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Mdoc chteaux part company with Rolland

Published:  23 July, 2008

Michel Rolland is giving up his consulting work on 15 Mdoc and Graves properties as the left bank pushes for a more recognisable, Cabernet-focused style. Chteaux Kirwan in Margaux and de Fieuzal in Graves are among those that Rolland is leaving, but he will remain at Malescot, despite reports to the contrary. Rolland also wished to make it clear that he has never been associated with Chteau Branaire.

Michel is the Merlot man,' said Anabelle Cruse Bardinet, winemaker at Chteau Corbin, in Saint-Emilion. He belongs on the right bank.'

Rolland still has 65 chteaux in the Bordeaux region under his advisory wing, which is enough for me now', he said. I am not a young man. I'm nearly 60. I don't have to make my reputation any more.'

Rolland may be playing on his age, but he employs five oenologists. However, a number of properties, including Chteau Citran, have turned down the chance to work with these assistants, preferring a visit from Rolland or nothing at all.

Rolland is also giving up his work in India, and will visit Grover Vineyard just once a year, because of concern over the country's ability to make top-level wine. The travel isn't an issue for me,' he said.

After Bordeaux, his main focus will be Argentina and the US, with some work with Rupert & Rothschild in South Africa.

His approach to micro-oxygenation has changed, he said, to the extent that he doesn't recommend it in most of his consultancies across the world: I'm not a great fan of micro-oxygenation. It works in Bordeaux, but if you use it in Argentina, Chile or South Africa, there's too fast an evolution of colour. However, if you watched a stupid, two-hour film [Mondovino], you'd think that all I did was micro-oxygenate.'

Mondovino worried him initially, admitted Rolland, but I had many calls after the film from winemakers who wanted me to work with them. You need a 50-hour film to convey all the complexities of wine, not a little one like that. The standard of wine has gone up so much everywhere. Now I work on small details to make a difference.'

Rolland denied that he was playing a part in the standardisation of wine style across the world. Even if I wanted to make wines the same, I could not. If you put three of my wines side by side and tell me that they're the same flavour, then I feel sorry for you, because you're obviously not a good taster.'