Jan. 28 is New Year’s Eve of the Chinese lunar calendar, heralding in the year of the rooster. The rooster is well represented in the world of wine, from the romantic notion of the marriage between chicken and red wine to create legendary French dish, coq au vin, to the more practical application of ‘chook’ poop throughout a vineyard in winter to add vital nutrients to the soil.
Coq au vin involves chicken braised in red wine, traditionally a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. It has been suggested the dish was served by the Gauls to Roman emperor Julius Caesar, and it has been a signature dish at Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel for more than a century.
Perhaps the most famous wine region when it comes to roosters is Chianti in Tuscany. As early as the 12th century, Tuscan wines from this region were famous. The Gallo Nero, ‘Black Cock’ is the symbol of Chianti and is at the heart of the logo of the ‘Consorzio del Marchio Storico’, the governing body charged with the task of protecting the integrity and quality of Chianti and Chianti Classico.
In 2002, California’s Hahn Estates released a cheap and cheerful wine labelled ‘Rex Goliath’, referring to the name of a 47lb rooster that toured Texas at the turn of the 20th century as the star attraction of a circus. Billed ‘The World’s Largest Rooster’, the label is a replica of the portrait of Rex that hung above his roost. The wine label has proven to be a giant itself, quickly growing to sell half a million cases per year before attracting the attention of one of the world’s largest wine companies, Constellation Brands, who acquired the brand in 2005.
Sasha Lichine is the son of wine negociant, chateau owner and wine writer Alexis Lichine, sometimes referred to as the Pope of Wine. Alexis famously wrote a book in 1962 reclassifying the vineyards and Chateau of Bordeaux, rectifying what he saw as the injustices of the original 1855 classification. Born in Bordeaux, Sasha now operates the negociant houses of Borvin and Vins Sans Frontieres, as well as Chateau d’Esclans in Provence.
Along with oenologist Patrick Leon, Lichine has a range of fun, fruit forward, well priced wines that are labelled Le Coq Rouge (The Red Rooster) a medium bodied red wine made with Grenache and Syrah, La Poule Blanche (The White Hen) a delightful Sauvignon Blanc, and Le Poussin Rose (The pink chick)a rose made from Grenache, Cinsault.
So as we welcome in the year of the rooster, there are plenty of wines to get excited about. Here’s to your health, wealth and happiness for the year ahead, cheers.
Darren Gall has spent a quarter of a century involved in virtually every aspect of the wine industry and the passionate pursuit of the next great bottle continues. firstname.lastname@example.org.