Day three on primeurs week saw me start off in Margaux with an early morning tasting with Thomas Duroux at Château Palmer. There is great depth to Palmer in 2015. It looks to be an exciting vintage in the appellation. Though there is some variation in experience, Margaux, overall, had less of the September rain that dampened things further up the Haut-Médoc. An emotional trip to Château Margaux then beckoned. This was the first primeurs tasting in the château’s new Norman Foster designed chais and winemaking facility. Obviously it was also the first primeurs for thirty years or more unaccompanied by Paul Pontallier. It was an emotional experience. All the things he had worked for at Margaux had come true – an impressive new cellar and a beautiful wine in 2015 – a fitting epitaph for a fine man.
Posts Tagged ‘Paul Pontallier’
The death of Paul Pontallier, director of Château Margaux, has cast an undoubted shadow over the primeur tastings that will take place next week. Aged 59, he died this Easter Monday of cancer. When André Mentzelopoulos bought Margaux in 1976, at a time when it was seriously underperforming, he had the wisdom to engage Emile Peynaud as consultant. It is said that he told Peynaud “I want you to make me the best wine in the world.” To which Peynaud replied: “Give me the best grapes in the world and I will make you the best wine in the world.” Or words to that effect. It was Peynaud’s young protégé Paul Pontallier, who came to Margaux in 1983, who was largely responsible for achieving that goal, with the unswerving support of the current owner Corinne (daughter of André Mentzelopoulos).
Jancis Robinson reported on her site this morning the very sad news of the untimely loss of Paul Pontallier, 59, the Managing Director of Château Margaux. Pontallier had worked at the estate since 1983 and was one of the leading figures in Bordeaux and of the wider world of wine. Erudite, cultured and always impeccably dressed (often in his trademark tweed jackets) Paul Pontallier, was never one to exaggerate the virtues of a vintage during the annual primeurs ‘shindig’. I remember his particularly frank account of the appalling conditions of the 2013 vintage for example and his embarrassment in having to describe 2010 as another great year, hot on the heels of 2009. First class in his analytical skills as well as in his winemaking/growing nouse, he will be sorely missed by everyone in the world of fine wine.
At Château Margaux Paul Pontallier describes 2014 as very good for their reds, and a great year for the white Pavillon Blanc. Overall 2014 is certainly a classic vintage in the sense of elegance and proportion found in the wines and the attractive freshness that they display. It will probably vie with 2012 as the best vintage here since the heady days of 2009 and 2010. Time will tell. Pavillon Rouge is a structured, classic and fresh Margaux while Pavillon Blanc is indeed a beauty. It completes a thrilling set of highly successful back-to-back vintages for this label. Is it the best Pavillon Blanc ever? It’s probably the best I’ve tasted.