TRAVEL RETAIL- Building a Legacy

Chateau d’Esclans, a wine-producing estate in Provence, produces fine wines that range from red and white wines to high-end rosé wines. In 2006, Chateau d’Esclans was acquired by a certain wine connoisseur named Sacha Lichine and the years that followed brought nothing but success.
Château d’Esclans’ Garrus 2006
Sacha Lichine was born in Bordeaux and educated in America. During his youth, he spent his summers working at his family’s former property, the Château Prieure Lichine in the Medoc region of France. At the age of 23, Sacha’s first enterprise was organising luxury wine tours in France, which helped facilitate the establishment of the Sacha Lichine Estate Selections for wines from the Rhone. He also worked as a Sommelier at Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant and then with an importer/ distributor/ wholesaler both of which were in Boston. Sacha then went on to work for Southern Wine and Spirits in California and in 1987 established a distributorship in Saint Lucia called Caribbean Château. During the same year, a defining moment in Sacha’s career came about when he started running Prieure Lichine at the age of 27. Lichine continued to run Prieure Lichine until he sold it in 1999. In 1990, Sacha started a negociant business, Borvin, which he still operates and which focuses on selecting the best wines
from Bordeaux.

Recognising 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 Frontiers, which today consists of a range of blended wines from the Languedoc and varieties from other regions in France. Lichine’s 2006 acquisition of Château d’Esclans allowed him to effectively reinvigorate the rosé wine category and make a solid contribution to this wine-making region’s pre-eminence. Having based himself in Asia since 2010, Sacha has recently put his efforts into developing his brands and relationships in that area of the world. The current success of Château d’Esclans can be attributed to Lichine’s knowledge of the industry and his combined work with a certain master winemaker called Patrick Leon.
Patrick Leon has unparalleled experience in making some of the greatest wines in the world. A Bordeaux native, Leon has an extensive education in Oenology and has studied this subject, as well as business management, to perfection. The former, in particular, led him to establish and run the Centre Etudes and Informations Oenologiques from 1965. In 1972, Leon joined Sacha Lichine’s father, Alexis Lichine, in Bordeaux as a purchasing manager for its French wines. Leon’s wide breadth of experience and knowledge helped him in becoming a consulting oenologist and in his work with Sacha Lichine. In addition, he held positions as a Technical Manager and Co-General Manager of Château Lascombes Crus Classé in Margaux and Château Castéra in Lesparre-Médoc. These positions went through the mid-eighties at which point Patrick would work with Baron Phillipe de Rothschild as Managing Director for the next 20 years. Towards that end, Patrick has been instrumental in overseeing the wine-making for Château d’Esclans and its collaboration created a range of world-renowned wines.
Tom Schreckinger, Communication Director, Château d’Esclans Sacha Lichine, explains that the company produces what has become, in six vintages, the world’s greatest rose consisting of a range of four wines. “Whispering Angel, its popular brand is wildly admired in key wine markets throughout the world. The three higher-end wines, beginning with the estate-bottled Château d’Esclans and leading up to Les Clans and Garrus, represent d’Esclans’ identity as a producer of superb rosé wines that are a cut above virtually all other rosé wines,” says Schreckinger. In addition to producing rosé wines, d’Esclans also produces an impressive red wine, Deesse. Similar to the roses, the red has raised the bar on how this type of wine is vinified with an eye towards outstanding quality.
In addition to the outstanding range of wines are its blended branded wines from the south of France. “These are crowd pleasing wines known as the Chicken Wines and Vin Sans Frontieres. The wines were conceived and launched in the early nineties. Accessibility and pleasure underscore the nature of these wines,” says Schreckinger. There are three “Chicken wines”, Le Coq Rouge (red), La Poule Blanche (white) and Le Poussin (rosé). The other line, Vins Sans Frontieres (wines without borders), consists of new world-styled wines made-in-France of which there are two, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Merlot. Schreckinger admits that these wines do the job of fusing the finesse of French wines and new world styles.
The red wine, Le Coq Rouge, is made from the best parcels in Thezan, Corbieres Masaussan, Beziers and Puicheric, and Minervois. It is 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 per cent Grenache, 10 per cent Merlot and 10 per cent Syrah. This wine combines the best of French winemaking knowledge with modern winemaking technology. The Le Poule Blanche, on the other hand, is a well-balanced delicate white wine with a wooded finish. This wine is composed of 60 per cent Chardonnay, 20 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 per cent Viognier. The last of the chicken wines is Le Poussin Rosé, which hails from the sandy vineyards of Camargue located near Aigue Morte on the seaside. The rose is round and well-balanced with
a finish of full ripe fruits.
Though the company might have to fend off competition from the wines of Cotes de Provence and value wines from the South of France, the main goal of Château d’Esclans Sacha Lichine is to continue to develop the multi-faceted yet focused enterprise that they currently handle. Its Middle Eastern achievements are evident with the product success they have witnessed in the region. The company’s bestselling product in the Middle East and Africa is the Château d’Esclans Rose currently stocked in Le Clos, the duty free store in the Dubai Airport and in Oman. Regarding new and upcoming launches in the region and across the world, Schreckinger explains that new bottles and labels will be used for Les Clans and Garrus to differentiate them as two of the highest-end wines of the d’Esclans range. In addition to the Les Clans and Garrus, new bottling and labels are also currently in the works for the Sacha Lichine wines.
The most important driving factor behind alcohol sales of any brand is consumer loyalty. Schreckinger attributes Château d’Esclans Sacha Lichine’s customer loyalty to quality third party endorsements from credible and authoritative journalists, and food and beverage professionals. These factors, coupled with the quality of products from Château d’Esclans Sacha Lichine are the main reasons that the brands see constant growth. The Lichine wine dynasty’s legacy has also managed to accumulate the interest of several celebrities over the years. Donald Sutherland, Michael Caine, Jerry
Lewis and the late Charlton Heston are a few celebrities that have personally visited Lichine.
Despite the international reception, Schreckinger admits that sales in travel retail and duty free markets, when compared to other domestic channels are smaller, but growing at a robust pace. Schreckinger’s plan of action to counter these statistics is to continue expanding in terms of the travel retail segment.