Black Sea area offers greatest winemaking potential, says Michel Rolland

Of all wine producing regions in the world, it is those areas bordering the Black Sea that famous wine consultant Michel Rolland believes have the greatest potential for improvement.

Michel Rolland was in London on Tuesday this week to celebrate 30 years of working with Alain Dominique Perrin at Château Lagrézette in Cahors. Picture credit: Mariede Chesse

When asked by db during an exclusive interview in London this week where he sees the biggest possibility for improvement in terms of viticulture and winemaking, Rolland was quick to say that it wasn’t any single region or country, but those sites near the Black Sea.

“For me there is one area in the world where we are only at 30% of the possibility, and that is the Black Sea,” he began.

Continuing he said, “People may be talking a lot about Georgia, but it is not at the potential it can reach, and if you go to Turkey, Bulgaria or Romania, we can improve those wines a lot.”

As a consultant to wineries in Turkey and Bulgaria, he said that such countries were “just at the beginning”, noting that Black Sea sites could realise their full potential using either international grapes or native ones.

While he said that there was a long way to go, he also expressed his confidence that such places would realise their quality potential in the future.

Nevertheless, he added that he wouldn’t be around to see it. “I’d like to be young because there is a lot to do, but I am too old,” he said, before also commenting on the possibility for greatness in the wines from Armenia, where he is also working as a consultant.

When later asked if his own tastes in terms of wine style have changed over his long career spent consulting to wineries around the world, he shook his head.

“I don’t have my own taste, I try to do the wine where I am, and we cannot make very standard wine – even if I wanted to it is impossible… You have to be open minded in taste to do the wine where you are.”

He then added, “I read that Michel Rolland is doing everything the same way – that is stupid; sometimes I may like to, but it is impossible, because the taste is coming from the region where you are.”

Rolland, who heads up a team of seven winemakers who together consult to 240 wineries said that he is “still putting my nose in 75 wineries”.

Despite the advent of greater levels of technology in the vineyard and winery, Rolland said that his approach was still based on intuition.

Pointing at his nose, he said, “I just use this, and in wine, the personal feeling is the most important, whether it is the condition of the grapes in the vineyard or how the vinification is going in the winery; it is all feeling, and, because I am an old guy, I am still working a lot with the feeling.”

Rolland was in London on Tuesday this week with to celebrate 30 years of working with Alain Dominique Perrin at Château Lagrézette in Cahors.

Speaking to db about this part of southwest France, which is the native home of the Malbec grape, he said that over the past three decades Cahors had moved from being “in the Middle Ages” to a source of “beautiful wine”.

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