decades later purchased the remainder of the parcel. In 1954, Claude Mazière assumed ownership of the Simard vineyard. The latest reclassification of Saint-Émilion was in 2006, and Château Simard’s vineyards qualified for Grand Cru classification. Yet Mazière valued his freedom and resisted the regulations that would come with this classification. He preferred instead to keep hand-selling each vintage to his loyal customers—as he had for decades. Today, his nephew, Alain Vauthier, is the sole owner of the winery. Vauthier’s approach differs from his uncle’s in that he will make multiple vintages of Château Simard available simultaneously. His goal is to release future vintages within four to five years of production and use the proceeds to reinvest in Château Simard. In 2008 Chateau Simard’s vineyard was officially classified as Grand Cru.

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