Jonathan Ray

Wine Club 30 April

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

Wine Club 30 April
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There is rosé and there is rosé. By which I mean there is the ghastly, teeth-rattling, vinous bubblegum that is Blossom Hill White (actually pink) Zinfandel from California, which you can pick up in Tesco for a fiver a bottle (plus £3.69 for the subsequent essential Alka-Seltzer), and there is the subtle, herbal, spicy, salmon pink Single Blend from Sacha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans estate in Provence, which you can nab for £9.45 a bottle with this offer. I know which I prefer.

Lichine’s partner at d’Esclans is Patrick Leon, the former head winemaker at Château Mouton-Rothschild, and their avowed intent (which many would say they’ve already achieved) is to make the finest rosés in the world (not to mention the most beautifully packaged).

The aforementioned 2015 Sacha Lichine Single Blend is delightful. Made from Cinsault and Grenache, it’s full of fresh wild strawberry fruit. It’s fruity but dry and nothing if not refreshing. It’s also sealed with a screwcap, making it ideal for instant access when the moment strikes. £9.45 down from £9.95.

The 2015 Château d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’ is a pale pink blend of several varieties but chiefly Grenache, Cinsault and (white) Rolle. There’s lusciously ripe fruit, plenty of acidity and an exhilarating, spicy finish. I loved it. £14.95 down from £15.45.

The 2015 Château d’Esclans ‘Rock Angel’ is Lichine and Leon’s best vintage yet of this sophisticated, complex wine. A blend of Grenache and Rolle, it has ripe fruit, a creamy smokiness, a touch of Provençal herbs and a fine acidity. FVD’s Esme Johnstone reckons it’s akin to a fine white burgundy in style and it’s certainly extremely ‘grown up’. £19.20 down from £19.95.

The 2014 Château d’Esclans Les Clan is pale, pale pink and really fine. Made from

90 per cent free-run juice (of old-vine Grenache and Rolle) and 10 per cent gentle first pressing, it’s fermented in 600 litre wooden barrels and aged for ten months in oak with ‘battonage’. It will not surprise you to learn that this is not how they make Blossom Hill White Zinfandel. This is serious stuff indeed, beautifully crafted and utterly delicious. £28.95 down from £29.95.

Finally, the onion-skin pink 2014 Château d’Esclans ‘Garrus’, a grand cru in all but name. Yes, yes, I know it costs the bloody earth but if fine rosé is your thing, you simply won’t find a better one. Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker, James Suckling, Matthew Jukes et al have all raved about it and rightly so. Made chiefly from old-vine (80 years plus) Grenache and Rolle, it’s fermented and aged for ten months in barrel and boasts extraordinary, brow-furrowing flavours of mushroom, truffles, strawberries, cream, herbs and goodness knows what else. It’s a

copper-bottomed belter and no mistake. £62 down from £65.

Written byJonathan Ray

Jonathan Ray is the Spectator's wine editor.

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