Stirring the lees… with Sacha Lichine, owner of Château d’Esclans
Rosé has become more than a wine, it is a lifestyle. In light of #nationalroséday, we take 5 minutes to speak to Sacha Lichine, owner of Château d’Esclans.
Sacha is the brainchild behind the success of the world class brands, Whispering Angel, Château d’Esclans Rock Angel, Château d’Esclans Les Clans and Château d’Esclans Garrus. Whispering Angel has been hailed the world’s most popular rosé, it’s sold in more than 100 countries and according to the Business Insider, Château d’Esclans produced 3.2 million bottles in 2016.
Château d’Esclans has a rich history, dating back to Gaullist times, the original cellar structure is the oldest in the region and dates back to 1201. The wineries primary variety is Grenache, well known for its old vine Grenache that delivers on great fruit flavour.
Since 2006, Sacha has strongly contributed to the winery and the region of Provence growing the Rosé category exponentially. We discover Sacha’s love and passion behind the wine industry and what makes him tick.
Who was your greatest influencer in the wine world?
My father – Alexis Lichine. Why? Because he was my father, the greatest teacher and influencer I have ever had. He was well known in the wine industry for his entrepreneurship and development of exporting French wine into the US market.
If you could pick 3 vintages of any of your wines to drink on a special occasion, which ones would you choose and why?
The 2017, 16 & 15 vintages because, as the years unfold, we learn more on how to improve the wines.
Where is the most unusual place you have seen your wine?
Served on planes in business and first class, British Airways, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and also at Basil’s Bar on the island of Mustique.
What makes the region of Provence so special to you?
In 2006, I started at Château d’Esclans Domaines and built a world class product – Whispering Angel. Since the beginning we have accomplished a lot and we still have so much more to achieve. The Provence is a special place to work, providing us with many opportunities. The future is very exciting for us.
If you were to be given a grant to set up a winery, where would you go and what would you plant?
This relates to the above question as to why Provence is so special to me, coupled with my commitment & heritage.
Rosé can be grand! At Château d’Esclans, our grape varieties are predominantly Grenache along with Cinsault, Vermentino, Tibouren & Syrah. Some of our Grenache vines are nearly a century old and on a select parcel that grow into Garrus, the estates finest rosé. A super-premium echelon has drawn a remarkable level of brand loyalty, validating one of my original contentions relative to reinvigorating this category.
Beyond that, the cellar renovation has been ongoing and we are integrating the most advanced technology, equipment and techniques. We are well positioned to produce outstanding wines and can see a fruitful future. If we were to start from scratch, we wouldn’t do things any differently from what we have already done.
Is there a particular wine that made you decide to pursue your career in your family wine business?
As a consumer my preferred style moved from big styled Chardonnays to the more refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. My palate played a role convincing me to make rosé in a similar vein.