By Jen Shek Voon
When I caught up with Sacha Lichine, and a couple of his colleagues, one of whom, Tom Schreckinger, he has known for over 37 years, (and from way back, when Sacha was working in Boston for 5 years) for an exclusive interview at the Club Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, in the middle of May 2011 on a Sunday morning, the day before he was presenting for the first time in Singapore, as the owner of Château d’Esclans, his yearning rose wines, you could feel the chi of his personality exuding with his enormous charm.
And guess what! Sacha Lichine and his family shall be moving to Singapore, as permanent résidents, and will residing in a bungalow at the exclusive Bishopgate area. Sacha will putting his children in Singapore schools from August 2011. Sacha will focus his wine distribution base hère in Singapore for his Château d’Esclans wines (rose and reds) and other wine interests for Asia and the world, and he intends to also start up his wine investment fund hère in Singapore.
The very next day Sacha Lichine hosted a poolside party at the Mandarin Oriental, for leading hospitality and wine and beverage personalities in Singapore to taste the Château d’Esclans rose in magnum formats. He did it with a flair from the entry level Whispering Angel, fresh and fruity and just the right wine to welcome the tropical dusk and its charm, , to the Esclans with its partial oak vinification, which gestures your palate to an emerging complexity, to the top end, Garrus, very linted in supply (3 barrels per vintage). And it was a wonderful expérience.
Besides the whispering angels, pretty models dressed up with élégant petite wings, ail dressed in pink, to compliment the party’s thème, the high point of the launch must be the superb matching ofjust rightly cooked whole Australian abalone and sliced to be paired with a richly chilled glass of Garrus from the magnum. The Garrus was lush and creamy and with a distinctive minerality in the finish. C’est manifique in tasting values! And not just with the recall of Dean Martin’s version of 1953 Cole Porter song (from the musical Can Can) by that name. By ail accounts, Sacha was more than successful at pushing the envelopes of Provence rose.
When I asked Sacha why he did his early schooling in the US, when he was born in Bordeaux, he told me that his father was a naturalized American.The family crest has the Russian Bear, the American Eagle, and the German Wild Boar on it His father Alexis Lichine, emigrated from Moscow to the United States, where, and then from America to France during his youth. Alexis Lichine served with the US Army and took part in the August 1944 allied landings in southern France, and also joined the OSS.
Alexis completed his stint in the US Military as a Major and Aide de Camp to General Eisenhower. He marred a French Countess from Marseilles who moved with him to to New York with 200 hats. The marriage did not last long, and then Alexis married Sacha’s mother, a German lady. And now Sacha completes the globalization of the Lichine pedigree with his family footprint in Singapore with the third generation of Lichine, Alexis Junior.
Sacha was very astute and he managed, through his excellent relation with the French viticulture authorities, to purchase in 2006, Château d’Esclans, and part of surrounding land, known as La Vallee des Esclans ( the valley of the clans), some 267 hectares from a Swedish Pension Fund. And, in this process, he is able to begin a new historié future for this remarkable château and the entire area. The current château, was built in the 19th Century, based on a traditional Tuscan Villa design and was probably constructed by its first known proprietors, the brothers, Sauver Louis Ranque and François Alexandre Ranque de Villeneuves.
In my interview, with Sacha, I felt that Sacha has the family DNA and retained his father’s uncanny sense of innovation, right from the time when Alexis created the estate bottling System in Burgundy, Sacha’s current effort in the promotion and marketing of fine Provence rose and red wines, and, that rose, in particular, has the potential to deliver to passionate wine lovers the taste and flavors that they will enjoy. And Sacha will be proved right!