It wasn’t so long ago that most men wouldn’t be caught dead holding a pink wine. Fastforward to today and both men and women are drinking so much rosé that there is a shortage on the East End practically every season. The rise of “brosé” and the Fat Jew’s “White Girl Rosé” brand have been well documented. But who is responsible for this dramatic change in American tastes? The answer, according to wine critic Jay McInerney, is Sacha Lichine.
Lichine is the son of Alexis Lichine, who, “as an author, importer, and château owner, did more to introduce Americans to French wine than anyone since Thomas Jefferson,” according to McInerney. Alexis was known for hauling French wine to remote corners of the U.S. by Greyhound.
Because of his salesman father, Lichine grew up in Manhattan, not France, but spent his summers at Château Prieuré-Lichine, a Fourth Growth estate in Bordeaux.
He was introduced to rosé by his father in Monte Carlo. He drank it at the Hôtel de Paris, at the Prince’s Palace with Grace Kelly, and with Prince Rainier on his yacht. It was an education in wine that made him the perfect international ambassador for the pink wine of Provence.
In 2006, he purchased Château d’Esclans, a 667-acre, 13th-century estate that includes century-old cinsaut and grenache vines. He hired Patrick Léon, the former winemaker at Château Mouton Rothschild, and together they set out to create the world’s best rosé, according to Town and Country.
Ironically, it was the 2008 recession that changed the wine game and put Lichine’s rosés on top. Château d’Esclans was able to sell two of its rosés (Whispering Angel and Rock Angel) for significantly less than those of Domaines Ott — traditionally the best-selling rosé. And cash strapped consumers looking for a bit of glamour during the hard times bit.
Meanwhile Lichine was also making the most expensive rosé in the world: Garrus. He tells Town and Country that he “wanted to make the Dom Pérignon of rosés.” Garrus quickly became a cult wine among the ultra rich, and the popularity of wine trickled down. Now every serf and tsar wants a taste of the pink stuff.