Meet the visionary who created the brand and brought the St Tropez rosé lifestyle to the world with his leadership team.
Born in Bordeaux and educated in America, Sacha Lichine has worked in every aspect of the Wine industry from production to final sale. He began working at his family’s former property, Château Prieuré Lichine and Château Lascombes during the summers of his youth from working the vines to dressing and selling the final product in the estate’s retail shop.
Sacha subsequently established, at the University level in America, a summertime job, between 1978 and 1982; Sacha Lichine International which was a luxury wine tour business to France for educationally hungry Americans that consisted of 3 week trips through all major wine villages and appellations in France as well as dining at the greatest gastronomic Michelin starred Restaurants within these regions. Sacha additionally worked at Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant in Boston as a Sommelier between 1980 and 1982. Following this stint, Sacha worked as a Salesperson and Buyer at C. Pappas & Co. wine wholesalers in Boston between 1982 and 1983.
A wine Brokerage and distribution company, Caribbean Châteaux, was established on Saint Lucia in 1983 to promote and sell his selections to all major luxury hotels and resorts in over 18 islands and operated until 1987.
In 1985 Sacha was hired as an Imported Wine Specialist in Beverly Hills for Southern Wines & Spirits of California. In 1987, a defining moment in Sacha’s career came about when he started running Prieuré Lichine at age 27. Additionally, Sacha worked with his father Alexis Lichine to update the renowned Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits. In 1990 Sacha started a negociant business, Borvin, focusing on selecting the best wines from Bordeaux and in 1992 Sacha became a Negociant in Burgundy forming Sacha Lichine Asscociates.
Recognizing the importance of innovation in an increasingly varied wine industry around the world, Sacha developed a line of new world wines from France, Sacha Lichine International/ Vins Sans Frontières which had roots in the selection of small Domaines, Vins de Pays and Burgundian wines under his name and distributed by the wine company Borvin Sacha Lichine International. The company also had a range of blended wines from the Languedoc and varietals from other regions in France marketed under Sacha’s name.
A pivotal moment for Sacha was his 2006 acquisition of Château d’Esclans in Provence. In keeping with his uncanny sense of innovation, Sacha felt that Rosé had strong developmental opportunities to become more serious from a production standpoint in addition to being served and consumed more broadly. The result to this foresight energized by an abiding passion for making and promoting great wine, has resulted in building a world class branded range including Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, Château d’Esclans, Les Clans, Garrus and The Palm by Whispering Angel. In the process, Sacha has provided a strong contribution to unprecedented growth within the Rosé category.
At the end of 2019, LVMH purchased a 55% stake in Château d’Esclans forming a strategic alliance with Sacha Lichine who, in retaining a 45% stake in his company, works closely with Moët Hennessy by further developing his range of luxury rosés via premiumization initiatives throughout the world beginning yet another remarkable chapter in Sacha’s dynamic career to date.
Wine is a way of life for Bertrand Léon who became Château d’Esclans and Whispering Angel’s Technical Director at the outset to our sixth Harvest in September 2011. Since then Bertrand, a graduate of Bordeaux Agriculture, where he studied Viticulture and Oenology has overseen eight of our thirteen vintages in this capacity.
As the son of our Founding Consulting Oenologist, the late Patrick Léon, Bertrand has learned from among the greatest mentors in the modern day wine making world in addition to working with and building upon a distinguished pedigree spanning across two wine making generations.
Bertrand brings to this an updated heritage which honors an approach of applying both traditional form and modern function to the way we make our barrel fermented prestige cuvées at Château d’Esclans while paying very close attention to producing Whispering Angel and ensuring that its quality remains consistent with on-going levels of growth as each year unfolds. Striking a balance between both is a challenge that comes naturally when meeting it because the Léon standard toward crafting great wines is something to which Bertrand is a key part. This is evidenced by his contributions towards making two-thirds of the vintages to date not only from Château d’Esclans but for Rock Angel, Whispering Angel and The Palm By Whispering Angel.
Continuity and greatness are part and parcel to Bertrand’s leadership. Both are a function of remarkable precision based on paying the highest level of attention to detail. Familiarity also plays an evolving role relative to understanding what consumers want and how to deliver that with every vintage while making consistently great wine.
For sure, there are many more Rosés on the market than there were when Sacha Lichine and Patrick Léon began making the wine in 2006. Towards that end, Bertrand’s commitment to consistency while balancing it with innovation is what ensures quality in the bottle.
Bertrand Léon, our Technical Director since 2011, is a graduate of Bordeaux Agriculture, where he studied Viticulture and Oenology. Having grown up in the wine business under the watchful guidance of his father, Patrick Léon, who served as Chateau d’Esclans’ founding Consulting Oenologist, Bertrand grew up participating in various summer jobs at Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Fieuzal. Today he runs his family property, Chateau Les Trois Croix.
Our passionate and talented Cellar Master, Jean-Claude Neu, a graduate of Lycée Agricole de Hyères, where he studied Viticulture and Oenology has held this position since the beginning in 2006. As the only wine making professional on staff at the time Sacha Lichine launched Château d’Esclans and Whispering Angel, Jean Claude’s enduring tenure speaks for itself.
His exposure to overseeing the day to day management of our Cellars initially under Patrick Léon and then with Bertrand has indoctrinated Jean Claude to uphold all standards and practices that have been put into place by the Léons.
That being said, his role is an integral one which not only makes his support invaluable but ensures that his talented staff mirror the approach which has unmistakably become that of our unmatched wine making style and culture.