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Michel Rolland Debuts New Super-Premium Spanish Wine Brand, Rolland Galarreta

October 14, 2014

Renowned oenologist Michel Rolland has teamed with Spanish wine entrepreneur Javier Galarreta to launch a new upscale wine brand focused on the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Rueda regions. The new label, Rolland Galarreta, will hit the U.S. market around the end of November, imported by Virginia-based Kysela Père et Fils Ltd.

Rolland Galarreta’s range includes Rueda, Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines retailing at $22, $24 and $26 respectively. The Rueda, a 2012 vintage made from that region’s signature Verdejo grape, is sourced from vineyards in the village of La Seca. The Rioja, a 2010 which is 100% Tempranillo, comes from the Rioja Alavesa subzone, while the 2010 Ribera del Duero (85% Tempranillo and 15% Merlot) is produced from some of the highest altitude vineyards in that region. Annual production across the three wines is 800,000 bottles, with the Rioja accounting for 500,000 bottles and the other two at 150,000 each.

Rolland Galarreta marks the first Spanish brand to which the prominent Bordeaux-based oenologist and winemaking consultant has lent his name. “I’ve loved Spain for many years, but my problem there, most of the time, was the viticulture,” Rolland tells SND. “I said to Javier in the beginning, if we can control the viticulture, I’ll come, because I’ve understood for a long time that there are not really good oenologists; there are good grapes. So Javier found places where we could have that control.”

Galarreta is president and director general of Spanish wine marketer ARAEX, which he founded with a focus on Rioja Alavesa wines in 1993. In 2001, ARAEX expanded with a second unit, Spanish Fine Wines, comprised of independent Spanish producers based both within and outside Rioja. Altogether, ARAEX and Spanish Fine Wines currently sell 10.5 million bottles annually across 70 countries.

Rolland Galarreta, a separate project held jointly between the two partners, was started in 2010, and is utilizing the facilities of ARAEX’s member producers and its global distribution network.

Galarreta sees potential for Spanish wine as a category at the $20-$25 price point at retail in the U.S. “Spain is now coming up,” he says, observing that previously the country was hurting its reputation with too much reliance on the bulk wine segment. “Today, Spain is much more concentrated on producing quality wines, and I think it can play a bigger role in the global wine industry.”


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