Chateau d'Esclans history dates back to the Roman Empire. At the time, the property was a surveillance post to prevent potential invasions by sea. Chateau d'Esclans was first acquired by the...Read More
When Sasha Lichine acquired the 1,055-acre Provence estate Château d’Esclans in 2006, he set a rather ambitious goal for his team: to usher in a "Rosé Renaissance" and create the greatest pink wines in the world. The winery was modernised and innovative new techniques introduced, and shortly after Whispering Angel was born. The rosé wines of Château d'Esclans are every wine lover's summertime must-have's, ranging from classic poolside sippers to wines that rival the greatest wines.
As Sacha Lichine says: “In the Esclans Valley angels whisper. If you drink this wine, you might hear them… If you visit us, you might see them.”
The land upon which the Château d’Esclans estate is situated boasts a fascinating history, dating back up to 2,500 years, when it served as an important lookout point to spot introducers at the Gulf of Frejus. The actual château was constructed before the 12th century and was purchased, along with its original land in the Vallee d’Esclans by Gerard de Villeneuve from Marseille in 1201. The estate was eventually acquired by brothers François Alexandre Ranque and Sauveur Louis Ranque, who sold it to a match manufacturer named Joseph Toussaint Caussemille in 1875. Between 1955 and 1994, the property was owned by the Perraud family, followed by a Swedish pension fund that produced a limited quantity of wine, selling the grapes to winemakers in the area.
In 2006, the château began a new chapter in its history, when it was acquired by Sacha Lichine, whose family previously owned Château Prieuré Lichine in the Margaux appellation of Bordeaux. Sacha Lichine invested his time and energy into modernising the winery, introducing innovative new winemaking techniques, with the ambition to one day create the most revolutionary rosé wines of Provence. Shortly after his purchase of the chateau, the flagship rosé Whispering Angel was born. Since then, the estate’s portfolio has expanded to include Les Clans, The Palm by Whispering Angel in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence appellation, Rock Angel in the Cotes-de-Provence appellation and their prestige rosé Garrus, one of the most sought-after bottlings in the world of fine wine.
Today, Château d’Esclans remains a single estate property and produces Garrus, Les Clans and Château d’Esclans rosés. Lichine also founded a negociant company and winery named Caves d’Esclans, which produces the world-famous Whispering Angel rosé, The Palm by Whispering Angel and others from some of the best vineyards in Provence.
Château d’Esclans is situated in northeast of St. Tropez in the heart of the Provence region of southern France. The estate overlooks the Esclans Valley with the Mediterranean coast in the distance. Today, the property comprises 1,055 acres (427 hectares) in total, of which 345 acres (140 hectares) are planted with vines.
The vineyards of Château d’Esclans are planted on hills, where they enjoy a sunny, dry Mediterranean climate, but also sufficient diurnal temperatures to allow the grapes to retain acidity during the cool nights. As the altitude of the vineyards increases so too does the average age of the vines, and some of the estate’s highest vineyards are home to very old vines of Grenache aged more than 90 years. These low-yielding old vines produce grapes with concentrated flavours of red fruit, contributing to the signature style of Château d’Esclans rosés. Grenache is the primary grape grown in the vineyards of the estate, followed by the Vermentino grape. Other grape varieties cultivated here are Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Merlot and Tibouren, which are classic in the production of Provence’s finest rosés.
At Château d’Esclans, the harvest is carried out between sunrise and noon in order to protect the grapes from the hot daytime temperatures. The selected bunches are picked into small 10 kilo crates, which protect the grapes on the bottom from being crushed and oxidised.
Upon arrival to the winery, the grapes are manually sorted and then optically sorted. The grapes are destemmed and then sent through a system which reduces their temperature to 7-8 °C. They are gently pressed, producing three press fractions, which are then analysed to determine whether they will be used to produce a wine fermented and aged in barrel (like their famous Garrus and Rock Angel rosés) or fermented in stainless steel (like their Whispering Angel rosé).
To preserve the primary fruit aromas, Whispering Angel is fermented in stainless steel with some batonnage (lees stirring) carried out twice per week to enhance texture. The more premium Rock Angel is partially fermented in large 600 litre oak demi-muids, which lends a greater complexity and structure on the palate to this wine. As for Garrus, at the top of the line, this rosé is fermented in new and second year 600 litre demi-muids and aged for 11 months in new large French oak with Burgundy-style stirring of the lees (batonnage), which gives this wine a remarkable power and elegance.
Blending is crucial at the estate, with Sacha Lichine, Maitre de Cave Jean Claude Neu and Technical Director Bertrand Leon, closely overseeing the process. The Whispering Angel blend comprises primarily Grenache, Carignan and Vermentino, while Rock Angel blends Grenache, Cinsault and Vermentino. Garrus is produced from a single parcel of 90-year-old Grenache vines as well as some Vermentino.
Today, the rosé wines of Château d’Esclans and the merchant business Caves d’Esclans are recognised around the world for their fuller-bodied, dry Provence style.
The simplest, most accessible rosé in the Caves d’Esclans line-up, Whispering Angel displays a pretty pastel pink colour in the glass. The nose presents a refreshing bouquet of sliced apples, white peaches, cantaloupe and grapefruit, as well as floral touches. On the palate this rosé reveals a silky, lush and smooth texture and crisp acidity, along with flavours of ripe raspberries and salty citrus on the finish. Its fresh aromas lend this rosé as well as its “little sister” The Palm by Whispering Angel to a wide range of summertime food pairings, including salads, fresh seafood and Mediterranean aperitifs.
Barrel fermentation gives Rock Angel fantastic structure and complexity, resulting in a more premium style of rosé. Pale peach in the glass, this rosé offers intense aromas of raspberries, strawberries, nectarines and rose petals on the nose. The palate is creamy without being overwhelming with great structure and concentrated white fruit and candied lemon peel flavours. This broader, richer rosé will pair beautifully to your favourite grilled foods, like pulled pork sandwiches or sausages.
The Château d’Esclans prestige cuvee is Garrus, considered the finest rosé in their line-up. The old Grenache vines give grapes concentrated with flavour, while fermentation and 11 months of ageing in large French oak barrels results in a very powerful, elegant and full-bodied rosé with a very long finish. The nose reveals intense aromas of lemons, dried strawberries, herbs and spices. The palate is full-bodied but with a great tension, leading to a long finish marked by its saline minerality. A world-class rosé with a cult following, Garrus will shine on any table, full enough in body to pair with the noblest fish dishes, like a Branzino or swordfish steak.