Celebrated winemaker and consultant Patrick Léon dies

Patrick Léon, who worked with many of the world's top wine estates, including Mouton Rothschild, Opus One and Château d’Esclans, has died in Bordeaux.

Léon died at his home estate of Château Les Trois Croix in Fronsac.

He was responsible for many of the most lauded wines of the 20th century, and yet was unfailingly modest and self-effacing.

Oeonologist and ampelographer Léon started his career in 1960s Bordeaux, at the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture, where he began an oenology laboratory.

In 1972 he began working with Alexis Lichine & Company, as technical director and general manager of Château Lascombes, before moving to spend nearly 20 years working with Baron Philippe de Rothschild.

He was technical director at Château Mouton Rothschild from 1984 until his retirement in 2003, and was instrumental in the early years of the firm’s Opus One and Almaviva joint-ventures in California and Chile respectively.

In 2006, Léon returned to work with the Lichine family as consultant winemaker for Sacha Lichine, Alexis’ son, at Château d’Esclans in Provence; the estate that brought premium rosé wines Garrus and Whispering Angel into the world.

Among Léon’s other select clients over the past decade have been:

  • Cune in Rioja
  • Spring Mountain Vineyards in Napa
  • Pascal Jolivet in Sancerre
  • FujiSan Winery in Japan
  • Domaine Faiveley in Burgundy

His opinion of consulting tells you a lot about the kind of person he was, saying to those who asked him, ‘we learn as much as we teach’.

Youmna Asseily, who worked with Léon at her Bordeaux estate Château Biac, said, ‘We have lost a wonderful person but also an important piece of the modern history of the wine world.’

Léon bought his Fronsac estate of Les Trois Croix in 1995, running it with his son Bertrand, who also worked alongside his father in Léon Consulting.

Léon was survived by his wife, Yvette, and three children.