Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 14 April

Three perfect rosés with which to welcome spring and summer

Wine Club 14 April
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It’s April and as I write, it’s still bloody cold and the fire’s lit. The other day I could have sworn that spring was on its way but it seems it’s been unaccountably delayed. It’s probably down to leaves on the line or some such guff about the wrong type of sunlight or the points having frozen. Sigh. It’ll be here soon. Until then, I can dream — and my dream of the moment is of plenty of sunshine and plenty of chilled rosé.

Thank goodness then for Sacha Lichine whose sole aim (and that of his partners, Patrick Léon, former head winemaker at Château Mouton Rothschild, and Patrick’s son, Bertrand) is to make the finest rosés in the world at his Château d’Esclans estate in Provence. And thank goodness for From Vineyards Direct for offering said wines here.

Last year was a fine but small vintage in Provence (down about 20 per cent on 2016) and lovers of Lichine’s celebrated Rock Angel, Les Clans and Garrus will be disappointed to learn that these were made in minuscule quantities, certainly too minuscule to offer here, more’s the pity. The good news is that the three wines we are offering are of tip-top quality — as good as I’ve had from d’Esclans — with (fingers crossed) plenty to go round.

The 2017 Sacha Lichine Single Blend (1), for example, is a complete peach of a wine. A gorgeous pale, pale pink, it’s a light, delicate and ridiculously quaffable blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. And it has character and backbone too, with plenty of wild strawberry fruit and just a hint of herbs and spice. It’s perfect for knocking back by a sun-dappled poolside. £10.45 down from £11.45.

The 2017 ‘The Palm’ by Whispering Angel (2) is a brand-new addition to the Lichine stable and I would urge you simply to ignore the hideous Russian hooker’s boudoir-inspired label and capsule if you can, and to feast your eyes instead on the delightful orange/pink hue of the wine. And to taste it of course — because it’s a cracker which sold out on initial release, FVD managing to nab the last 200 cases. A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah, it’s lusciously drinkable with both weight and freshness, and has a mouth-fillingly long and satisfying finish. As FVD’s Esme Johnstone says: ‘It breathes sunshine and summer.’ £13.95 down from £14.95.

Finally, the wonderful 2017 Whispering Angel (3) itself, the star in the Château d’Esclans firmament, judged by many to be the best rosé in Provence, if not the world. A typical blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, it’s a ridiculously seductive pale pink and simply oozes style and elegance. It’s citrus fresh, but commendably complex too, with fabulously ripe, juicy red fruit and a hint of spice. Goodness, I love it! £16.95 down from £17.95.

The mixed case has four bottles of each wine and delivery, as ever, is free.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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