Monday, May 23, 2016

Rosé with Lunch

Guests (or most of them) toasting at the Rosé lunch at Michael's last Wednesday. Clockwise from bottom left : This writer, Paul Chevalier, Pam Liebman, Nina Griscom, Somers Farkas, Peter Brown, Gillian Miniter; the hand to right of Gillian is that of Emily Smith, and on the bottom right sits Susan Magrino.
Monday, May 22, 2016. Sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, sometimes rainy weekend in New York, with temperatures hovering around 70.

Susan Magrino asked me a couple of weeks ago if I’d be interested in attending a lunch at Michael’s (on a Wednesday) on rosé wine.

I thought “no” because I’m not an oenophile and New York has many who are. And while I am in awe of their knowledge and talent, I’m just not there.

Although I didn’t say all that to Susan because she’s a kind of connoisseur in her business which is publicity and public relations.

Then she added that the lunch was for Sacha Lichine who makes the Whispering Angel Rosé. As it happens Whispering Angel is the rosé that I like, and actually the only alcoholic beverage I drink these days.

It started a couple of summers ago at dinner at Sette Mezzo. Wanting a light wine, someone suggested rosé and Whispering Angel was brought to the table.  I liked the lightness. That’s as much as this non-oenophile can describe it. However, I have drunk other labels of rosé and still prefer this.

Also, it turns out that Sacha Lichine is a client of Susan Magrino; no surprise. His father was very famous when I was a kid, a wine tycoon, expert, and married in the mid-60s to Arlene Dahl — which made him famous to movie fans, i.e., the world.
Alexis Lichine and his son Sacha Lichine, circa 1978.
The Lichine family history is dramatically international. A tycoon, a widely published expert on French wine, Alexis Lichine was a child of the Bolshelvik Revolution that drove his parents to emigrate/escape from Russia to France.

The son Alexis began as a journalist writing about wines of France. Throughout the 1950s he published several landmark books on French wines and became one of the world’s leading experts. With several Americans including David Rockefeller, he jointly purchased a second-tier winery, Chateau Lascombes in Bordeaux, eventually transforming the winery into a first class operation renamed Prieuré-Lichine.
Chateau d'Esclans, Provence.
The son Sacha was brought up in New York, sent to boarding schools and leading the upper class life of a child of a famous tycoon. It seems that when he was old enough for college he was already interested in his father’s business. By the time he was in his 20s, he was off on his own and set up a wine import company importing French wine and wholesaling. 

Whatever his father thought of this venture is unknown to me, but in 1987 his father’s lawyer called Sacha and said something like “it’s time to come home.” Alexis Lichine was in bad health. The son responded by joining his father’s business.

Alexis Lichine died in 1989. Ten years later, in 1999, Sacha sold Prieuré-Lichine, leaving Bordeaux to look about for a winery in Provence, with the idea of developing a premium rosé wine. In 2006, he discovered Chateau d’Esclans outside the village of La Motte. He then proposed to oenologist Patrick Léon to work with him in developing a new rosé. This venture, at the outset, was regarded as foolhardy.
Sacha Lichine with his Garrus, 2015.
Rosé had long been a popular wine in summer months, usually regarded as “lady’s” wine because it is so light. Patrick Léon developed new ways to ferment the rosé wine. When the new rosé debuted in 2006, the wine critics were shocked and gave it high ratings. Chateau d’Esclans sold wildly (and continues to). Last summer in the Hamptons, for example, liquor stores had to put up signs “Out of Whispering Angel” because it had become so popular.

Sacha Lichine’s is a pioneering success story in his industry. This lunch at Michael’s was to introduce the word about Chateau d’Esclans newer rosé wines, namely Whispering Angel, Rock Angel and Garrus. Garrus was produced for the first time from a vineyard of 80-year-old vines atop a hill in Provence. The reviews are astounding. Some critics have called in the best rosé, “greatest rosé ever!”
The man, with Pam Liebman of the Corcoran Group.
All that just to get to lunch. Which was the reward. I’ve been lunching at Michael’s for about twenty years and obviously I like the menu but this menu combination on table when we arrived, was luxe.

