Top 10 influential wine consultants10th December, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
2. Michel Rolland
Clients: Over 150 worldwide, but especially in Bordeaux, including Figeac, Pontet-Canet and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” châteaux Ausone, Angelus and Pavie. This year his services were secured by Vignobles André Lurton, which manages an extensive Bordeaux estate portfolio. Among a number of joint ventures are Clos de los Siete in Argentina, Bonne Nouvelle in South Africa and R&G in Spain. China’s state-owned conglomerate COFCO uses him as a consultant across its domestic and imported wine portfolio and he is also involved with Armavir in Armenia.
If you’ve heard of only one name on this list, the chances are it’s Rolland. “Amazing for the blending,” according to Daniel Cathiard of Smith Haut Lafitte, Rolland sometimes attracts controversy for promoting style over site – although he is as quick as any other consultant to deny that he uses a recipe. Nevertheless, if Parker points are important to your winery then the US critic’s palate often seems particularly attuned to Rolland wines.
What’s more Rolland’s influence is helping to drive debate within the wine trade on the merits – or otherwise – of an emerging trend towards “hyperselection” through the use of optical sorting machines.
“Michel Rolland is a big proponent,” notes Mark Andrew, senior buyer at Roberson Wine. Summing up the arguments for and against this modern addition to a winemaker’s toolkit, Andrew acknowledges: “initially it’s a good thing.” However, he argues that such pursuit of perfection in terms of fruit quality can prove counterproductive.
“I think you can take these things too far,” comments Andrew. “If you eradicate anything not 100% ripe then your alcohol levels will go up and you’ll have less acidity. By over-selecting you go after a style of wine that eliminates a lot of terroir signature.”