While Provençal rosé is generally considered an affordable, uncomplicated yet enjoyable wine, the rosés of Château D’Esclans are unique in the sense that they offer that experience…and much, much more. The wines of this Château represent a paradigm shift in the way rosé is made and enjoyed, offering four distinctly different wines at four distinctly different price points. It took a unique man with an inspired vision to accomplish this feat. Owner Sacha Lichine (pictured above right), son of Bordeaux legend Alexis Lichine, acquired Château d’Esclans in 2006. His roots had been firmly established in Bordeaux but following his father’s passing and subsequent sale of the family’s fourth growth Bordeaux estate, Château Prieuré Lichine, Sacha decided to make the leap from Bordeaux to rosé, a decision that definitely surprised some. To accomplish his goal of crafting a rosé like no other, Sacha knew he needed a winemaker that had spent his career on the forefront of vinous innovation, a winemaker just like Patrick Léon.
Patrick Léon (pictured above) is a Bordeaux native with an extensive education in Oenology. Even if you’re not familiar with his name, you’re probably familiar with his work. In addition to working with Sacha’s father, Patrick spent the majority of his career as Managing Director for Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. This position required him to oversee technical departments including the company’s vineyards and winemaking facilities for such well-known names as Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, Opus One in California, Almaviva in Chile, as well as other wines in the company portfolio. Needless to say, Patrick Léon was just the man for the job!
2013 Château D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé ($22): the entry level Château D’Esclans rosé is a blend of grapes grown from some of the most choice land in the surrounding region of La Motte en Provence. It consists primarily of Grenache, Rolle (aka Vermentino), Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouren. Both free run and pressed juices are vinified entirely in stainless steel and bâtonnage, or lees stirring, is performed twice weekly.
This wine is a crystalline pink in color with delicate aromas and flavors of bright citrus and red berries. It is crisp and refreshing on the palate with a snappy, clean finish – delightful!
2013 Château D’Esclans Cotes de Provence Rosé ($40): the second wine in the Château’s portfolio is made from grapes grown in the Château d’Esclans vineyard, consisting primarily of Grenache and Rolle. It is made entirely from free run juice which is partially vinified in demi-muids (600 L barrels) as well as stainless steel with a temperature controlled maceration.
This wine has a pale pink color and mineral-tinged aromas of white peach and red berries. On the palate a creamy texture accompanies pleasant cherry and strawberry flavors with a hint of lavender and spice. This wine most closely approximates a true Provencal rose and is a wonderful accompaniment to food such as charcuterie, salads and shellfish.
2012 Château D’Esclans Les Clans Rosé ($75): This is where the departure from traditional rosé really begins! The grapes for Les Clans are selected from old vines consisting primarily of Grenache and Rolle. This wine is made from 90% free run juice and 10% first slight pressing. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in new and second year demi-muids. Burgundian style bâtonnage occurs twice weekly for ten months to enhance creaminess and complexity.
This wine has fragrant aromas of red berries, white peach and spice and dazzles on the palate with layers of strawberry, cherry, spice and hint of lavender. The lovely complexity accompanies a luxuriously creamy mouthfeel followed by a long, lingering finish. This wine would pair beautifully with everything from rich seafood dishes to roasted chicken!
2012 Château D’Esclans Garrus Rosé ($99): the grapes for Garrus, the jewel in the Château‘s crown, are selected from vines grown from parcels bearing old vines consisting of Grenache and Rolle. This wine is made from 90% free run juice, and the alcoholic fermentation takes place in both new and second year demi-muids. For 10 months Burgundian style bâtonnage occurs twice weekly.
A beautiful rose petal pink color, this wine has heady aromas of raspberry, ginger and herbs. On the palate this full-bodied rosé exhibits flavors of red berries, vanilla and spice framed by tannins and acidity which synergize beautifully as the wine opens up. This wine is dynamic in the glass and very food-friendly with the potential to stand up to dishes with some heft including beef, lamb or other grilled meats.
All of these Château D’Esclans rosés are available at The Wine Atelier. They are unique and special wines and if you’re looking to expand your palate this is one excellent opportunity to do so!
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