Pale rose color with pretty aromas of lavender, rosehip, strawberries, cherries and cloves. It’s medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a supple, creamy palate. Perfumed and elegant. Drink now.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (Jan 2022)
About this WINE
Situated in the cool hills in the heart of Provence, Château d’Esclans has been owned and run by Sacha Lichine since 2006. Along with Patrick Leon (formally the Managing Director of Mouton Rothschild), Sacha set out to craft a world-class brand that aims at producing the greatest rosé on the planet.
This elevated site is most famous for its old-vine Grenache, much of which was planted in the early part of the 20th century. These vines are hand-picked as close to sunrise as possible and blended with equally cared for Vermentino. The top cuvées are then oak aged and capable of aging and improving for years.
Côtes de Provence
Reputedly the source of Louis XIV’s favourite wines, Côtes de Provence lies in the south-east of Provence and overlaps with the Var department. Coteaux Varois is sandwiched between two parts of the Côtes de Provence appellation; the enclaves of Cassis, Bandol and Palette are also nestled between pockets of land to the south and east of Côtes de Provence.
Eighty percent of the appellation’s production is dry rosé wine, distinguished by an inimitable pale-pink colour and elegant flavours. Cinsault and Grenache dominate in the region’s rosés, augmented with the occasional dash of the local, intensely aromatic Tibouren. The AOC regulations stipulate that at least 20 percent of a rosé blend must come from wine made using the saignée (literally, ‘bleeding’) method.
The remaining 20 percent of the region’s production is dedicated 15 percent to red and five percent to white wines. Following the Phylloxera epidemic known as the Great French Wine Blight in the late 1800s, much of Côtes de Provence was replanted with the high-yielding Carignan vine.
Since the late 1990s, a host of new, small, dynamic estates has started to focus on a new-wave style of red wines, characterised by full-fruit ripeness, concentration, and soft tannins and using ameliorateur varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are gradually replacing the once ubiquitous Carignan.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.