In the world of wine, there has been a string of legendary consultants who could fix anything from acid to yeast. First, there was the oenologists' oenologist, Russian-émigré André Tchelist-cheff, who could tell Cabernet from Zinfandel at a hundred paces. Then there was Professor Émile Peynaud of the University of Bordeaux, a brilliant winemaker who had input at many Bordeaux estates.
These days, the reigning wine consultant is Michel Rolland, a former pupil of Dr. Peynaud. Not just a brilliant oenologist, Rolland is also a charming and witty guy. As consultant for more than a hundred wineries around the globe, Rolland has become a major influence on world wine, bringing an "international" style to all the wines he works with.
Rolland spends a significant portion of his time in the air, jetting between vineyards on four continents. In France, he consults for many top Bordeaux properties and also owns Château Le Bon Pasteur and Château Fontenil. He also advises on the excellent Languedoc-Roussillon wines of Fortant de France. Then on to Italy, to California, to South Africa, to Chile, and even to India to help with the fledgling wine industry there. (Remind me to tell Michel about the AAdvantage Card.) Here are three bottles that carry the Rolland stamp.
CASA LAPOSTOLLE CUVÉE ALEXANDRE 1998 MERLOT ($25)
Casa Lapostolle is the Chilean outpost of the Marnier Lapostolle family, the French makers of the famous Grand Marnier liqueur. Michel Rolland has been the consulting winemaker since the first vintage here in 1994. The family has made a commitment to Chilean wine, with a state-of-the-art facility about 100 miles south of Santiago. Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle's list of cellar equipment would have made even the most pampered winemaker envious. Rolland puts it to good use.