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Margaux winemaker moves to restored Inglenook

Legendary Hollywood film director Francis Ford Coppola has hired Château Margaux estate director Philippe Bascaules as estate manager and winemaker for his Napa Valley estate Rubicon.

The news emerged at the same time as the announcement that Coppola will restore the property’s historic name Inglenook, having acquired the trademark from The Wine Group.

Founded in 1879, Inglenook has played an important role in building the global reputation of Napa. Part of the property was bought by Coppola and his wife in 1975, by which time the estate had been broken up and the name sold. Coppola has spent the past 20 years reuniting these vineyards, a process which has now been completed.

“Welcoming a preeminent winemaker like Philippe Bascaules to the renamed Inglenook expresses my intention to honor the estate’s heritage and restore its legacy,” said Coppola, who set the appointment of Bascaules and acquisition of the Inglenook name within the context of a wider drive to restore the property to its former glory. Other steps currently underway include work to improve the vineyards and a new winery.

Bascaules, who has spent the past 21 years working at Margaux, declared himself “charmed by the beauty of the estate and its unique environment.” He added: “I found the tasting of 1959 Inglenook astonishing with regard to its freshness and complexity, and when I tasted some samples of the 2009 vintage, I recognized the incredible potential of this property.”

Bascaules will now work closely with Pomerol-based consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, who has overseen the winemaking at Rubicon since 2008.

Since the acquisition of the Inglenook brand covers only the intellectual property, The Wine Group now plans to transfer the current wines being sold under this name to different labels in the next few months. The Rubicon name will be kept for the flagship Inglenook wine.

Gabriel Savage, 12.04.2011

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