Eight years after the documentary "Mondovino" unleashed a vitriolic attack on Michel Rolland, the world-famous wine consultant has volleyed back.
In a book entitled “Le gourou du vin" (the wine guru), Rolland traces his life from growing up as the son of a grape-grower in Libourne to his career as a flying winemaker.
He also lashes out at the Bordeaux wine industry, telling AFP, “I’m saying something no one has ever said before, which is [that] there are a lot of hypocrites in Bordeaux."
Two of the book's five chapters are devoted to individuals: the first is American wine critic Robert Parker, whom he greatly admires; the second is the American director of "Mondovino," Jonathan Nossiter, whom he accuses of being part of the “anti-globalization” movement and a “Jansenist” (a follower, that is, of the 17th-century Christian doctrine which was big on original sin and the innate depravity of humanity).
Nossiter's 2004 documentary was a searing criticism of the globalization and homogenization of wine production. Rolland was portrayed as self-important, pretentious and difficult to work with, doling out orders to clients around the world.
The film director's “message was wrong,” writes Rolland in “Le gourou du vin," claiming that the film brimmed with “resentment” and “belligerent cynicism.”
Rolland's clients see him differently. A Bordeaux château owner who works with the winemaker told AFP that “the image of Rolland with a driver and a cigar is not him."
Another wine producer added, “He is actually a farmer and he has true talent. It is not true that he makes all wines the same; he makes wines that his clients ask him to make.”
Rolland told AFP: “I have nothing against [Nossiter] personally, but he will never work in the wine world again . . . He misrepresented the truth and that is what I want to explain in the book.”
But eight years after the release of "Mondovino", Rolland has discovered that the film might have done him some favors. Smiling, he claims it has actually generated sympathy for him.
The 63-year-old, who is based in Pomerol, acts as an advisor for some 250 wine estates around the world.
"Le gourou du vin" ($26) is published by Glenat.
*In May, the full ten-hour version of the "Mondovino" documentary, which was released as a two-and-a-half hour film in 2004, will be shown at London's Real Wine Fair.
-AFP with Wine-Searcher staff