Paul Pontallier

22 April 1957 – 28 March 2016
By CH’NG Poh Tiong
Part I of III

Tomorrow, 28 March 2020, is the fourth anniversary of the passing of Paul Pontallier. This is the first of three articles to remember my friend.

Paul and I in Chengdu for a Chateau Margaux dinner in 2012. I had helped the First Growth pair several vintages with the menu. Photo taken by Paul’s son Thibault.

There are somethings which although we cannot pinpoint the precise moment they occurred, we still know for a certainty that they happened.

When and where did the breeze originate. And where will it end? The source may be a mystery but we enjoy, and are grateful for its refreshing quality.

I don’t remember the exact year in which I first met Paul Pontallier. It was in the 1990s.

What I know for a certainty is that what began as a journalist tasting wine and interviewing the Chief Winemaker & General Manager of Chateau Margaux, not long later, we became friends. From then on, Paul and I almost never talked about wine, except when exchanging remarks about the glasses in front of us. When the tasting was over, we talked about family, books, music, paintings, culture, food and life.

“I love children,” Paul once announced with a smile made that much more brilliant by his watery eyes. By that, he did not just meant his own four children from two marriages, but children in general.

Dinner at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in 2011.

I don’t remember the year this was taken but it is an early photo. The sun was a bit in Paul’s eyes. The famous smile always shines through.

Actually, there was always a child-like innocence and honesty about Paul.  I never once heard him raise his voice. Or even showed impatience. He was calm but could also be disappointed with people who did not exercise the necessary dedication to a job or task assigned to them. But, still, Paul would not raise his voice. Instead, he would give his reason. And explained the situation to the other person.

In the twenty or so years he was my friend, when tasting wine or having a meal together, Paul never once used his mobile phone.

You may also want to read … Paul Pontallier Part II

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