LA VIE EN ROSÉ

Cel­e­brat­ing the 10th vin­tage of its flag­ship rosé, Château d’Es­clans brings a taste of St.-Tropez to the States.

Capitol File - - CONTENTS - BY MURAT OZTASKIN

Great wine hinges on four el­e­ments, says rosé pro­ducer Sacha Li­chine, the bon vi­vant owner of St-Tropez win­ery Château d’Es­clans: the soil (that in­ef­fa­ble qual­ity called ter­roir), the grapes, the cli­mate, and, fi­nally, the wine­maker, whose craft har­mo­nizes all the other el­e­ments. The prob­lem, he adds, is that rosé is the most dif­fi­cult wine to make well. Luck­ily for Château d’Es­clans, Li­chine is per­haps the most prom­i­nent pro­ducer in the world.

Ten years ago, wine­mak­ers, restau­rants, and dis­trib­u­tors could barely give rosé away. But ex­ports of Provençal rosé to the US in­creased by more than 900 per­cent be­tween 2006 and 2015, with a 58 per­cent in­crease be­tween 2014 and 2015 alone. Now in its 10th vin­tage, Château d’Es­clans’s flag­ship rosé, Whis­per­ing An­gel, has come to epit­o­mize the clas­sic dry Provençal style. Much of the com­plex­ity is owed to bâ­ton­nage, whereby fine lees, or dead yeast cells, are stirred back into the wine, while new tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing ad­vanced re­frig­er­a­tion sys­tems and pneu­matic presses, keep the pro­cess­ing pre­cise, all cru­cial to the pro­duc­tion of “a prod­uct that is very easy to make av­er­age,” Li­chine says.

“The per­cep­tion of rosé in Amer­ica has changed dra­mat­i­cally,” says Aldo Sohm, chef som­me­lier at New York’s Le Bernardin, whose ac­claimed wine pro­gram is cen­tral to its three Miche­lin stars. “There’s a real fol­low­ing of rosé now, which didn’t ex­ist a few years ago.” Per­haps Château d’Es­clans’s great­est achieve­ment, says Li­chine, has been cre­at­ing wines whose ex­pe­ri­ences are evoca­tive of St-Tropez it­self—clean, crisp, so­phis­ti­cated, and fun. “What we’ve done,” he says, “is cre­ate a taste.”

Think pink! Château d’Es­clans’s Whis­per­ing An­gel epit­o­mizes the clas­sic dry style of Provence, where the wine has been pro­duced for 2,600 years, and con­tin­ues to lead the growth of rosé’s boom­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the US.

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