With summer in full swing, it seems appropriate that rosé producer Château d’Esclans has released its 2021 vintage to keep you occupied — and your wine glass full — for the rest of the balmy season. But no matter what the weather happens to be, rosé has the magical tendency to suffuse every experience with sunshine and summer vibes.
A good one takes you poolside, chaise-lounging with plenty of friends and no access to the anxiety-clicks of a new Slack message. But the best rosés immediately transport you to the pristine climes of the south of France. There you’re bathed in sunshine à la plage, eating oysters fresh from the sapphire blue water of Saint-Tropez, which happens to be just southeast of the Sacha Lichine-owned Château d’Esclans.
Born into the business in Bordeaux, Lichine would work on his family’s property as a child. In 2006, he purchased Château d’Esclans, a beautiful sprawling property with over 100 acres of vineyards. The château can trace its foundational roots back to 1201. Turning something old into something new, the winemaker counts himself as an architect of the “rosé renaissance” that we’re all lucky to be currently living in. When he’s not sailing his boat, Snapper, which is moored in Saint-Tropez, Lichine is busy making exquisite rosé under the labels Les Clans, Garrus, Whispering Angel, and its edgy, leather-jacket-wearing companion, Rock Angel.
Rock Angel, the latest vintage from Lichine, should not be missed. Château d’Esclans goes to great lengths to ensure each and every grape that goes into its wines represent the peak flavor and ripeness characteristic not only of classic rosés but of its signature Provençal style.
Classic rosé is typically produced using the maceration method, where the red grape skins spend some amount of time in contact with the fresh juice. When it’s reached the optimal color for the producer, the rosy juice is separated into its own tank where it’s turned into wine.
The grapes are harvested primarily in the morning to avoid overheating. Then Lichine and his team use the latest technology, including the state-of-the-art Optical Eye Sorting machine. The ready-to-burst berries, primarily sourced from the estate, pass through this sorting to determine which are rejected for being over- or underripe. The 2021 vintage consists of Grenache, Rolle (also known as Vermentino), and Cinsault grapes from 20- to 25-year-old vines sitting on rocky clay soil.
From there, a soft crush is used for extraction as well as a drastic reduction in temperature to preserve freshness. Château d’Esclans uses nitrogen to expel nearly all oxygen to prevent oxidation of the product, and then the delectable juice is ready for vinification.
Where it slightly detours, much to the benefit of seasoned rosé drinkers, is that 30 percent of the wine is aged in French oak barrels for six months, while 70 percent of the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks. Once the wine is finished, rigorous testing in the lab occurs and the cellar master and other members begin the delicate process of blending the final product.
The result? A unique rosé that rivals any producers in the region.
The oak-aging provides a richer feel on the palate with a creamy finish coupled with crisp acidity, and notes of floral, spice, and berry that go perfectly with oysters, linguine alle vongole, Dover sole, or simply on its own at the end of the night. The extra time in the barrel gives the wine a high-energy vibrancy that will make you rethink rosé.
It’s appropriate that the Rock Angel label — designed by artist Hello Von — features a pair of wings.
The painstaking detail with which Château d’Esclans produces the elegant, complex rosé will transport you from anywhere in the world to Provence. Every sip tastes like the first day of summer in France.
There, the baguettes are fresh and plentiful, the water is clear and refreshing, the fruit is perfectly ripe, and the dinners are long and sumptuous. You and your friends, sun-kissed from a day on the beach, require a glass of something tasty, so you uncork a brisk bottle of Rock Angel. The night goes late, as it’s supposed to. You’re laughing, relaxed, and exactly where you need to be. So grab your bottle because it’s time to Rock.
This article is sponsored by Rock Angel.