MICHIGAN AVENUE MAGAZINE ONLINE

Château d’Esclans Talks 10 Years in Business & the Evolution of Rosé

Celebrating the 10th vintage of its buzzy flagship rosé, Château d’Esclans brings a taste of St-Tropez to the states.

Think pink! Château d’Esclans’s Whispering Angel epitomizes the classic dry rosés of Provence, where the wine has been produced for 2,600 years, and continues to lead the growth of rosé’s booming popularity in the US.

Great wine hinges on four elements, says rosé producer Sacha Lichine, the bon vivant owner of St-Tropez winery Château d’Esclans: the soil (that ineffable quality called terroir), the grapes, the climate, and, finally, the winemaker, whose craft harmonizes all the other elements. The problem, he adds, is that rosé is the most difficult wine to make well. Luckily for Château d’Esclans, Lichine is perhaps the most prominent producer in the world.

Ten years ago, winemakers, restaurants, and distributors could barely give rosé away. But exports of Provençal rosé to the US increased by more than 900 percent between 2006 and 2015, with a 58 percent increase between 2014 and 2015 alone. Now in its 10th vintage, Château d’Esclans’s flagship rosé, Whispering Angel, has come to epitomize the classic dry Provençal style. Much of the complexity is owed to bâtonnage, whereby fine lees, or dead yeast cells, are stirred back into the wine, while new technologies, including advanced refrigeration systems and pneumatic presses, keep the processing precise, all crucial to the production of “a product that is very easy to make average,” Lichine says.

“The perception of rosé in America has changed dramatically,” says Aldo Sohm, chef sommelier at New York’s Le Bernardin, whose acclaimed wine program is central to its three Michelin stars. “There’s a real following of rosé now, which didn’t exist a few years ago.” Perhaps Château d’Esclans’ greatest achievement, says Lichine, has been creating wines whose experiences are evocative of St-Tropez itself—clean, crisp, sophisticated, and fun. “What we’ve done,” he says, “is create a taste.”

By Murat Oztaskin