Michel Rolland’s New Spanish Wines

Don Winkler, Javier Galaretta, Michel Rolland & Mike Potashnik

Don Winkler, Javier Galaretta, Michel Rolland & Mike Potashnik

Michel Rolland has made wine all over the world, and we’ve tasted his wines in many of the places where we’ve traveled—Argentina, South Africa, and, of course, France.  Now, he extends his global reach to a neighboring country, Spain, where he has produced three classic Spanish wines in collaboration with local wineries and with Javier Ruiz de Galarreta, the founder and CEO of Araex, a wine marketing firm that started in Rioja Alavesa but today works with wines from throughout Spain.

We were recently invited to join Michel and Javier with other members of the trade for a tasting and lunch at the Tribeca Grill in Manhattan.  The wines for the event consisted of two vintages of the following—a 100% Verdejo from Rueda, a 100% Tempranillo from Rioja, and an 85% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot from Ribera del Duero.   All three wines are fruit forward, supple and easy drinking with ripe flavors, moderate acidity and good overall balance.  They are all good food wines, drinkable now but likely to improve with age, although none is made for really long term cellaring.  The R&G wines are imported by Fran Kysela of Winchester, VA.    Our reviews of these wines follow.


The Rueda is made at the Val de Vid winery where Silvia Garcia is the winemaker.   It’s aged in 5% new oak barrels, which results in a wine that is rounder and more nuanced, with less acidity than the average Rueda.  About 150 thousand bottles are produced.

Rolland and Galaretta 2012 Rueda ($22) 89  The 2012 Rueda is a delicious honeyed wine with attractive floral aromas and notes of minerals and ripe apple.  It displays medium acidity and is round on the palate with clean flavors and overall freshness,  A flavorful and easy-drinking wine.

Rolland and Galaretta 2013 Rueda ($22) 90+  The 2013 vintage of the Rueda has better balance and brightness than the 2012. It reveals attractive orchard fruit aromas and flavors with superb freshness and mineral notes. The finish is especially notable, showing a rich, lingering extract.


The Rioja is made from fruit in the Labastida area of Rioja Alavesa, one of the prime growing areas in all of Rioja. This wine is aged 10 months in American oak. Optical sorting is employed to sort out the unripe, pink berries that often show up in Tempranillo bunches.  About 500 thousand bottles are produced annually.

Rolland and Galaretta 2010 Rioja ($23) 90  This 100% Tempranillo from the Labastida area of Rioja Alavesa shows notes of dark cherries and berries, earth and a touch of smoke. It has round, supple tannins and is easy to drink now. Aged 10 months in American oak.

Rolland and Galaretta 2011 Rioja ($23) 91  The 2011 vintage of the Rioja reveals red and black fruit. It’s exceptionally pure and clean, with prominent red fruit on the palate, along with firm tannins and  persistent finish.


The Ribera del Duero is made at the Valtravieso Winery from fruit grown at 900 meters altitude.   It displays bold spicy plum flavors with earthy notes.  It’s aged 10 months in French oak and is the biggest and most tannic of the three wines.  About 150 thousand bottles are produced.

Rolland and Galaretta 2010 Ribera del Duero ($26) 89  This is a big wine made from 25-40 year old vines. It’s bold and ripe on the palate with black cherry and plum flavors,  a chewy texture and fine, firm tannins, finishing very dry.  While this wine is approachable now, it will be better with another year or two in bottle. It’s a blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Merlot.

Rolland and Galaretta 2011 Ribera del Duero ($26) 90  The 2011 Ribera del Duero is bigger in style than the 2010.  It reveals a well-endowed , layered palate with prominent notes of dark berry fruit and loam.   It’s fruit forward but has firm tannins and will benefit from a bit more time in bottle.

Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler

October 2014

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