20 Feb 2023

Drinks Business Master Wine Maker 100 2023

Born in Bordeaux in 1960 and educated in the US, Sacha Lichine has worked in every discipline of the wine industry, from production to final sales. He started running Château Prieuré Lichine in 1987, and bought Provence estate Château d’Esclans in 2006. Since then, he has 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.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
Knowing how to make wine and how to sell it. There are few who know how to do both. Creating a beautiful, noble product and having the opportunity to 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 climatic 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 not to 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, Alexis Lichine; 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 Léon, my former consulting oenologist, with whom I created the Château d’Esclans range, followed by his son, Bertrand Léon, who has been my technical director for more than a decade. Beyond that there is also a select group of many others.

‘A great expression that my father had, which has been a guiding mantra in my life, is not to follow trends, but to start them’

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, overextracted, 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.