LICHINE GOES FOR GOLD. By Antony le Ray-Cook
Rosé, a Thinking Man’s Wine? Certainly the World’s Most Expensive Rosé.
Ah! You are thinking that the lovely pink stuff one quaffs by the pool or on the beach is hardly a wine for thought. Quite right it is not, ’tis just for enjoying without a thought; but I am talking about an amazing Rosé. Sacha Lichine has made the first vintage of Chateau d’Esclans’ Rosé (2006).
There are four cuvees, Whispering Angel; Chateau d’Esclans; Les Clams; and the big grown up Garrus. Frankly each one knocks 90% of other Rosés into a cocked hat. But Garrus is something else; it really makes one think, just as a great Burgundy does. The colour is very pale, almost a vin gris. The nose is gentle with fresh fruits, light oak. And boy does the palate amaze, it is fresh with a touch of oak; rich yet light; long, yes as long as the M1 it just goes on and on; a very complex palate indeed, quelle balance.
Sacha gets the wine to such a high quality and complexity by ruthless selection. It is fermented in 500 litres new French oak barrels. Only 1,600 bottles are made so rush to the best wine merchant you know and try and secure one or more. They will cost you circa 78€ a bottle. If you are unable to get one and really want to taste this nectar, try the bar at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. But rush as it is nearly all sold.
19/20. That is a 95-98 in Robert Parker’s book. I get quite garrulous about Garrus, forgive me. So, I had better tell you about the other three wines.
Whispering Angel is well named, it is the lesser of four but it ain’t in the least bit below par. No quite the contrary, it is a super wine. Very pale in colour; a hint of wood on the nose; palate is spicy in its gentle way; very good; fresh and a good length.
Chateau d’Esclans, the third wine but another super example of what one can do with a Rosé. Very pale colour; nose of good fruits; palate is quite spicy, with hints of sweets, that is the richness of some sweets; very long, particularly for a Rosé, some wood, the finish takes me to Alsace with its wonderful spiciness. 15% is fermented in barrels: 50% Grenache, 35 % Cinsault, the rest is made up of Rolle and Mourvèdre.
Les Clans. Fermented in 500 litres French barrels with a light toast; very pale colour; nose has lots of wood but not too much; the palate is lightly spiced; long; some wood; good fresh fruits; the vanilla on the palate reminds one of Ice Cream Soda; a touch of acidity in the finish. Methinks that this quality of Rosé will set Provence alight, the ordinary vigneron will curse and swear about the prices achieved.
They should remember Alexis Lichine and what his influence had on Bordeaux. He went to Bordeaux went prices were cheap, property falling down as no one could afford a new Mercedes each year as they can today. Many today would be able to buy a new Rolls Royce each year; then they were lucky if the Deux Cheval kept going for another year. So now is the time to invest in Provence.