Jeannie Cho Lee MW Interviews Michel Rolland

25 June 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

Chinese buyers snapping up more and more Bordeaux properties has become one of the current popular talks of the wine industry. That is why when it was reported that Michel Rolland sold one of the major Bordeaux Chateaux to a Chinese businessman, he arrested quite a lot of attention.


The influential winemaker and consultant has contributed to the success of over 100 vineyards on five continents, influencing wine style all over the world. He is currently the consultant for COFCO, guidng three wineries in China. Jeannie found a chance to catch up with him at the Vinexpo in Bordeaux.



JCL = Jeannie Cho Lee      MR = Michel Rolland


JCL: How long have you been consulting for COFCO now?

MR: My first vintage is 2010 and it has been a great experience. We have three places: Chateau Junding, Chateau Sungod, and [Chateau Huaxia] with three different soils. Climate is almost the same – climate is difficult in China. You know, there aren’t always good oenologists but there’s always good grapes. So we try to produce the best grapes as possible and on our way making a bit of wine every year.


JCL: Do you see any potential in the Western part of China?

MR: Not yet. I’ve never been there. Certainly it will be another step in the collaboration but we’re not doing anything at the moment. We begin with places around Beijing.


JCL: Now that your property is sold over to a Chinese business man, do you think that offers some opportunities for your other wines and gives you better distribution in the market?

MR: The man who bought Chateau Le Bon Pasteur is very powerful. I think he really wants to increase the volume of properties he has in Bordeaux so certainly we’ll see him buying different properties, but I don’t think it really helps me with the distribution in China. I’m happy to work in China, but I have exclusivity with COFCO because I don’t want to spend too much time there. Suddenly China is growing so fast and too many people were asking me to be their consultant, so I prefer to have exclusivity and to work well like I do with COFCO. So we’ll see!


JCL: Bordeaux 2012 has been quite challenging to sell, what’s your view on the market?

MR: I think it’s always the same. We were expecting a difficult primeur campaign. For me it’s not directly related to the wines because the wines are tasting very well – much better than when we tasted them in March, so I’m very confident about the wine. They are delicious and delicate wines. When I taste 2012 now, it reminds me of 2001. Nobody was asking about that vintage because it was right after 2000. Apparently it wasn’t good, but in fact 2001 was a fantastic vintage. 2012 is certainly much better than what we read from the publications in April or May.


JCL: Do you prefer the 2012 vintage over the 2011 vintage?

MR: I think so. 2011 is a little bit square; strong wines and sometimes a bit drastic. 2012 has much more finesse and is much more elegant. The wines are growing, and getting better and better.