SCENE BOSTON- EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSÉS: Provence Rosés of Sacha Lichine’s Chateau d’Esclans

By Len Presutti
CWE (Certified Wine Educator, Society of Wine Educators) and Corporate Wine Educator, Martignetti Companies

Rosés (especially dry Provence-style rosés) have become super fashionable as of late and for all the right reasons. They are a ton of fun in their own right, sporting delicious berry flavors (often strawberry, raspberry and cherry) made vibrant by way of refreshing acidity and complex with a beguiling wet stone minerality. They also provide for a bridge between white and red wine; something with many of the flavor characteristics of a red, yet chilled like a white. Perfect for
a hot summer day! They are also very food friendly, accompanying everything from mussels in a garlic-wine sauce to roast chicken to a burger and fries.
Sacha Lichine & Patrick Léon

Provence Rosés are now the largest growing category of wine imported into the
United States. It’s become such a presence that serious rosé? producers from around the world will often describe their wines as “Provence style”.
The qualitative leader of this party (best in show, so to speak) is Chateau d’Esclans, headed by Sacha Lichine, progeny of the legendary wine figure Alexis Lichine. Literally born into the wine business, he spent his summers as a child working at Chateau Prieure-Lichine, Alexis’ Margaux property, which he was placed in charge of at 27 years of age. There is also a Boston connection with Sacha. He once worked as a Sommelier at Anthony’s Pier 4. His acquisition of Chateau d’Esclans in Provence in 2006 allowed him to build a world class brand contributing mightily to the aforementioned dramatic growth in Provence Rose?s.
Critically important in the qualitative aspects of the wines of d’Esclans was joining forces with Patrick Leon, whose connection with the Lichines dates back to 1972. Patrick worked with Alexis Lichine on developing content for his books as well as acting as his purchasing manager until the mid-eighties when he was employed by Baron Phillipe de Rothschild of Cha?teau Mouton-Rothschild. He would serve as a Managing Director, overseeing technical departments including the company’s vineyards and winemaking facilities for Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Clerc Milon and Opus One in California (among others) for nearly twenty years. He now serves as Consulting Oenologist for both Château d’Esclans and Sacha’s other wine projects.
The following are a selection of the results of Sacha’s labors, including what many (I would count myself as member of that group) consider the best dry rosé? in the world, the Garrus.

2013 Château d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé? ‘Whispering Angel’
‘This rosé? combines the seriousness of real wine with the charm and seduction of rosé?Delicate and fragrant strawberry-like notes dance across the palate. Without a hint of sweetness, it’s positively fresh, invigorating, and long, all at the same time. Maybe I’m swayed by the long New England winter, but Whispering Angel is truly bottled springtime. Bring on a hearty salade Niçoise.’ — Michael Apstein Wine Review Online Rating:91 V $25.

2012 Château d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé ‘Les Clans’
Top of Form ‘Lovely nectarine, peach and tangerine hints are mixed here, with echoes of sandalwood and bergamot carrying through the long, detailed finish. A suave, creamy feel echoes throughout. Very flattering, showing serious range and length. Grenache and Rolle. Drink now. 750 cases made.’ The Wine Spectator. Rating: 90 V $78.

2011 Chateau d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé? ‘Garrus’
This wine received the highest rating ever given to a dry rose? by The Wine Spectator. They said of it… “A stunning effort, with aromas and flavors of dried pear, apple crisp and candied citrus that are reminiscent of fine white Burgundy. Powerfully spicy, showing crystallized ginger, dried sage and tarragon notes. Seductively creamy on the refined and intense finish. Drink now through 2017. 500 cases imported.” Rating: 93 V $100.

P.S. – Be on the lookout for Sacha Lichine’s 2013 Single Blend Rose?. It is made in the same facility as the Garrus, but costs just $12.00! The perfect summertime quaff.
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