While one of our main focuses here at Xtrawine is to provide as much exposure and information about the Italian wine industry as possible to our customers, we also want to make sure that each of you has a selection of some of the greatest wines from all over the world to choose from as well.
France has always been a country that has vied with Italy for the top spot when it comes to European wine production, and with good reason. Some of the greatest wines in the world have come from France and many can certainly stand up to the complexity or refreshing flavours offered by an Italian wine.
With that in mind, this week we thought we would set our sights a little further afield and explore a French wine and winemaker that may not have quite the reputation of some of the larger producers in the country. So let’s take a look at the history of Chateau D’Esclans.
The Chateau D’Esclans estate can trace its roots back for hundreds of years, with the original Chateau that was given by the Comte de Provence to Gérard De Villeneuve, in 1201. Located on a truly exceptional site, near elevated lands by the Gorges de Pennafort and only a few short kilometres away from the ancient Roman city of Frejus on the Mediterranean, the area instantly provides an enchanting view and truly wonderful surroundings, that are just perfect for growing some very interesting varieties of grape.
The first traces of the Chateau actually trace back to the times of the Gauls, when the area was believed to be used as a lookout point for them to spot intruders that attempted to invade the land by boat via the Gulf of Frejus. One can almost envision an Asterix and Obelix situation in some respects, only here the effort was much more serious. One slipup by the Gaul who was on watch and a group of Roman invaders may have been able to infiltrate the area.
It was not until the 13th century that the land found other uses. Long after the Roman Empire entered its conflict with the Gauls, Gérard De Villeneuve was granted the chateau on the property, much of which now makes up the cellar structure and foundation of the chateau that currently exists on the property today.
Gérard De Villeneuve took ownership of much of the land that surrounded the original chateau, eventually choosing to sell it off in lots over the years. It was not until the 19th century that the area would come under the complete ownership of somebody completely different, when it was purchased by Sauver Louis Ranque and Francois Alexandre Ranque, two brothers who names the area Terre d’Esclans.
The duo didn’t hold onto the chateau for long, making the decision to sell it on to Joseph Toussaint Caussemille, who has made his fortune as a matchmaker based in Marseille. Still, for all of the potential that the area exhibited, nobody had yet thought about using it to grow large quantities of grapes that could be used to create wines.
Caussemille eventually made the decision to sell the property himself and it eventually came under the ownership of the Perraud family, who owned it from 1955 through to 1994. It was not until they chose to sell that the true potential of the area began to be unlocked, as a Swedish pension fund, of all things, made the decision to start using the land surrounding the chateau to start producing grapes, some of which were used to make a small amount of wine, while the rest were sold to neighbouring winemakers so that they could be used in more recognized vintages.
This continued for a while and the Chateau D’Esclans estate gained something of a reputation for the quality of the grapes that it could produce, leading more people to consider the possibility of it becoming a major player in the French wine industry. With the acquisition of the property by Sacha Lichine, that ambition became a reality in 2006.
Today, the property houses 108 acres of vineyards out of a potential total of 659. A number of grapes are grown there, including Grenache, Vermentino, Cinsault, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Tibouren. All of these are used in the production of the Chateau’s greatest wines, with the Grenache being particularly favoured due to the vines being older than many of the other, newer varieties that have been introduced to the area over the years. This allows them to produce more flavoursome grapes, with the oldest vines in the chateau being somewhere in the 90-year range.
Located in the center of the Department of the Var, which is where the majority of Provence AOC Rosé is produced, the chateau has become famous for producing perhaps one of the best Rosé wines in the area. Here, we will take a look at it in a little more depth.
At first glance, the Chateau d’Esclans Chateau d’Esclans Rosè 2013 may not look like the most captivating wine in the history of the world. The pure salmon colouring may not draw the eye immediately to the wine, but be aware that those who choose to pass it over will be missing a true treat for the senses.
When brought to the nose, the wine offers notes of cherry and asmine, but the thing you will notice most are the herbal notes that offer a clearer picture of the land where this wine originated.
When introduced to the palette, the wine is beautifully mellow and very fragrant, as you would expect from a good Rosé. It offers dense flavours that are surprisingly, but certainly not unpleasantly, rich. You will enjoy a beautiful, well-rounded texture that envelopes the senses, with a surprising note of toast being present if you pay close attention to the wine.
Featuring a healthy mix of the many grapes that are produced at the Chateau d’Esclans, including Cannonau, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, the wine is perhaps the perfect representation of the potential of the area.