Few categories of wine are humming at the forefront of the American palate as strongly as the sprightly pink juice known simply as rosé. Long a byproduct of trying to make better red wine, today producers across the globe are growing grapes of all red varieties specifically for the cause, and the results are increasingly exciting, from bright, acid-powered versions that aren’t much darker than water to richer styles that bring ample fruit and spice to the glass.
Santa Barbarans have always enjoyed a heightened awareness of the joys of pink wine thanks to our nearby wine country. But if there’s one brand that can be held responsible for the rest of the country’s fascination with rosé, it’s definitely Whispering Angel, made by Château d’Esclans.
That’s the winery founded 10 years ago by France’s Sacha Lichine after he left his family legacy in Bordeaux and purchased a pink-focused property in Provence, considered the ancestral home of rosé. About 20 percent of Provençal rosé purchased in America is Whispering Angel, and this year, production of the $22 bottle is expected to approach 335,000 cases, with more than 60 percent of that exported to the United States.
And that’s exactly what Lichine was betting on when he ditched opulent reds for racy pinks. “The name sets a theme that resonates with the English-speaking consumer market,” admitted the winery’s director of communications, Thomas Schreckinger. “That said, it is agreeable enough to activate interest. Once tasted, most everybody agrees that it is very difficult not to like.”
Whispering Angel is just one of dozens of brands foreign and domestic being poured at the Biltmore’s Summer Tasting Series on Friday, June 10. Tickets are $69. Future events include Red, White & Brew on July 22; Sunstone Sunset on August 26; and Harvest featuring pinot noir on September 23. Call (805) 565-8232 or visit fourseasons.com/santabarbara.