You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Thursday 2 July 2015

Rolland: En primeur is a ‘game’

14th June, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

Bordeaux’s leading consultant, Michel Rolland, has admitted that the process of en primeur tastings and the resulting scores is a risky “game” for consumers.

Michel Rolland has admitted that the en primeur tasting and rating process is a risky “game” for consumers

Speaking to the drinks business this week at the UK launch of his new Spanish wine project, R&G, Rolland said: “You only get to the truth of a wine when it’s in the bottle, before that it’s a sort of game where the consumer can win or lose.”

Rolland was scathing about wine writers’ ability to accurately access en primeur samples, claiming that 99% of professional tasters get it wrong.

“Saying you know what a wine is going to end up like when you taste it after six months in barrel is like having baby twins and saying one is going to be a lawyer and the other a doctor – it’s impossible to know at such an early stage,” he said.

Despite this, Rolland doesn’t believe the en primeur tastings take place too early, as he doesn’t feel critics’ scores carry much weight.

“I don’t think scores are that important – if you look at the world’s top tasters, most of their scores are in alignment and people only care about the first, second and third growths anyway,” he told db.

Rolland praised Robert Parker’s provisional in barrel scores as he feels the truth of a wine can only be known after it’s been bottled

He did however concede that US critic Robert Parker got it right by offering a provisional score while the wines are in barrel and a definitive score when they’re bottled.

“Giving a range, such as 89-92 points, while a wine is in barrel helps account for the element of doubt that remains until the wine is bottled – you can never know the truth until then,” he said.

As Jean-Michel Laporte of La Conseillante explained to db earlier this week, Rolland said that the only difference between his en primeur samples and the final wines is the fact that he doesn’t add any pressed wines (as opposed to free run juice) to the samples.

“Most wines end up with around 10% of pressed wine in the final blend but we can’t put this into the en primeur samples as it’s too harsh and tannic and we have to show a drinkable wine that people are able to understand,” he said.

“You have to take care of some of the details without changing the fundamental character of the wine,” he added.

Rolland, who recently sold his family-owned Pomerol estate Le Bon Pasteur to Chinese businessman Sutong Pan, consults for wineries all over the world.

In terms of China’s winemaking potential, Rolland, who consults for the country’s biggest food manufacturer – Cofco – on its local and imported wines, believes China’s biggest handicap is its climate.

“From what I’ve seen, China’s climate is too prone to extremes ­– it gets too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and when it rains it pours but I believe the greatest terroirs in China are yet to be discovered,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Vinadeis unveils Languedoc 'black diamonds'

One of France’s largest wine producers has launched a high-end Languedoc more...

Parker retrospective boosts 05 Palmer

Château Palmer’s 2005 is the latest wine from that vintage to see an more...

Rise for Haut Bailly in Liv-ex 2015 classification

Liv-ex’s bi-annual “re-classification” of Bordeaux saw Haut Bailly leap more...

London Sales Manager / Key Account Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive - depending on skills and experience

Depp puts French estate on sale for £16.5m

Hollywood actor Johnny Depp has put his estate in the south of France, which more...

Shock over wine named 'dung' in German

A row has broken out over a decision by St Tropez's wine co-operative to name more...

Beaujolais pushes for sparkling AOC

Beaujolais is trying to gain AOC status for its sparkling wines which, with it more...

Social Media Editor

Competitive

Wine thieves go on trial

A gang of wine thieves accused of stealing a million euros worth of wine from more...

Hart Davis Hart biggest in US

Chicago-based wine auctioneer Hart Davis Hart is the market leader in the US in more...

BI offers 2014 imperial collection en primeur

Fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index is offering its clients a 10 imperial more...

Hatch Mansfield – Brand Manager

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary

Bordeaux wine thieves found guilty

A French court has sentenced 15 men over the audacious theft of $1.1 million of more...

Bordeaux 2005: Biggest movers

Expectation surrounding the 2005s is building and pushing up prices for top more...

The Tour de l'Oc in pictures

A pictorial report of the highs and lows of the Tour de l'Oc cycling challenge more...

Warehouse Supervisor

London, United Kingdom

£27,000-£30,000 depending on experience

En primeur: beware the heralded vintage?

From an investment point of view is it best to buy the “vintages of the more...

Bordeaux 2005: 12 ‘perfect’ wines

Twelve wines have been given “perfect” 100-point ratings in Robert more...

Castel feeds aperitif thirst

Europe’s largest wine producer, Castel, has unveiled a raft of new products more...

Sud de France launches Wine Hub

An "innovative" tool designed to support wine producers and importers operating more...

Vinexpo: five days 'too much' says organiser

Vinexpo doesn’t need to run for the full five days because no visitor stays more...

Robert Parker says sorry to Burgundy

Robert Parker has admitted to the drinks business that he was “too more...

E-commerce, Sales & Marketing Executive

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary and bonus package based on experience and qualification.

China recognises 'Bordeaux'

China has said it now recognises the term “Bordeaux” as a brand after what more...

Is Parker wrong about the 05 Médocs?

With no Médoc wines gaining 100-points in Robert Parker’s retrospective of more...