By Robert Parker
Michel Rolland is one of the world's finest oenologists, and he's on a crusade. As owner of Bon Pasteur in Bordeaux's Pomerol appellation and consultant to many of the world's leading wineries, he's determined to bypass Bordeaux's more than century-old distribution system that depends on wine brokers. Instead, he's selling many of his own wines directly to distributors abroad, cutting out the middleman costs that jack up prices to consumers. Many négociants are rooting for his failure, but I hope he succeeds because it will boost competition and perhaps lead others to follow suit. Here are some of his wines that will be sold directly to U.S. distributors. (By the way, one of the wineries he works with is California's famed Harlan Estate. I'll have more to say about Harlan next week.)
91 points. Rolland's flexibility with different grapes and wine styles is evident with this dry, crisp, yet full-flavored white made primarily from sauvignon blanc with a touch of semillon and muscadelle. Tropical fruit notes gush from the bouquet, and the wine is rich, dry, and impressively long. Enjoy it now, because it is made to be drunk in two to three years following the vintage. $20
90 points. The authoritative, dark ruby/purple-tinged offering from the Fronsac appellation has hints of plums, blackberries, blueberries, charcoal, and smoke in its ripe, dense, moderately tannic personality. Give it a year or two in the cellar, and drink it over the subsequent 12 to 14 years. $21-$32
Bonne Nouvelle 2004
90 points.This impressive South African offering is a blend of 58% merlot, 25% pinotage, and 17% cabernet sauvignon. It exhibits a Bordeaux-like personality with notes of dried herbs, loamy soil, black cherries, and tobacco. There are 1,500 cases of this medium-bodied proprietary red. Drink it over the next five to six years. $39
90 points. Bon Pasteur is Rolland's flagship estate. It reveals a deep ruby/purple color, aromas of mocha, white chocolate, black cherries, and berries, medium to full body, soft but noticeable tannin, decent acidity and freshness, and equilibrium. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2020. $45-$54
91 points. This elegant, dark ruby/purple-tinged Argentine malbec offers sweet mulberry, cherry, and violet aromas. It has sweet tannins, a touch of wood, and a fruity finish. Drink it in two to three years. $55
90 points. This medium-bodied wine from Spain's Toro region has a ruby/purple color, with aromas of kirsch, black fruits, licorice, pepper, and spice. The wood, acidity, alcohol, and tannins are nicely integrated, for a long finish. It should drink well for five or six years. $62
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.