Coppola lures Margaux winemaker to restored Inglenook

on 13/04/11 at 10:50 am

Wine

Photo: Julie Stupsker/AP

Perhaps Francis Ford Coppola made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, or perhaps wine expert Phillipe Bascaules just loves the smell of Napa Valley in the morning: either way Coppola, director of film classics such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now has lured the prominent winemaker from Château Margaux to breathe life into his California winery.

Coppola said his aim is to make the estate the finest in America for the production of Old World wines, as he announced he has also bought the historic trademark Inglenook.

Bascaules takes over from Scott McLeod, who had resigned as the estate’s winemaker.

Inglenook occupies an important part in the development of wine in the US. The winery was founded in California’s Napa Valley in 1879 by a Finnish sea captain, Gustave Niebaum, who established it as one of the finest in the world. Niebaum brought some of the best European grapevines to Napa.

Château Margaux expert to breathe new life into historic California winery.

Coppola bought part of the Inglenook property in 1975 with the profits from The Godfather. He spent the next two decades adding bits to re-establish the old estate, but the trademark had eluded him until now. Coppola said the arrival of Bascaules was intended to hour the estate’s heritage and restore its legacy.

He said he wanted to help with “invigorating the vineyards, planning a new state-of-the-art winemaking facility, and focusing on what it would take to achieve my goal of restoring this property into America’s greatest wine estate.”

Bascaules, in the same statement, said: “I was charmed by the beauty of the estate and its unique environment. 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. I understand Francis Ford Coppola’s desire to bring the quality of the wines to their fullest potential and I’m excited to explore new methods to reach this goal.”

The statement continues: “Rubicon will continue to be the proprietary name of Inglenook’s flagship wine, and Bascaules, who spent the past 21 years at Château Margaux, will lead a team of talented winemaking professionals dedicated to the goal of making Rubicon the finest New World estate wine produced in the Old World style.”

Bascaules served as estate director for 11 years at Château Margaux.

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