Celebrated flying winemaker Michel Rolland has left Chateau Kirwan, with the estate owners saying they are looking for higher quality.

Nathalie Schÿler, general manager of the third-growth Margaux château confirmed the much-lauded winemaker had left but that the idea was not to ‘get rid’ of Rolland.

‘We consider Michel Rolland a great friend, who has taught us much in winemaking, but we feel we can go higher in quality,’ Schÿler told decanter.com.

Criticism in the controversial wine documentary Mondovino also influenced the decision to part ways. The film featured UK wine guru Michael Broadbent saying Kirwan tasted more like a Merlot-dominated Pomerol under Rolland’s stewardship.

‘We certainly want to be identified as a high-level Margaux,’ Schÿler said, ‘and part of our decision was, yes, a small reaction to that movie.’

Schÿler, however, pointed out that winemaking was currently still continuing under Rolland protégé Athanase Fakorellis, who ‘follows the same winemaking philosophy’.

A report in a recent issue of La Revue de Vin de France, which alluded to winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt replacing Rolland, was refuted by the Kirwan boss.

‘That was a misleading article, we are not going to work with Mr Derenoncourt,’ she said.

The château will announce the identity of its new general winemaking director ‘in a few months.’ It is not clear if Fakorellis will stay with the château.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos