Michel Rolland has become one of the world’s best-known and widely travelled wine consultants since setting up a winemaking laboratory with his wife, Dany, in St-Emilion in 1973.
At 72 years old, however, Rolland has given a glimpse of how the future business will look.
‘My assistants became my partners,’ he told Decanter.com today (5 May). ‘We [created] a new company called Michel Rolland et Associés,’ he said.
The team has been working on the plan for a year, although it has been in Rolland’s mind for longer. ‘I decided a long time ago to do it, when I turned 70. I am a little bit late.’
The new partners were offered shares in the business and will take over operations ‘little by little’, Rolland had earlier told French publication Vitisphere. It named the new partners as Jean-Philippe Fort, Julien Viaud, and Mikael Laizet.
However, it appeared that retirement was not on Rolland’s immediate agenda.
‘We have altogether around 230 clients. We have a lot to do,’ Rolland told Decanter.com via email.
But, he said that he looked forward to doing more tasting in future, and will do it for as long as he is still able.
‘It’s not so easy to be a good taster,’ he said. ‘It is like tennis or golf, a lot of work, and there are so many bad tasters.’
Michel Rolland’s career has spanned a similar era as recently-retired Robert Parker Jr, and the US critic was prominent among the fans of Rolland’s skills.
However, Rolland’s work has taken him from prestigious châteaux on Bordeaux’s Right Bank to emerging vineyard regions all over the world.
Extra reporting by Georgina Hindle.
Coming soon: Look out for an in-depth article on how top wine consultants are working with wineries during the coronavirus lockdown.