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The Master Winemaker 100: Sacha Lichine, Château D’Esclans

The drinks business recently published a guide celebrating the talent of the winemakers who have scooped the highest accolade of our  Global Masters tasting series, which is judged almost exclusively by MWs. Each week we profile the winemakers behind these medal winning wines – the creatives, scientists, mavericks and dreamers who are at the pinnacle of winemaking.

Sacha Lichine, owner, Château D’Esclans

Born in Bordeaux in 1960 and educated in the US, Sacha Lichine has worked in every aspect of the industry from production to final sale. He started running Prieuré Lichine in 1987, and bought Provence estate Château d’Esclans in 2006. He created Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, and Château d’Esclans.

What or who inspired you to become a winemaker?
Growing up in the business and spending the summers of my youth at Château Prieuré Lichine and Château Lascombes instilled a sense of passion that inspired me to build my professional career. Having the opportunity to learn about wine this way and under the influence of my father, Alexis Lichine, made wine a way of life. This was enhanced through working in the vineyards, observing the process relative to how grapes turn into liquid nectar.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
Knowing how to make wine and knowing how to sell it. There are few in the business who know how to do both. Creating a beautiful noble product and having the opportunity to drink and enjoy it. To drink what you make and make what you drink.

What’s the hardest part?
Dealing with unknowns. As an agricultural product all of the climactic risks are nerve-wracking. From a business perspective, as you are dealing with a luxury product the hardest part is paying attention to an accumulation of detail that has to be closely monitored, making it critical to never miss a beat on a plethora of fronts.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
Either a Bombay Sapphire Martini “up”, shaken with olives, or our rosés or a glass of French or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Make sure that you start as early, from the youngest legal age as you can, drinking quality. Buy a corkscrew, travel and never stop learning. A great expression that my father had, which has been a guiding mantra in my life, is to not follow trends but to start them.

Which wine-related achievement are you most proud of?
Creating a category relative to giving rosé the distinction of handily capturing new consumers and outpacing change in the contemporary wine landscape.

Who is your inspiration in the wine world today?
It’s a multitude of people. Beginning with my father, Mel Dick, president of the wine division of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Michel Rolland, Jim Allen, a mentor and former senior vice-president at Southern Glazer’s, the late Patrick Leon, my former consulting oenologist, with whom I created the Château d’Esclans range, and many more people.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
On the sea overlooking a beautiful, swimmable beach, with great terroir.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

Red wine over 14% ABV that’s over-concentrated, over-extracted, unbalanced and gives little pleasure. It is like putting a Shetland sweater in your mouth. No thank you.

How have your wine tastes changed over your career?
They haven’t changed but evolved. I love the great wines of the world.

Master medals

  • >  Rock Angel Cave d’Esclans Domaines Sacha Lichine 2018 (Rosé Masters 2019)
  • >  Les Clans Chateau d’Esclans Domaines Sacha Lichine 2017 (Rosé Masters 2019)
  • >  Garrus Chateau d’Esclans, 2017 (Rosé Masters 2019)
  • >  Chateau d’Esclans, Garrus 2014 (Rosé Masters 2019)
  • >  Chateau d’Esclans Garrus 2015 (Rosé Masters 2017)
  • >  Rock Angel 2014 (Rosé Masters 2018)

To buy a copy of The Master Winemaker 100, please click here.

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