“Perhaps we do have one minor flaw in Bordeaux – arrogance”

Wednesday September 27 2017 by Vitisphere

- Photo credit : Alexandre Abellan

As he prepared for his 45th winemaking season, celebrated consultant winemaker Michel Rolland   portrayed a Bordeaux wine industry still reeling slightly but not knocked out. He inevitably talked about Bordeaux bashing: “I saw it, I experienced it. It is less obvious but it is understandable. Bordeaux had a preponderant influence in the 1990s. Its wines had an extraordinary position worldwide. When you are in the limelight everywhere you go, you come under fire”, explained Rolland on September 19 during a mammoth talk at the Cité du Vin. “Perhaps we do have one minor in flaw in Bordeaux – we are perhaps a little arrogant. So we were attacked for our arrogance and for the quality of our wines”, he admitted with the same predatory smile that allows him to recall an anecdote, and settle some scores.

For the original flying winemaker, the era of Bordeaux bashing is, at least temporarily, over, due to current popularity in one export market: “China, which knows Bordeaux, hence Bordeaux is still its favourite name. Bordeaux is making a come-back in the United States and even in Paris where the sommeliers were the world champion Bordeaux bashers. Things are starting to become interesting again”, quipped the winemaker and friend of American critic Robert Parker.

No more bad vintages

Michel Rolland, who hates fatalism, is an optimist for whom the return to favour of Bordeaux wines is set to last. Stressing the standard of Gironde wines, he confessed that he had made “more good vintages over the past fifteen years than over the previous thirty”. He believes that bad vintages are a dying breed in Bordeaux: “Nowadays, we know how to achieve balance even with fruit that is not prime quality”. 

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