Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 29 April

Sacha Lichine from Château d’Esclans in Provence is recognised as the world’s foremost rosé producer

Wine Club 29 April
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It’s spring and that means it’s time for rosé. Sales of the pink stuff continue to rocket and we’re all out and proud rosé drinkers these days, darling. That’s not to say there aren’t some dire bottles on the shelves. Like that vile Blush Zinfandel from California (shudder) or the weirdly coloured one from the corner shop that glows in the dark and numbs your gums.

A fine rosé, though, is a wine of great beauty — and no rosés are finer than those from Sacha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans estate in Provence. The sole aim of Sacha and his partner Patrick Leon, former head winemaker at Château Mouton-Rothschild, is to produce the finest rosés in the world. Many believe he has succeeded. Indeed, the esteemed Matthew Jukes gave the latest vintage of Sacha’s Garrus a perfect 20/20.

The 2016 Sacha Lichine Single Blend is a charming blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah. It’s crisp, fresh, vibrant and thirst-quenching. There’s wild strawberry, herbs and a touch of spice — I can’t imagine a finer everyday rosé. £9.95, down from £10.95.

The 2016 Whispering Angel is a pale pink blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle (also known as Vermentino) that has everything: succulent hedgerow fruit, creamy citrus notes, keen acidity and a long, dry finish. One sip and you’re at a Provençal poolside. £15.95, down from £16.95.

The 2016 Rock Angel is more serious. Jancis Robinson chose the previous vintage as her top premium rosé and this is even better. A blend of Grenache and Rolle with a touch of oak, it’s full of wild strawberries, cream, herbs, spice and, well, sunshine. It has weight and character too. £20.95 down from £21.95

The 2015 Les Clans takes rosé to a different league. More akin to a top white burgundy, it’s made from 90 per cent free-run juice (of old vine Grenache and Rolle) and 10 per cent gentle first pressing. This is fermented in 600-litre barrels and aged for ten months in oak with bâttonage. There’s creamy white-and-red stone fruit, vanilla, citrus, spice and many more subtleties. £30.00, down from £31.00.

Finally, the oak-fermented/oak-aged 2015 Garrus, made from 80-year-old Grenache and Rolle. This is the wine that won Jukesy’s perfect score, and little wonder. There’s wild red fruit, yes, but also something meaty and mineral; something garrigue-like and herbal. There’s a spicy, savoury, even earthy, note, but above all, fresh, ripe fruit. It’s expensive but there’s nothing else like it. If you thought you knew rosé, think again. £64.00, down from £65.00.

There’s also a mixed case containing five bottles each of the Sacha Lichine and Whispering Angel, and two bottles of the Rock Angel. Delivery, as ever, is free

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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