Château d'Esclans is a beautiful estate in the Var, it covers 260 ha of which 47 are planted with vines. The owner is Sacha Lichine, former owner of Château Prieurie Lichine in Margaux, Bordeaux.
The exposure is south/south-west and the grape varieties growing here are Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle, Mourvedre and Syrah. Sacha's philosophy is to make the best rosé in the world and for this nothing has been spared.
Normally vineyards in Provence are planted with around 3-4000 vines per hectare but at Château d'Esclans the new plantings are made with a density of 6000 vines per hectares. This is also a factor that increases concentration and quality of the wine, and of course price (ranging from 15€ to 90€ a bottle).
All grapes are hand harvested in small 10 kg plastic boxes; this is to avoid the grapes being crushed and aromatic fruit compounds evaporating. As we all know, it is very hot at harvest time (August/September) in this part of the world and heat is not good if your focus is to retain freshness and fruit flavours in the wine. This is why the grapes are only harvested in the morning when they are still fairly cool from the night.
Once in the cellar the grapes are sorted at three different sorting tables, at the last one there are 12 people sorting grape by grape to make sure that only the best grapes go into the wine.The grapes are then lightly crunched before entering the press where the juice stays in contact with the skins for around 6-7 hours (this is what makes the wine pink). If one wishes to make a darker rosé the time on the skins is simply extended.
Then we come to a very interesting part of the vinification, the fermentation. Normally it is done in stainless steel vats or cement vats for rosé but at Château d'Esclans it is made in 500 l French new oak barrels under temperature control. Since the temperature is very low the fermentation takes several months and during this time, the yeast sediment that forms is stirred in the barrel to give richness and mouth feel to the wine.
The wines of Chateau d'Esclans are truly a different breed of Rosé in Provence. As Sacha says,´We have created a phenomenon in the region’ . The quality focus he has and also the high prices they charge have made other producers in the region realise what is possible and a trend that we can call Ultra-Premium Rosé of Provence is born much due to the vision and determination of Sacha Lichine.
There are four wines produced at the estate ranging from around 15€ for the Whispering Angel to around 90€ for the Garrus, depending on where you buy it.
2016 Whispering Angel
The nose is fresh with pure, sweet notes of peach, raspberry and strawberry. Dry, with crisp acid focused and pure fruit concentration and a linear structure and has long, clean, fresh finish. Unoaked.
2016 Château d'Esclans
Fantastic balance between slight nuttiness from partial oak ageing combined with jucy fleshy fruit in form of stone fruit, herbal scents and dried cherries. Long length and a great concentration.
2015 Les Clans
Creamy elegant nose with nectarine, peach and tangerine hints. Complexity added through soft sweet herbal spices and finely integrated oak. Palate showing excellent concentration and precision with a crisp acidity and long elegant finish.
Distinctive and elegant. Aromas of mango and nectarine notes laced with a hint of orange zest. Creamy palate yet with a firm and crisp acid structure. Impressive length and precision with a mineral back bone. A truly fine wine!
Original Article: Riviera Wine, The World's Most Expensive Rosé