The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 44 of 152

WINE TRENDS Azure is the New Rosé THE OUTLOOK IS ROSY FOR SACHA LICHINE'S CHÂTEAU D'ESCLANS AND WHISPERING ANGEL by David Lincoln Ross PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU D'ESCLANS Sacha Lichine at Château d'Esclans, his estate near St. Tropez. Vinexpo figures forecast global consumption of rosé will rise by 7.6% from 2011 to the end of 2016, by which time rosé will account for 9% of all wines consumed. In the Château d'Esclans cellar, every barrel is individually temperature-controlled. I t's difficult enough to build a brand in one country, let alone globally. But channeling his late father Alexis Lichine's legendary sales moxie and expert wine skills, Sacha Lichine has defied skeptics. In a mere seven years, Lichine has gained distribution of Château d'Esclans's quartet of quality rosés from France's Côtes de Provence appellation in more than 60 countries thanks to numerous 90+ scores. With his popular Whispering Angel leading d'Esclans's charge, Lichine reports that worldwide sales will easily exceed 100,000 cases in 2013. Located inland less than ten miles from the beaches of St. Tropez on the Côte d'Azur (named after the sparkling blue waters of the French Riviera), Lichine's Château d'Esclans has jumped to the forefront of the Côtes de Provence appellation thanks to bold innovation. From the start, Lichine says he sought to create "a Burgundian-style Provençal rosé." A category still viewed by many as the ultimate summer or beach tipple, d'Esclans is now tinged (pun intended) with a new gravitas thanks to Lichine's paradigm-breaking vision. With the help of Lichine's consulting enologist, the respected Patrick Léon, former winemaker at Château MoutonRothschild, the duo have created a trio of oak barrel-fermented rosés—Château d'Esclans, Les Clans and Garrus—each a blend of estate-grown Grenache and Rolle (known as Vermentino in Italy). But some in the wine world say a rosé is a rosé is a rosé, and remain unpersuaded by Lichine's bid to make a serious wine. Undeterred and in an audacious strategy to gain maximum finesse, flavor and complexity, the team uses barrel fermentation for d'Esclans's three top wines—unusual but by no means original, as other rosé producers have utilized this practice for a portion of their rosés (see Oregon's 2011 Luminous Hills Aura Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir Rosé)—but unique to d'Esclans's trio of higher-level bottlings is that each and every barrel is individually temperature-controlled. Léon asserts that this approach is practiced nowhere else in the wine world. And it is this barrel-by-barrel control of individual lots that permits Léon, via 24/7 computer-controlled monitoring of each barrel, to attain the elegance a wine such as Garrus achieves; it is now the world's most expensive rosé, says Lichine, and retails for a suggested $100 a bottle. Entry brand Whispering Angel is 100% vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks; it retails for about $20 a bottle. Of the 2013 harvest, Lichine predicts, "This will be a more elegant vintage than 2012, something quite refined." While the property's top seller, Whispering Angel, accounts for the lion's share of its sales in the U.S. and abroad, it has been Lichine's ambitious focus on innovation for Château d'Esclans, Les Clans and Garrus that continues to arouse generous measures of praise and controversy. Château d'Esclans wines are imported by Shaw-Ross International Importers. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU D'ESCLANS 44  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2013 TP1213_034-63.indd 44 11/23/13 8:26 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - December 2013