Michel Rolland is the world’s most revered “Flying Winemaker.” While we’ve tasted for hours with Rolland in his offices in Bordeaux, we have never attended blending sessions with him. Friends who have contend that Michel’s capacity for evaluating Bordeaux varieties is unparalleled. Working with the likes of Harlan Estate, Bond, Bryant Family, Staglin, and Dalla Valle in Napa Valley, Rolland is like “Houdini in the tasting room,” capable of evaluating 60 or 70 different lots at a time, selecting small pieces of each in assembling the perfect whole.
But if you ask anyone who knows Michel Rolland which estate is closest to his heart, the answer is easy. In 1920, Rolland’s grandfather acquired a small 14-acre property just behind Château Gazin, in the northeast quadrant of precious Pomerol. The soils were light, a fine mix of sand and gravel. In 1978, Michel and his brother Jean-Daniel took control of the cellar and the family vineyards. It wouldn’t be long before Robert Parker came calling.
Michel is famous for waiting out harvests, pushing sugars to the maximum. Since 2008, each block of Le Bon Pasteur is entirely barrel-fermented, treated to a long, cool vinification in new French cooperage. In both Wine Spectator’s and Robert Parker’s highest-rated Bordeaux vintage in history, Rolland’s winegrowing protocol paid enormous dividends, as he crafted the most exquisite Pomerol ever to come off this tiny Right Bank estate.
The 2010 Château Le Bon Pasteur is opaque purple in color. Gorgeous nose of black raspberry, mulberry, chocolate, and sweet spice. Rich and powerfully built on the attack, with great density. Silken in texture, filled with a flamboyant mix of blackberry, red raspberry, graphite, and tobacco. The structure here is superb, sneaky tannins lurking beneath a luscious black-fruit cloak, arguing cogently for what Robert Parker suggests will be another 20 years of life.
95 points from Robert Parker, Jr. Elsewhere $130. $85 today on WineAccess for 180 perfectly cellared bottles. Shipping included on 3.
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