Vinexpo, the Asian Rendition
by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
Château d’Esclans — Judy Leissner, the president of her family’s Grace Vineyard winery in China told me at lunch that the best thing she had tasted that day at Vinexpo was a rosé. I thought, okay, I’m a rosé advocate but I didn’t want to stray from my focus on champagne. Turns out, she dropped me off at Sacha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans booth. I took a bar seat and started chatting with Sacha, having no idea what the fuss was over his rosé and knowing even less who he was. Turns out his four rosés have been getting press everywhere and his name gives away that he is the son of well-respected wine figure Alexis Lichine. From Provence, all from the 2007 vintage, Château d’Esclans’ entry-level Whispering Angel ($20) is a simple sipping rosé representative of the Provence rosé style; Château d’Esclans ($40) is a mid-range option from 80-year-old Grenache and Rolle; then the next step up is a Les Clans ($75) for which the Grenache and Rolle are selected from 50 to 70 year old vines. These are topped by the price-shocker, Garrus at a whopping $100 from the best sites in the d’Esclans vineyard with old vines, 27% from 80-year-old Grenache. I enjoyed them all and have always had an affinity for rosé — and not just in the summer or just for sipping — but I’m not sure how to justify the pricing. Perhaps the older vines, vineyard site, and production method? I think we still have an expectation of how much a rosé should cost, whether this is a misconception that should be challenged or not. Well, that wasn’t my problem. Sacha seemed to have no problem with placement and sales of his wines. In fact, on the flight back, in the Financial Times supplement “How to Spend It,” John Stimpfig had a big feature on the new trend of expensive rosés. And just this weekend, Jancis Robinson’s rosé report had a solid paragraph on Lichine’s rosés. Robinson’s favorite, especially in terms of price-quality ratio, was the Château d’Esclans. I’ve also seen Sacha’s wines on restaurant lists more than once in the City since I my return from Asia. I asked him three weeks ago whether his rosés have ageablity thinking that might be a justification for the price. He told me, “I guess time will tell.” So, let’s wait and see. Meanwhile, I can always pick up a bottle of Whispering Angel for $20.