After this never-ending winter, I am dreaming of warm weather. Thankfully, temperatures are slowly warming and the signs of spring are finally starting to appear.
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the emergence of rosé wines on wine lists and store shelves heralds sunshine, picnics in the park, and lazy days on the beach. Not too long ago, I was lucky enough to be enjoying such a rosé on a beautiful beach in Puerto Rico.
But the story actually begins much earlier…
In the early 1900s, the Livingston family established a grapefruit and coconut plantationon a vast swath of beachfront property in Dorado, on Puerto Rico’s north shore. It was managed for years by Clara Livingston, who took over responsibilities for the business at the age of 22, upon the death of her father.
After an adventurous life (she was the 11th female pilot in the world and a friend toAmelia Earhart) and nearly thirty years of managing the property, she sold it to Laurence Rockefeller, who created a modern, environmentally conscious hotel that attracted the Hollywood and political set with guests ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to John F. Kennedy.
Helping to create the luxury atmosphere was a Frenchman named Alexis Lichine, owner of Bordeaux’s Chateau Prieure-Lichine. A friend of Rockefeller, he created the hotel’s original wine list.
One look will make you weep: A bottle of 1948 Chateau d’Yquem was $7.20 and a 1952 Chateau Margaux went for $5.10. His own wine, the 1955, was $4.00. Today, you can get your hands on the Yquem for as little as $959 and the Margaux for $1,200.
It is also interesting that the wines are mostly French, with a few German whites and only one wine from the US – an “American Champagne” from New York. (That winery, Great Western, was established in 1860 and is known today as Pleasant Valley Wine Company.)
Dorado Beach was eventually taken over by Hyatt, who closed the resort in 2006. It was revived and reopened in 2012 by the Caribbean Property Group. When they started to develop the property, Kenny Blatt, Principal and COO, Hospitality, for CPG, says that the group asked them selves how they could make the property different yet connect the resort to its illustrious history.
As the company developed these strategies, Kenny and his wife went to Provence, in southern France, for a friend’s birthday party. Just before the trip, he recalls, the Wine Spectator had just come out with their Top 100 list. It included three wines from a Provence estate called Chateau d’Esclans, so Kenny called to set up a visit.
As they went through the tasting at the estate, their hostess mentioned the name of the estate’s owner, a man named Sacha Lichine. In what Kenny describes as an “unbelievably dumb coincidence,” he learned that Sacha is Alexis’ son.
The light bulb went off, and the idea to team up with Chateau d’Esclans to create a special Dorado Beach wine was born.
The Dorado Beach Chateau d’Esclans features a special label placed on bottles of the winery’s mid-tier cuvee. (Its Garrus Rose is the most expensive rose in the world, whileits Whispering Angel is an everyday sipper.)
The wine is a blend of grenache and rolle, crafted with just a hint of oak. It is bright and creamy with hints of fruit flavors dancing on the tongue. It was the perfect complement to the warm, sunny day outside.
Needless to say, I am ready to cast off my heavy, warming reds and slip into something pink. Who’s with me?