It was with great sadness that we learned that Paul Pontallier had passed away on Easter Monday. Paul was the Director of Chateau Margaux and a Bordeaux institution. He will be hugely missed, starting with this year’s en primeur tastings in April: tasting with M. Pontallier at Margaux, where he’d been in charge since 1990, was one of the highlights of the calendar.
Paul would have been 60 in April. I’ve had the privilege of sampling and chewing over pretty much every vintage with him since the turn of the century. You couldn’t wish for a more interesting, charming and – I’m sure he won’t mind me saying – a more polished host. He was always impeccably turned out, had beautiful manners and was extremely generous with his time and knowledge.
I’ve been lucky, helped by living less than an hour away, in that I could fix an appointment outside the hustle and bustle of ’en primeur week’, and steal a little bit more of his time. I’d also slip back some eighteen months later to taste the wines after bottling with him, or intrude during the harvest. I am, though, just one of hundreds of people that Paul made feel welcome at this wonderful property.
I must dig out my notes for some of his classic lines, like “it’s possible that we’ve made a better wine than this, but for the moment I can’t think of one”. In the meantime, though, it’s fair to assume that right now he’d say “don’t worry, I’m not needed to present the 2015s – the wines speak for themselves.”
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