1977

ANDRÉ MENTZELOPOULOS : "A HELLENE IN THE MÉDOC"

It was in 1977 that André Mentzelopoulos bought the property. The ionic columns that adorn the peristyle of the château reminded him of his native Greece and enabled him to grasp, thanks to his formidable intellectual acuity, the great volume of work required to bring Margaux back to first place, the only place that it was worthy of.
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It was in 1977 that André Mentzelopoulos bought the property. The ionic columns that adorn the peristyle of the château reminded him of his native Greece and enabled him to grasp, thanks to his formidable intellectual acuity, the great volume of work required to bring Margaux back to first place, the only place that it was worthy of.

The exceptional life of this man is like a novel ! He was born in 1915 in Patras in the Peloponnese of a father who was a hotelier and who was adamant his children spoke several foreign languages so that they could realise the dream of so many Greeks; to go abroad and make their fortunes!

André would fulfill his father’s expectations. After studying literature in Grenoble he went to the Far East, to Burma, China, India, and finally in Pakistan where he made his fortune importing and exporting cereals.

On his return to Europe, he married a French woman and, in 1958, he acquired the Félix Potin company, founded in 1844, that owned eighty local grocery stores. With this company, André created a modern distribution enterprise with 1600 points of sale located in prestigious buildings in Paris.

This man, his accent still melodious – he spoke six languages - and who liked to quote Winston Churchill, fell in love with his Château Margaux.

In 1977, André Mentzelopoulos was a pioneer. Bordeaux wines were just emerging from a serious economic and qualitative crisis; investors weren’t interested in classified growths and owners couldn’t afford to develop their land.

André Mentzelopoulos was proactive and invested heavily without any hope of immediate return in a subdued market. This was a number of years before the new Bordeaux golden age at the end of the XX century.

He took spectacular action, be it in the vineyard, the cellars or the château. He put in place the drainage, the replantation… Under the passionate supervision of Emile Peynaud, renowned oenologist, he reintroduced the Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux by considerably increasingthe selection, and he redefined the Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux. He introduced ageing in new barrels and he planned the construction of the first large underground cellar in the region, a technical achievement. The château, registered as an historic monument since 1946, was restored under the supervision of the inspectors from France Historic Monuments and was patiently decorated by the celebrated Henri Samuel who created the XVIII French rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In this way, André Mentzelopoulos orchestrated the reconstruction of the architectural and viticultural heritage of Château Margaux with the objective of enabling the terroir to once again demonstrate its fabulous qualities.

The 1978 vintage was immediately recognised as exceptional, proof of the efficiency and quantity of André Mentzelopoulos’s work.

He died in 1980, too early and too quickly to enjoy the renaissance of his Château Margaux ; no other owner had played such a profound role in such a short time in the albeit age-old history of Château Margaux.