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


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

  • Trish Cohen

    Tragic. He was a wonderful, classy man.

  • Sanjay Menon

    Paul Pontalier RIP

  • This tragic news of Paul Pontallier passing away came as such a shock! Corinne and Paul visited India several times and hosted some wonderful dinners in Delhi. Sincere condolences to the family, especially Thibault.

  • Debra Meiburg MW

    Absolutely crushed. He was a true gentleman. Polished, gracious, generous with his time, forward-thinking and a scientist. I will miss him.

  • Stephen Williams

    This is very sad news indeed, the wine world has lost a pioneer and leading influence. Thoughts are for his family, colleagues, associates from many friends who will deeply miss his presence.

  • Ken Weiland

    Some people you just think of as immortal, sad to think of Chateau Margaux without him…

  • Paul Tudor MW

    Tragic news – my thoughts are with his family and friends. I met him once only, but he was a great gentleman and extremely generous with his knowledge.

  • JJ Carre

    Discovering Chateau Margaux with Paul Pontallier 13′ video :

  • Alexander Andrawes

    Very sad to hear about his passing. A wonderful legacy Paul has left at Chateau Margaux. Additionally a wonderful example of how a career in wine can take you to the pinnacle of traditional winemaking. – Alex Andrawes (Estate Wine Brokers)