Benoit Prévot comes from a family of winegrowers and wine brokers going back three generations. He holds a diploma from the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology and his work experience began as a trainee at Château Le Bon Pasteur in 1989. Four years later, he became technical manager of Vignobles Rolland (Bon Pasteur, Fontenil, and La Grande Clotte). In 1999, Michel and Dany Rolland asked him to look after production of Yacochuya, the first great wine of Argentina and the first ever to obtain a score of 95/100 in Robert Parker’s “Wine Advocate”. Michel Rolland often repeats that Benoit Prévot was “the French eye watching over the making of an outstanding wine”. He formed the vineyard, equipped the cellar, and made the final blend for fourteen years. He and Michel Rolland have worked together closely for twenty-one years. Over this time, Benoit Prévot acquired a deep grounding in both viticulture and winemaking seeing as he was involved with every technical aspect of making wine at all the estates. Professional, devoted, and affable are the words Michel Rolland uses to describe him.
After Mr Pan acquired the properties belonging to Michel and Jean-Daniel Rolland in 2013, Benoit Prévot was appointed general manager. He is now in charge of financial, commercial, and technical management of the Château Le Bon Pasteur, as before, in conjunction with Michel Rolland. Monsieur Pan defined his mission as follows: “Make the best possible wine at Château Le Bon Pasteur”. This spirited forty-year-old was very motivated to accept the new challenge. He has never forgotten his emotional first contacts with wine, when his grandfather came home at night with samples. Benoit loved to smell the aromas emanating from the ebullioscope, to listen to his grandfather’s comments, and to see him blend wines in graduated test tubes. Wine always calls for an element of passion.
Michel Rolland was born on a modest estate, but decided early on that this would be his universe. He was instinctively drawn to oenology in the late 1960s: a discipline that had been raised to the status of a major science by Emile Peynaud. He met his future wife while at university. This was the beginning of an unprecedented winemaking partnership. What is Michel Rolland’s secret? It can be summarised by an all-consuming desire to succeed and an extraordinary intuition. “When I started out, in my minuscule oenological laboratory in Libourne, château owners brought me samples of their wines after the vintage for analysis. I could have gone on in this way for quite some time, but what really interested me was why one wine seemed really promising while another had nowhere near the same potential”.
That realisation was a turning point, and motivated Michel Rolland to reflect and closely observe what transforms a grape crop into a great vintage. “I soon noticed that all great wines had common characteristics: low yields of concentrated grapes and a growing season with a perfect balance between sunshine and rain conducive to good ripening “. His credo was defined. Instead of leaving everything to chance, he saw what could be done throughout the growing season to achieve perfectly ripe fruit. When asked how you can tell when this has been achieved, Michel Rolland laughs: “That’s the whole mystery. In fact, the only way to know is to bite into the grapes”.
Michel Rolland’s empirical method of making a difference before the grapes are picked began to find plenty of adepts. In the 1970s and 80s, Bordeaux was finding it difficult to recover from a major crisis. Michel Rolland continued his laboratory analyses and began offering advice to certain château owners who trusted him. This spurred him to seek other clients, speak with vineyard workers, survey vines, taste grapes, evaluate cellars, and ask in-depth questions about winemaking methods. His far-ranging experience enabled him to perfect techniques that lock in a wine’s intrinsic fruitiness and quality: green harvesting, leaf thinning, pinpointing ideal ripeness, saignée (bleeding juice from fermentation vats), extended maceration, increased fermentation temperature, and manual destemming. This was revolutionary at the time.
However, the results are there, and the wines that have taken advantage of his expertise are invariably improved. What are they like? Round, well-balanced, and immediately charming – epitomising Merlot’s joviality and sensuality – coupled with the austere and romantic side of Cabernet Sauvignon requiring years to shed its reserve and let its elegance shine. “Some of the most stupid and widespread comments I heard when I started out,” remarks Michel Rolland, “were from people going into rapture over a Bordeaux wine as follows: ‘What a wine! It will be outstanding in two years’, with this variation: ‘What a wine! We should have drunk it two years ago…’. I have always wanted wine to be good, whenever I choose to open it, and not to have to wait for it, or regret that I didn’t open it sooner… Regret and speculation are just an admission of helplessness”. That is how Michel Rolland’s consulting business stared out. It took off tremendously and became well and truly international thanks to Robert Parker’s influence on American wine lovers. Michel Rolland was soon asked to come to the US to advise the prestigious firm of Robert Mondavi in California. In Argentina, people call him El Guru and the government is grateful to him for having transformed the reputation of a drink fit for gauchos into that of a full-bodied, powerful wine that can vie with European counterparts. Today, Michel Rolland is the world’s most famous consulting oenologist, and the one receiving the most media attention. He has introduced his major innovations in Spain, Italy Portugal, Morocco, Chile, India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Bulgaria, Greece, Canada, Hungary, Croatia, Israel, Armenia, Turkey, Switzerland, and China.
This adventure is comparable to no other, and is inseparable from a place: Château Le Bon Pasteur.
Consisting of about ten people, our team is helping to bring this wine into a new era: an era of exception. A loyal team, some have been with the château for more than 20 years, works alongside with Michel Rolland and Benoit Prévot questing for perfection.