Paul Pontallier, long time managing director of Château Margaux, has died only one week before the Bordeaux 2015 en primeur tastings.

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Paul Pontallier died this morning (28 March) on the eve of the Bordeaux 2015 en primeur campaign.

Pontallier, who had been battling cancer for some time, had spent more than 30 years at first growth estate Château Margaux, joining the company in 1983 and becoming managing director in 1990 after the retirement of Philippe Barré.

He has been widely credited with significant improvements in the wine, alongside estate owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos.

Born April 22 1956, Pontallier studied at Montpellier and at the faculty of oenology in Bordeaux under the renowned Emile Peynaud, where he wrote a thesis on how red wine ages in barrel – graduating in 1981.

After a short period of military service, during which he taught oenology at the Catholic University of Santiago in Chile, he joined Margaux and has been an intrinsic part of the estate ever since.

Last year, Pontallier confirmed that he had appointed a new technical director at Margaux – Sebastien Vergne – following the departure of previous technical director Thomas Do Chi Nam.

A full obituary will follow.

Additional reporting by Chris Mercer