Pretty in pink, delicious to sip - rosé has quickly become our wine of choice. And how apropos for our 2021 Fleurs de Villes ROSÉ global show theme! This delicate wine has taken the world - and a new generation of wine lovers - by storm.
Provence (north east of St. Tropez in France) produces more rosé than any other style of wine. Based in Provence, Château d’Esclans started the movement back in 2007 when the market for rosé was a tiny sliver of the overall wine business. Sacha Lichine acquired the storied estate in 2006 with a vision to create the greatest rosé in the world. His innovation and foresight set off a “Rosé Renaissance” where, now, Château d’Esclans wines are acknowledged as the world’s best. Today, their most well known brand, Whispering Angel, is also the industry sweetheart, while its sister brand, Garrus, is the most treasured.
Yet, in 2007, rosé was viewed as a frivolous summertime drink to be enjoyed poolside. That first year, the Château d’Esclans team sold just 800 cases in the United States. But then the delicate pink hue and refreshing taste found fans in a new younger generation who weren’t interested in old school cocktails or spirits, and the results were spectacular. Sipping rosé became a lifestyle choice, featured on menus, selling related products (glassware to t-shirts) and spawning a global pop culture social media hashtag - #roseallday.
How does a rosé differ from a white or red wine? Some believe that it started with a blending of the wines but that’s not the case. The difference comes in the “skin contact”, known as “maceration”, when the grapes are crushed and their skins soak with the juices. The initial juice that runs out of the grape is clear. It’s the amount of time allowing the two to soak together with the skin colour bleeding into the juice that determines the yellow, red or rosé shade.
Winemakers juice red grapes and then allow a short maceration period - anywhere from two to five days - to create that signature pale pink tone. When the winemaker determines the perfect shade, the skins are removed and the juice continues to ferment.
Château d’Esclans went on to create a new elevated category of rosé by treating it very much like a fine white Burgundy made with ancient vines and meticulous fruit selection with top quality fermentation practices.
But we can’t talk about the stunning rosé wines without acknowledging the exceptional estate itself. Château d'Esclans lies in the heart of the Department of Var where the majority of Provence AOC rosé is produced. (The region is also world renowned for its lavender fields, best viewed full bloom in July.) Its heritage stretches back 2500 years when the site likely served as a lookout to spot intruders sailing into the Gulf of Frejus. Only the cellar remains from the original structure (known today as the oldest in the region) that dates to the pre-12th century. Today, Sacha Lachine oversees Château d’Esclans with its 345 acres of treasured vineyards and a magnificent Château, inspired by a Tuscan villa design, built during the mid-19th century. The primary grape grown on the property is Grenache - the Château is known for its old Grenache vines which produce grapes that offer greater concentration of flavour than younger vines. To learn more about the time-honoured production process, visit https://esclans.com/process/
If you’re vacationing in Provence, you can visit Château d’Esclans and their boutique which is open year round. Tell them Fleurs de Villes sent you.