Our destination for the morning is Chateau D'esclans, a relatively new venture for Sasha Lichine, a larger-than-life figure whose family (his father was Russian immigrant Alexis Lichine) is very important in the recent history of French wines. At Chateau D'esclans, Sasha and his team are working to elevate rose above the status of a relatively simple wine only suited for sipping on the porch in summer. What we saw, heard and tasted on our visit there certainly converted all of us into die-hard believers and rose supporters.
Like everything about Chateau D'esclans, the grounds are stunning, opulent, and immaculately kept.
We started our tour in the cave, getting an up-close-and-personal view of the equipment and processes. From the very first we were impressed with the precision and unique blend of art, craftsmanship and technology they were using to ensure the highest quality and impart depth and richness to their rose wines. From the sorting of the grapes to the destemming to the pressing to the monitoring/controlling of temperature of juice through the entire process, the team at Chateau D'esclans is diligent (almost militant, you might say) about producing a repeatable but unique and elevated wine. After learning about the different steps and processes, we had a special treat...a barrel tasting in the cave. One of our hosts extracted samples of wine directly from different barrels with a pipette, then poured it directly into our glasses...he discussed the intricacies of the different samples (one was the first press, another was the second, anther had been aged longer than the first) and allowed us to taste...it was fun, interesting and oh-so-delicious!
We then moved on to a more traditional tasting, enjoying samples of their complete line of D'esclans rose...all a beautiful pink color with an amazing aroma...without a doubt, these were rose wines like no other.
The processes and techniques at Chateau Desclans were highly controlled and technologically advanced. Their diligence pays off...their rose wines are a beautiful pink color and taste amazing!
Next we headed into the Chateau for a lunch, hosted by Sasha Lichine himself...what an incredible afternoon. Sasha was a big man...full of life, stories and charisma. His home was gorgeous and full of the rich and colorful history of Sasha's family and their dealings in the French and American wine industry. We were also quite taken by Sasha's friendly European Golden Retrievers who joined us for lunch and flirted shamelessly with us all. I know I've said it on every posting, but it's true...this was just an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. This kind of personal and intimate view of the winemaker and the vineyard rarely happens....and it was such a treat. We all left totally enamored with the Chateau D'esclans rose wines and also with a little bit of a crush on Sasha.
Our lunch with Sasha (top pic, light pink linen shirt) was glorious...beautiful wine, delicious food and amazing stories!
We were all quite taken with our host Sasha...but we were especially smitten with his two beautiful European Golden Retrievers.
We reluctantly left Chateau D'esclans and headed out for our final outing...a trip to the small coastal town of Cassis where we were scheduled for a boat trip and dinner for our last evening together.
We climbed into a small boat, just the eight of us with our bus driver Francis. Our local boat driver/tour guide was personable and knowledgeable, giving us lots of history and colorful descriptions of Cassis and the Calanques, steep-walled cliffs of limestone that surround the Mediterranean in this area. We spent an hour touring the coast, reveling in the sun and the scenery. We finished our evening, enjoying aperitifs and dinner (local seafood, of course) sitting at an outside cafe.
We spent our final evening of the trip enjoying a boat trip off the small town of Cassis, followed by dinner sitting along the pier.
So, it's Saturday morning and we are all preparing to go our own ways, some of us on to more holidays and some headed home. It's been an amazing trip, with a lovely group of friends...once again, The Trip of a Lifetime!!
Rosie takes a final picture of our group in the out yard of Villa Glanum, our hotel in St Remy de Provence. We've had a great week!