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Talking wine with Sacha Lichine

Published:Tuesday | February 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMKarrie Williams
Lichine's line of Rose.
Wine-maker Sacha Lichine (second right) rises his glass in a toast to members of his wine tasting party. From left: Giorgio Rusconi, director of Food & Beverage, Half Moon hotel; David Barber-operations director, Half Moon; Nesha Smith-accounts manager, Select Brands; and David McConnell (right) managing director, Select Brands.
David Lesli-restaurant manager, Half Moon hotel pours a glass of wine for Tania McConnell-corporate marketing manager, Select Brands and Steve Sowa, executive chef, Half Moon.
Wine-Maker Sacha Lichine about to savour his wines.

HE IS the toast of parties, gracing the lips of wine lovers across the globe with his exquisite tasting French-made rose's. But unless you know Sacha Lichine personally, you would never guess his accomplishments from his laid-back and unassuming nature.

Lichine was recently in Jamaica for a series of special wine-tasting soirées, celebrating his Rose brands of Whispering Angel, Chateau d'Eesclans, Les Clans and Garrus. But despite his busy schedule, the renowned winemaker found time to sit with Outlook and share his passion for the so-called 'drink of the ages', and also the skills that are necessary for making it in its most exquisite form.

"First of all, we make our wine so that we want to drink it in the event that we can't sell it," Lichine said, in reference to the elegant taste of his Roses, at a wine-tasting luncheon held in his honour at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay. "At the end of the day, we really make this for ourselves first and foremost. After all, every wine-maker should be able to drink his own wine," he added.

Though he has been around the winemaking industry since childhood - being from a family of accomplished winemakers - it wasn't until 2006 that Lichine started producing his own brand of wine. In so doing, he also repositioned Rose from what has been described as a former dull existence to where the category is now one of the most sought-after in the wine industry. In the French city of Provence where his Roses are exclusively manufactured, Lichine's achievements have not gone unnoticed. There, he is highly regarded as being responsible for the vibrant rebirth of the city's rose wines, which now boast a high demand internationally.

Lichine explained that the secret to making fine wine boils down to four main factors, all of which are interwoven, calling for a meticulous attention to details.

"There are four factors that go into the making of a good wine. You have soil, first of all, which you have to break down to its microfibre. Then you have to match the soil with the proper grape variety in the proper climate. It's what we did through experience. We understood what grows better in certain types of soils and climate and, after that, we put everything together," he explained.

He added, "It's also all about oxidation. It's the time from the grapes get cut to the time they come into the cellar ... . So the difference (with our wines) is all contained in a chain of links and an accumulation of detail. It's the most difficult thing we ever have to do, but we have lifted the category and we try to make Rose grand," he added.

Whispering Angel is currently the youngest of Lichine's wines, gracing the market in 2012. Garrus, which is the most aged, came out in 2006. Despite the overall youth of Lichine's wines, they are all very elegant tasting, light with a smooth texture, and perfect for all occasion, including an intimate nightcap.