Château d’Esclans’ Portfolio of Elite Rosés have all arrived in the UK

2017 Whispering Angel, Caves d’Esclans, Sacha Lichine, Côtes de Provence Rosé, France

I have been tracking this wine since day one – and I mean eleven years ago when Sacha Lichine realised his dream to launch an elite Provence Rosé.  As every year rolls by Whispering Angel reaches out to thousands more palates.  Nowadays millions of bottles are made, but the remarkable thing about this wine is that while its fame grows exponentially, the quality in the glass continues to march forwards, too.  Made from Grenache, Cinsault, Rolle (Vermentino), Syrah and Tibouren, growing in vineyards surrounding the winery in La Motte en Provence, this is another sensual, silky-smooth, enthralling release and it comes in a vintage when there were many challenges during the growing season.  Perhaps a little more forward than the dramatic 2016, this wine is already drinking beautifully.  Whispering Angel casts its spell with unerring accuracy and it will continue to shine in the glass and impress all-comers throughout 2018.  17.5/20 (Drinking now) £17.95

2017 Rock Angel, Château d’Esclans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Côtes de Provence Rosé, France

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most serious and rewarding Rock Angel of all time and this, of course, includes the early years when it was called, simply, Château d’Esclans Rosé.  Borrowing a small slice of fruit from Garrus, the mid-palate of this wine is more intense and more profound than ever before and this gives it its own, marvellously well-defined character and accompanying attitude.  With so much more gravitas than its happy-go-lucky Angel stablemate, but a more immediately drinkable outlook than Les Clans and Garrus, this is the real deal for those in search of class and sophistication but without spending a fortune! 18.5/20 (Drinking now – 2020) £23.95

2016 Les Clans, Château d’Esclans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Côtes de Provence Rosé, France

There is precocity and coquettishness at the core of the first aromatic volley of 2016 Les Clans which prompted visions of Disney’s Tinker Bell casting a coral-hued spell on my senses.  The faint watermelon and Nashi pear notes are enchanting and these delicious themes are carried through onto the palate without losing an ounce of their allure.  Bright and light on its feet this is a sprightly Les Clans and it is another example of an Esclans wine with its trademark, scintillatingly succulent texture.  The mid-palate maintains the magical fruit characters and adds blanched almond notes (from the pristine oak barrels) and this serves to build the richness.  At no stage does this wine put on weight, transferring this latent power into length and energy.  This is a remarkably long Les Clans and it shows a more tender and musical side to its character by contrast to the striking attitude and impressive posturing of the 2015 vintage.  It is so refreshing to see each vintage come alive in these wines and when I was privy to a vertical display of both Les Clans and its sibling, Garrus, last year, the vintage conditions gradually accentuate with age showing that these noble rosés are indeed true wines of terroir as well as being the most exquisitely crafted pink wines in the world today.  19/20 (Drinking now – 2023) £47.96

2016 Garrus, Château d’Esclans, Domaines Sacha Lichine, Côtes de Provence Rosé, France

The difference between the two elite cuvées has become even starker since the ‘turning-point’ of the 2014 releases and this means that the decision is now not which of the two wine to buy each year, but how much of each can you manage to fit into your cellar.  They are so different and yet they are clearly descendants of the same dynasty.   The colour of Garrus is one micro-tone darker than that of Les Clans and, lifting the glass from the table, it is almost imperceptibly weightier, too.  This time Garrus leads with its armour – the fabulous, blonde oak barrels in which it gathers its thoughts and its depth of flavour while all the time jealously guarding its stellar fruit.  This is a spherical wine with a gossamer sheen.  It is also more supple and more engaging than I might have expected at this young age.  As I expected, it closed up for six months shortly after I first tasted it in summer 2017, but it has already emerged as a more gregarious and willing wine than the mighty 2015.  While there is undoubtedly a core of impressive strength here, like Les Clans, much of the mystery is kept late on the palate and this unravels very slowly into a ravishingly long finish.  This will be a typically long-lived Garrus, and it will show a more fluid and lively side to this label’s character than we have seen before, but don’t, for a second, take your eye off this wine because it will bite.  There is bright acidity here which is every bit as combative as in years gone by and, dare I say it, it seems even more finessed in this department than in any previous vintage.  This is a fascinating wine and one which I anticipate will prove even more successful to newcomers to Esclans than its preceding vintage, simply because the fruit is so damned stunning already.  (19.5/20 Drink now – 2025) £71.95