FINANCIAL TIME Jancis Robinson about Château d'Esclans

Everything’s coming up rosé

by Jancis Robinson

“…But the more rosés I taste, the more I am convinced that the corner of the world that makes the best (and some of the worst) rosé is the most obvious place of all, Provence. Admittedly the sheer weight of summer tourist traffic throughout the region, from the Lubéron to the Italian border, sustains vast quantities of under-flavoured, often over-sweetened Provençal rosé, but the best examples – fine, delicate, herbily scented and satin-smooth – represent my pink wine ideal. From a base in the hills south of Draguignan, Sacha, son of the late Alexis Lichine who was one of the most cosmopolitan and energetic wine promoters of the mid 20th century, has effected a real coup in the form of his Château d’Esclans range. By airily suggesting that his most expensive bottling, Garrus, is worth over £60 a bottle, he has done the whole category a great service – from rosé producers’ point of view. Doubtless next year we will see all manner of outrageously priced pink wines. I have tasted Lichine’s recent bottling of the 2007 vintage of Garrus (suggested retail price £65), Les Clans (£45), straight Château d’Esclans (£22) and the most basic Whispering Angel (£15) and absolutely loved Château d’Esclans 2007 Côtes de Provence (£105.75 for six from Goedhuis next month) which seemed to me by far the best value. Whispering Angel shouted a bit too much for me, while the Garrus and Les Clans did not strike me as worth the premium. The regular 2006 (not 2007) is about £24 at Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and Nickolls & Perks.

Never have I come across a wine more suitable for a Glyndebourne picnic. The key to the indubitably superior quality seems to be particularly old Grenache vines, some 80 years old we are told, with pale skinned Rolle (Vermentino) grapes, and part vinification in large, old oak casks.” view original article