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From the increase in the alcohol content of wines, considered a false problem “that interests journalists and not consumers”, to the ecological transition of wine towards sustainability and bio, a fundamental and irreversible process, which however requires time and study, because quality wine remains an essential theme; from the value of the company brand, which has proved even more decisive in these difficult months of pandemic, to the bright future of wine and viticulture, thanks to a generation of young oenologists and winemakers with great international experience: there are many reflections, collected by WineNews, in the interview with Michel Rolland (tomorrow, the video), the most influential oenologist of our time, today the signature and consultant of wines and mythical cellars of Tuscany, such as Masseto, Ornellaia and Tenuta di Biserno, and, for some year, also Caprai in Umbria, for Sagrantino and beyond. Master of the Bordeaux blend, Michel Rolland, with his modern idea of ​​winemaking, helped bring Bordeaux wines to the world limelight, and from France, with the same success, he then influenced the way of making wine everywhere, from California to Argentina, to Chile, and without forgetting Italy. Today, after 40 years of career at the highest levels, he analyzes trends and visions of the future, without mincing words.
Starting with the topic of alcoholic strength,
“Which is increasing in all the vineyards of the world: I say no to low gradations, and I say no for a very simple reason, because once the gradation was not shown on the label, so nobody knew the gradation of the wine, and nobody guessed it , and all good wines, great wines, had a high alcohol content, there were no great wines with little alcohol. Do consumers ask for wines with a low alcohol content? I say that this is not the case – explains Rolland – it is journalists who ask for low-alcohol wines, not consumers, because consumers do not look at the alcohol content on the label, it is the journalists who look at it. As for global warming, we live in a period in which we have got into the habit of harvesting very ripe grapes, and this gives us the opportunity to drink good wines in Italy, France and everywhere in the world, unlike what happened 30 or 40 years ago, when there were frankly bad wines, in particular in Italy, but also in France, Spain and other large producing countries “, Rolland continues.
The focus, therefore, shifts to the viticulture of the future, which must be sustainable, from an environmental but also an economic and social point of view:
“The cultural change, both in the management of the vineyard and in the mentality of the people, is fundamental. I believe it is important for everyone to move towards organic, towards crops that respect the environment, crops that, more simply, respect life, and on this level we must change to move forward. What I find a bit ridiculous is wanting to make these changes in a very short period of time, it is not possible to do it from one year to the next “, notes Michel Rolland. “We study, we prepare, we need different behaviors, of time. All over the world there is talk of organic farming, of respect for the environment, this is the direction that has been taken, but we must give time to change. There may be other solutions, besides organic and biodynamic, which in any case have given excellent results where the climate is favorable “.
The risk is that organic and biodynamic are reduced to marketing phenomena, rather than to good practices, because, continues Rolland, “If we take into consideration the state of the art of organic and biodynamic culture, we note that it has a disproportionate effect on marketing compared to the actual results, because organic represents a small percentage of wine. It is like when we deal with the disabled or the blind: it is important that we talk about them, but there are not only disabled people in the world, and then we must also talk about others. I have a property in Argentina, where I make organic, but I don’t put it on the label because I don’t want to take advantage of it in terms of marketing, I find that there is an abuse of this situation. There are many lies behind all of this – Rolland says again – but I am convinced of the fact that in the future another type of culture will prevail, and I repeat my usual answer: you have to take time for this transition, and you have to do it well. Wine doesn’t have to suffer, for me drinking bad organic doesn’t make sense, it’s a stupid thing that we have to stop. In any case, the first thing to do in order to face the market is to produce a good, very good wine. Also because marketing and commercialization are aspects that many cannot manage well, it is complicated and the competition is strong, and as in all forms of competition, whoever runs faster comes first, so you need to run faster, have ideas, move. The product is indeed important, but the environment in which one moves is equally important “.
A top role, in this context, is played by the “strong brands”, especially in the affirmation in the world of a Denomination and a territory.
“The brand is very important in the world of wine, we have seen it in the last year, all the brands that have established themselves are brands that have a reputation, an international name. For an established brand it is easier, because it has greater visibility on the market, and consumers who travel, accustomed to buying wine, find their brand in every country. This applies to companies that have large volumes – explains the winemaker – while for those with small volumes it is more complicated, because their visibility on the market is reduced, and it is therefore necessary to focus on high-end consumers, who appreciate quality: quality wines are needed for quality consumers, but it will still be difficult have global visibility on the market “.
Another novelty that appears on the market, precisely in Rolland’s Bordeaux, is that which concerns resistant varieties, in the process of experimentation, but which could replace the traditional grape varieties of today’s wine, a hypothesis on which the winemaker is rather skeptical. .
“In Bordeaux there is a saying about wine production: making wine is easy, the difficult thing is the first 5 years. So I think the same thing applies to these new varieties, the first 5 years will be difficult, but in any case I really want to see traditional vines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc replaced with something else “.
Looking to the future, and to the possibilities that the world of wine offers also in terms of employment and economic recovery, Rolland underlines how
“If today I work in every corner of the world, 40 years ago, when I started my business, it wasn’t like that, I worked exclusively in Bordeaux, just as the Italians worked in Italy and the Spaniards in Spain. Today there is a generation of young winemakers, very motivated, very gifted, with a great wealth of knowledge. Many things have been discovered in recent years, and it is no coincidence – says Michel Rolland – that wine has never been so good, because teams of highly skilled people work there. I am very calm about the quality of the wine, which young winemakers will be able to make to measure, on demand, with more acidity, with less color, or less alcohol. You can make quality wines, so the future of wine is assured: let’s leave room for young people, let them do it, because, worldwide, from California to South America, passing through Europe, there is a generation of winemakers in launching ramp “.
Finally, a consideration, on the importance of being a number 1 and on the awareness of not being “the” number 1, because in the world of wine there are many oenologists capable of making spectacular wines.
“Do you know what the problem with numbers 1 is? That I can’t be the only one. I should have killed so many other people who made good wines. There are many winemakers who have made excellent wines, which I would have liked to have made myself. I say this openly when I taste them, I say that it is a good wine and that I wish I had made it myself. And this is fortunate for consumers, because what I produce represents a very small part of the wine production, it would not be enough for everyone, it is normal that there are other people who know how to make great wines “, concludes Michel Rolland.


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Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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