By Debra Meiburg
One of the fascinating price conundrums of the wine world is rose. Why do these charming pink wines find themselves perennially pummelled into the low end of the price spectrum while in Champagne rose command the region’s highest prices? Perhaps this is because many winemakers treat rose as an afterthought, a wine whipped up from their efforts to concentrate their flagship red wine. In a process known as saignee, or bleeding, winemakers ‘bleed’ light pink juice from their red-wine tank to create a higher skins-to-juice ratio for their premium red wine. The effect is like pouring light tea out of a fresh pot so that the remaining tea will be more flavoursome, deeply coloured and robust.
Not so at Chateau d’Esclans, where owner Sacha Lichine produces a rose-petal tinted wine that is consistently high quality and fetches some of the highest rose prices in the world. No stranger to the world of fine wine, Sacha’s father is the late Alexis Lichine, one of the leading 20th-century forces in French wine, and former owner of two prominent Bordeaux properties, Chateau Lascombes and Chateau Prieure-Lichine.
In 2006, Sacha Lichine threw his own dice on the table, acquiring Chateau d’Esclans, a property in the Cotes de Provence that encompasses a 19th-century chateau and 270 hectares, with some 40 hectares planted with vineyards. He recruited an old family friend, Patrick Leon, who had retired as chief winemaker and director of Bordeaux’s acclaimed Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. Lichine has made another bet, moving his family – including three young children – to Hong Kong, intent upon building appreciation for the affinity between his stylish rose and fine Cantonese cuisine. Their consistently high quality and versatility on the dinner table ensures they are an array to serve with pride.
All these wines are available at Jebsen Fine Wines (tel: 2926 2217)
Chateau d’Esclans, Les Clans, Cotes de Provence 2008
Excellent complexity comprising strawberry and raspberry nuances, with savoury dried herbal hints. A classy, round, well-integrated wine, showing elegance and maturity.
Chateau d’Esclans, Les Clans, Cotes de Provence 2009
Lemon and raspberry traces. A riper, more classic profile with verve and intensity. Excellent fruit ripeness. A beauty!
Chateau d’Esclans, Garrus, Cotes de Provence 2008
Subtle raspberry and floral intimations with pert acidity and a sandy hint of texture. This full-bodied rose could easily be confused with a high-quality white wine. Savoury notes and a bracingly bitter kiss on the finish.
Chateau d’Esclans, Garrus, Cotes de Provence 2009
Dried herbal highlights, delicate red berry fruit. Full-bodied and lightly textured, with tangy acidity and lemony nuances. A lovely, robust wine.
Chateau d’Esclans, Esclans, Cotes de Provence 2009
Restrained and minerally nose, with a creamy, round palate. Styled along the lines of a vin gris, with delicate hints of pink coral. A touch warm on finish.
Chateau d’Esclans, Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence 2010
Fresh, clean and dry, with strawberry hints and firm acidity. Unobtrusive and refreshing. Medium length.