Bordeaux wine consultant reaps Argentine harvest

Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:14am EDT
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By Michel Rose

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Bordeaux wine consultant Michel Rolland made a personal bet that he could make quality wines in an area that was mainly known for volume wines and then started a vineyard in Argentina with the help of friends.

He may have upset some of his clients, among the top houses in the Bordeaux, and certainly those Bordeaux winemakers that compete with the New World wines from Argentina and elsewhere.

But that did not deter him and he obtained financial support from some wealthy French families, including Bordeaux wine dynasties such as Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and the Cuvelier family of Chateau Leoville-Poyferre.

"I had the first idea in my head some 15 years ago but I was told I had to be careful with Argentineans. But after I went there several times I decided to go ahead nevertheless," he said at a presentation in Paris

Rolland set out to turn around modern image of the French winemakers battling an inevitable decline against new rivals.

Incapable of adapting to the production and selling techniques of the New World, French vintners are often seen as a conservative force clinging to their pretty chateaux in Bordeaux, in the fast-changing and innovative world of wine.

But the story of Michel Rolland and his Clos de los Siete - or "Vineyard of the Seven" - defies these stereotypes.

First, it doesn't take place in the well-kept and unsurprising world of his native Bordeaux, but in the wild valleys of the Argentinean Andes.   Continued...

<p>Foremost Bordeaux-based oenologist and wine consultant Michel Rolland talks during a wine tasting session at Vinexpo 2006 in Hong Kong in this file photo from May 25, 2006. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>