The world according to… Michel Rolland, legendary French winemaker

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Drinks: Drinks
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The legendary French winemaker talks tractors, Parker and Argentina to Richard Woodard during a visit to Château Lagrezette in Cahors, where he is a consultant


“In the old days, a flying winemaker was just someone who went around the world giving people advice on their vineyards. Now there are many people doing it – good and bad. ”

“My family owned a vineyard and I have spent my entire life in wine – and I will until the end. ”

“I went to school and graduated as an oenologist. After that, I had ideas other than spending day after day on the tractor at the family property. So I set up a laboratory of oenology. ”

“Please don’t be Michael Broadbent. Please accept that modern is not pejorative. Because if we don’t accept that, we will continue to make bad wine, and I cannot follow this way. ”

“There is a best Bordeaux château every year and it changes every year. Sometimes it might be Cheval, sometimes Ausone, sometimes Margaux… ”

“If I couldn’t work in wine, I might be a priest or a playboy! Ha! Seriously, I had a neighbour who was a jeweller and I was absolutely fascinated by that. So I think I would do something with my hands, to have feeling, you know? ”

“I have a brother four years older than me, who went to school and is now a lawyer. He left the wine world completely. ”

“Malbec is a good grape: a good grape is able to produce good rosé wine, light but fruity, elegant wine, quite big wine or very smart wine like Pigeonnier, from Château Lagrezette. ”

“Everyone is completely lost with appellations. Who knows what 450 appellations mean? We have to simplify it to give a more direct message to the consumer. ”

“I don’t think Parker has changed the way people make wine. Parker and I, we don’t change anything – it’s just evolution. That’s life – that’s just life. ”

“Mouton 1945 is another era. Now I am another era too, but I am not finished yet – I am doing workouts to prevent that! ”

“For me as an oenologist, 1982 was the best vintage ever. I thought that one year I would like to do the same as 1982 with all we know now about making wine – and 2005 was that vintage. Now I have the set of two great years. ”

“2007 is not the best vintage in Bordeaux’s history, but we can still make really good wines. We don’t have bad wines like we had 20 years ago, because we are working much better. ”

“For wine, life and work, I would choose Argentina. Just for work, I would choose America because they are so professional there. Just for the wines, Bordeaux. But for all three – it has to be Argentina.”


… and michel rolland according to the world

  • ‘The world’s most famous wine consultant. The world’s only famous wine consultant.’ New York Times
  • ‘In the wake of the film Mondovino – in which he was portrayed as the chauffeur-driven Mephistopheles of globalisation – Rolland is also the most controversial winemaker. To his fans, he is a genius; to his critics… he ignores local conditions to produce a homogenous style… he is known as “Mr Merlot” in some parts of the world.’ Tim Atkin, The Observer
  • ‘Besides the fact that he’s a genius, he’s a lot of fun to have around.’ Andy Erickson, winemaker with Rolland at Harlan Estate and elsewhere
  • ‘Rolland is immensely likeable. Despite his success, he has no airs and graces.’ Jancis Robinson, MW

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – March / April 2008

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