Michel Rolland has dropped some 20 consultancies – among them Chateau Kirwan – because of pressure of work.
The celebrated Pomerol-based consultant is contracted to over 100 properties in 12 countries from India to Bulgaria via Italy, Australia and Argentina. He consults for some of the most famous names in the wine world: the Antinoris, Chateau Pape Clement, Angelus and many more.
Now he is divesting himself of around 20 Bordeaux clients, including Chateaux Kirwan, Citran, Malescot, Camensac, Branaire in Poujeaux, Fieuzal and others.
‘The work is very tiring and Michel is 60 this year,’ Rolland’s wife and business partner Dany told decanter.com. ‘He has decided to leave these properties because he thinks the wine is going well and they can work without him.’
Both Rollands strongly denied reports in La Revue du Vin de France and on decanter.com that Kirwan’s owners were in any way behind the decision to part company.
‘It is Michel that has pulled out of Kirwan, not the other way round,’ Dany said. She added the decisions were very difficult as many of her husband’s consultancies were on an informal basis with friends. ‘Some are saying it is impossible he should leave, and asking him to at least take part in the blending.’
Nathalie Schÿler, general manager of Kirwan confirmed Rolland had left and that 2005 would be his last vintage. Winemaking would continue under his protégé Athanase Fakorellis, who ‘follows the same winemaking philosophy’.
She also said that any suggestion that consultant Stephane Derenoncourt would be taking over from Rolland at the third-growth Margaux chateau was entirely false. La Revue du Vin de France was ‘misleading’ in mentioning Derenoncourt’s name in association with Kirwan, she said.
Rolland’s leaving Kirwan is the subject of intense interest, not least because in 2004, in the polemic film Mondovino, veteran critic Michael Broadbent criticised the wine for tasting more like a Merlot-dominated Pomerol than a Margaux under Rolland’s stewardship.
Schÿler said that she had no criticism of Rolland’s style, and that he is ‘a great friend who has taught us much in winemaking’, but she hinted that his departure would be an opportunity to bring the wine back to a style that was more recognisably Margaux.
‘We feel that we have a great Margaux terroir and that the wine needs to be identified as a high quality Margaux.’
She added, ‘It was cause and effect. It was a set of circumstances that put us into the situation.’
Written by Adam Lechmere, and Panos Kakaviatos