We were suddenly at the table of a chateau in France. I mean, not really, but you get the idea in the middle of Manhattan, midweek, a gourmand improv that works: Raw Oysters with Mignonette Sauce; Gravlax, Brioche, Dill Aioli. Along with Whispering Angel  2015. Then: Maryland Lump Crabcakes in Beurre Blanc along with Rock Angel 2015. Then the entrée – a choice: Seared Dayboat Scallops, Fava, Creamy Morel Mushrooms or Chicken Paillard with Arugula, Parmesan Grilled Lemon. Served with: Les Clans 2014 and Garrus 2014. Ordinarily it would be time for a nap on someone’s yacht after such a table.
Nina Griscom and Emily Smith.
And a lot of talk. And not just about rosé wine. Sacha and Paul Chevalier, who is a wine agent and marketer who works with Chateau d’Esclans, talked about the differences of the four rosés that were served. I was careful because I’m not a midday drinker (makes me sleepy, and my days can be long). BUT, I have to say, it was a great pleasure for a Michael’s lunch.
What I got from the wine-talk was a bit of wine-tasting, searching for those elements that are within. Even if I got nothing I got to drink the rosé. But more than that it was the appreciation of the experts, these experts, and our host, who is also a contemporary business entrepreneur.
Our host talking rosé to the guests.
Somers White with Peter Brown, Gillian Miniter, and Emily Smith.
The guests, minus the photographer. That's Eva Lorenzotti on the far light.
Meanwhile over at Rosanna Scotto's table they were drinking Whispering Angel. Gladly. To the left of Rosanna, Linda Wells, and on her right Jane Rosenthal.
Christine Taylor joining in.
Paul Chevalier demonstrates how to hold a jereboam of Garrus in one hand.
Rosé wine, since Sacha Lichine got into it, coincidentally or not, is growing in popularity all over the world and especially in the American market – which is now the largest market in the world for rosé. I was told it is replace white wines in terms of popularity in France, and probably a lot more here too.

Michael’s was also jumping more than usual that afternoon. We were at the table in the bay but the room was roaring. At our table, Nina Griscom, Emily Hall from Page Six, Gillian Miniter, Peter, Pam Liebman, Somers White, Susan, as well as Paul Chevalier. It was all a pleasure at that sunny table on the edge of the clamoring crowd.
Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, Les Chans and Garrus just waiting for one and all.
Around the room: Jonathan Estreich, Joan Gelman, Martha Stewart with Alan Grubman, Cathie Black, Arriana Huffington, George Beylerian; Dianna Lipsig, Desiree Gruber, Dr. Gerry Imber and duh boyz; Jack Kliger; Alice Mayhew; Shelly Palmer; Clifford Press, Adam Schweitzer; Andrew Stein; Gillian Tett of the FT; Loretta Ucelli of the Pete Peterson Foundation; Diane Whitely, Entertainment Tonight Chicago; Mort Janklow; Steve Kaiser; Frank McCourt (former owner of the LA Dodgers); power agent Boaty Boatwright with Morgan Spurlock; Ally Wentworth with Ted Chervin; Sharon Bush with Becky Harrington; Richard LeFrak & Friends; Matt Blank with Steve Mosko; Don Peebles, and a lot more just like ‘em.
Martha Stewart gives our table a wave on her way out.
Meanwhile, over in Monte Carlo, INCC, a fragrance company based in Versailles, France, launched its MONACO Parfums at a cocktail party hosted by the Princess Grace Foundation-USA at the exclusive Crem Club. The event kicked-off a weekend of events hosted by the Foundation to help bring awareness to the programs it supports.
Monaco fragrance launch at the Crem Club.
The Princess Grace Foundation-USA is a non-profit, publicly supported charity, headquartered in New York City and established 34 years ago by Prince Rainier III of Monaco to honor his wife, Princess Grace’s legacy. Its mission is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging talent in theater, dance, and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships. Since its inception, more than 800 recipients have been awarded, totaling over $11 million.
Inside the Crem Club.
Guests including supermodel Victoria Silvstedt, Princess Grace Award winners Antonia Berasaluce, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer, and Lucien Postlewaite, a principle dancer with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, were greeted with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and mingled with INCC’s Thibaud de Vaulchier, Princess Grace Foundation-USA Board Member Sandra van Essche, Christine and George Ledes of BEAUTY FASHION and Cosmetic World, and members of Crem.
Antonia Gomez Berasaluce, Remy Desland, and Victoria Silvstedt.
Toby E. Boshak, Executive Director of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, welcomed guests by drawing the parallel between the fragrance and the Foundation: “Princess Grace exuded elegance, glamour, and like the fragrances, which are themselves inspired by the exceptional, the creative, and limitless boundaries, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA supports exceptional emerging artists so that they can flourish and experience limitless horizons in their careers.”

Other guests included: Antonia Berasaluce’s husband Jim Gorton and their daughter Isabel; Juliet Cullinan and Christopher Theo; and Lyn McHugh and James Davidson.
Catherine Thevenot, Patricia Leonard, and Christine Schott.
Lucien Postlewaite and friend.
Antonia Gomez Berasaluce, daughter Isabel, and husband Jim Gorton.
Juliet Cullinan and Ditha Muth.
Thibaud de Vaulchier, Toby Boshak, and Remy Dealandes.

Contact DPC here.