Ornellaia director Thomas Duroux has decided to return to his native Bordeaux to head the third growth Chateau Palmer.

Duroux, who has been at the estate in Bolgheri since 2001, has worked in Bordeaux, Italy, Hungary and the US. Now 34 he will be managing the production of Chateau Palmer, co-owned by 22 members of families that include Sichels and Mähler-Besses.

Duroux starts his appointment on 1 July, taking over from managing director and co-owner Bertrand Bouteiller. He will work with Philippe Delfaut, who remains technical director.

He joined Ornellaia when Robert Mondavi bought a stake in the company, forming a joint-venture with Frescobaldi.

According to Frescobaldi Duroux left Ornellaia because he wanted to be closer to his family in Bordeaux.

Lamberto Frescobaldi, managing director of Marchesi Frescobaldi, said, ‘We highly respected his professional capability in vineyard management, both as a winemaker and as an agronomist.’

In 2003 Duroux brought in several technical changes to Ornellaia’s production line including replacing the fermentation tanks for smaller ones, in an €8m investment to be implemented by 2005

‘In this way I can vinify separate parcels of vineyard,’ he explained. ‘It will ensure better precision in fruit selection and single vineyard blending.’.

Ornellaia MD Leonardo Raspini said they were in the process of appointing a new winemaker. For the time being the work implemented by Duroux would be supervised by Raspini and Duroux’s assistant Anna Martens.

Written by Michele Shah