Politics exist everywhere.
There are school ground politics, workplace politics and even sexual politics... it seems as though we human beings just can't get enough of confusing and clouding our lives. Wine should be exempt, right?
Perhaps should be free, but unfortunately it is not. Yes, even the world of wine there are politics aplenty, but that hasn't seemed to slow down the owner and visionary behind Chateau Rollan de By in Medoc, Bordeaux (http://www.rollandeby.com/ ).
The Chateau was taken over by Jean Guyon in 1989 with only 2 hectares. Since then, Jean has developed a cracker-jack team and ruthlessly pursued finesse in the vineyard, cellar and bottle. All of this whilst dealing with years of evolution (or de-evolution depending on one's point-of-view) of the Cru Bourgeois system.
Many websites and papers have dealt with the issue in far greater detail and depth then I care to repeat, so let me be brief: today if a winery in Bordeaux would like to be classified as Cru Bourgeois they must submit their wine to a blind tasting panel for judgement. Should the wine present itself with the appropriate level of quality, and the winery itself meets certain criteria, then the winery can label that vintage only as Cru Bourgeois... no longer reserving that title for the vineyard itself as is the case with the classified growths of Bordeaux.
It sounds like a simple, reasonable and eminently logical system. And it is! The trouble for winemakers (and wine-drinkers) is that it took Bordeaux a grand total of 78 years to develop this system and there were more then a few hiccups along the way. I'm not going to point fingers or name names, but there were legislators who made decisions whilst pocketing funds as the owners or part-owners of vineyards as well.
So here we all are, 20-something odd years after Jean took the reins at Rollan de By and it has swelled from 2 acres to a whopping total of 85 hectares under production at his 5 wineries. But size isn't everything... errr.... anyways, all any enthusiastic oenophile has to do is investigate the Grand Jury Europeen (follow this for a sample of their work http://www.paolomonti.it/pdf/gjeautriche0606.pdf ) to see that Rollan de By is scoring high! How high you might ask? In the 2010 Wine Spectator it was listed as one of the top 100 wines alongside and higher then many wines costing double or triple the price.
As always, in the glass my friends;
vinification: stainless steel, temperature controlled
maturation: new and used French oak
awards: also awarded gold at the Concours General Agricole de Paris 2010
- visual: fully intense/deep garnet core with no obvious bricking, no sediment
- nose: moderate+ intense and developing bouquet of red berries such as raspberry, strawberry, ripe blueberries, rich dark floral notes, warm earthy undertone, background light graphite, menthol/eucalyptus qualities
- palate: dry, moderate+ raspberry acids, moderate+ smooth/chewy tannin, moderate body, moderate+ abv (13%), moderate+ to fully intense and developing flavors that mimick well the nose; good emphasis from the Cabernet Sauvignon with a deliberate structure and overall impressive presence. Excellent balance and long length
- conclusion: still a babe, this wine will develop for years... enjoy 2015-2020+
- FOOD PAIRINGS: I am a simple man, and have simple tastes; a wine likes this calls out for me to invite over a great friend and smoke a couple of brilliant cigars on the front stoop. If I really felt the need for food with this? Try a T-bone steak! A masculine wine this is (though still elegant like me) so enjoy it with some beef on the bone... richer flavors that way, trust me. Keep it simple.
So whilst the weather in Medoc in 2008 wasn't exactly perfect (chaotic would be the word some would use), a sage colleague of mine told me recently: "Anyone can make great wine in a great year. Great winemakers always make good wine. Always"
Jean Guyon, his superbly credentialed consultant Alain Reynaud and the entire team at Rollan de By should be patting themselves on the backs... 2008 was a great year for them and that says it all.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.
CINCIN~!!! SLAINTE~!!! CHEERS~!!!