"Vinexpo has been galeotto three times between me and Italy. The third extraordinary meeting took place in Bordeaux in 2015, thanks to Charlie Artourola: it was he who called me and told me that Marco Caprai wanted to meet me. His Sagrantino di Montefalco was already famous all over the world, but he wanted to go further and inscribe this vine among the greats of oenology. The challenge tasted - and still does - of complexity, which is why I accepted immediately, and then 2015 was a great year and certainly not to be wasted. This is how Michel Rolland recounts the meeting that led to the collaboration, five years ago, with Azienda agricola Arnaldo Caprai in Montefalco. This is one of the many anecdotes recounted in the book The wine gurupublished in Italy by Ampelos Editions (pp. 190, format 15×21 softcover; publication date June 2020; cover price € 19.00).
The book will be presented by Michel Rolland in person to the press on 21 July at the winery in Montefalco, but has been on sale in bookshops and also in e-book version for a few days.
The son of winegrowers, Rolland was destined to take over the family estate, but he wanted more: how did this Libournais boy become the most sought-after and media-savvy winemaker on the planet? How does he manage to produce wines that are always 'on the mark' and that are sure to appeal to millions of wine lovers around the world? Leafing through the pages of the book, you will not only follow the life of the 'king of the assemblage', but also the history of French and international viticulture, in a delightful tale alternating between anecdotes and re-established truths, encounters with great personalities and important friendships (such as the one with Robert Parker), which will surprise you by also dispelling some myths.
"The Italian title 'The Wine Guru',' Rolland writes in the introduction to the Italian edition of the book written in collaboration with journalist and writer Isabelle Bunisset, 'is of course ironic, given that during my career I have been called many different things: the Napoleon of blends, Maradona, Mephistopheles and so on and so forth... it seems clear to me that these are just banal nicknames. In real life, none of this has anything to do with it. In this book, I wanted to tell the story of how the son of a winegrower in the Bordeaux region, from a modest family, reached the prestigious position of one of the most famous consultants on the wine planet. This journey amused me a lot: going to so many different countries first of all satisfied my curiosity but also ended up generating a certain megalomania. This is how you get to produce wine in twenty-one countries, to have a hundred companies that follow or have followed the advice of the 'guru'. But above all, it has been an incredible human adventure, made up of pleasant or unpleasant, but always rewarding, encounters and discoveries.
I started with oenology when everything had yet to be invented and tested. I initiated, as well as accompanied, the greatest changes in viticulture and winemaking. I have travelled to the ends of the earth, to all latitudes, to undermine the beliefs of the doubters. I have assembled different grape varieties that were thought to be irreconcilable. I have discovered lands that were thought to be ungrateful and on which proud vine stocks now sprout. I have met singular men who had at heart the idea of producing unique wines, with great character, in countries with an unlikely viticultural destiny. Enthusiasm is what gives light to life. I often say it: nothing can be undertaken if one does not have a strong desire and if one does not look beyond the present time'.
Michel Rolland is a consultant for over a hundred wineries around the world, including, as mentioned, the Arnaldo Caprai winery. 'Sagrantino,' Rolland emphasises, 'is a vine that has a marked personality, but it is possible to educate and direct it. In the world of wine, one is successful when one is able to propose something original and Sagrantino has the capacity to be unique".
The oenologist's goal with the Caprai winery is to make this wine seductive, smoothing out its peculiar roughness but preserving its character: a Pygmalion, able to mould and improve the personality of the Sagrantino pupil, while favouring its natural inclinations. On tasting, all this is evident, surprising and fascinating at the same time. "The aim is to broaden the ranks of regular consumers. A quantum leap that can also bring 'important numbers' for tourism,' says Caprai proudly. 'Rolland is the man who knows, better than anyone, the tastes in the field of oenology. With him we can really aim to make Sagrantino di Montefalco one of the best wines in the world". But that's not all, because with Rolland some new Caprai labels were also born, above all Berlcompare and Malcompare. Belcompare is a 100% Merlot that is elevated 2 years in barrique and refined 8 months in bottle, with intense notes of blackcurrant, graphite and some touches of geranium. The palate is taut, fresh, with salty and citrusy tannins. A wine compressed and elegant, unforgettable, aspiring to position itself in the empyrean of great Merlots national and international. MalcompareInstead, it is a 100% Pinot Noir, round and fresh, with hints of violet and raspberry, which on the palate offers sweet notes of wood and spices (due to the 2 years of maturation in barrique, followed by 8 months in the bottle) and a soft, silky finish where the right acidity is not lacking either. È an expression of the continuous drive for experimentation and innovation of the Arnaldo Caprai winery, which bases its foundations on a profound and tireless work of research and development of the terroir.
ARNALDO CAPRAI FARM AT A GLANCE
Few other wineries in Italy and around the world are immediately identified just by mentioning the name of the denomination to which they belong, like Arnaldo Caprai, itself a symbol of Sagrantino di Montefalco. A unique reality, synonymous with Italian excellence, capable of creating wines that are out of the ordinary in terms of depth, elegance and longevity: not only reds, but also whites. The credit for this adventure that began in the late 1970s goes to Marco Caprai, Arnaldo's son. It was he, in fact, more than anyone else who believed in the richness of Sagrantino, reinterpreting it in a modern key, through the most innovative production and business management methods, which have enabled him to win the favour of the public and critics all over the world. Not to be outdone by the whites: Arnaldo Caprai's Grecante, 100% Grechetto, managed to conquer Wine Spectator's Top100.
A great company, Arnaldo Caprai, that guards a green soul, considering issues concerning sustainability, protection and safeguarding the environment as fundamental. The point of observation always remains the same: trying to behave in harmony with natural evolution cycles, preserving and enhancing the territory in which it operates. This is why the company decided to create an Environmental Management System that complies with international regulations, developing a voluntary territorial protocol of environmental, economic and social sustainability of the production process.
It is in this unparalleled context that wines of unforgettable substance are born, complex and elegant, capable of narrating the best of an entire region, Umbria.