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Ornellaia's Axel Heinz Will Become CEO of Château Lascombes

Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton McCoy hire the winemaker for their Bordeaux project after a long tenure in Tuscany producing Ornellaia and Masseto


After more than 17 years producing some of Tuscany's most renowned wines in Bolgheri, Ornellaia winemaker Axel Heniz is going back to Bordeaux. Wine Spectator has learned that Lawrence Wine Estates has hired Heinz to serve as CEO of Château Lascombes. Partners Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton McCoy purchased the Margaux second growth six months ago.

"Axel is a master of his craft and the work he has done while overseeing Ornellaiaand Masseto have taken this already heralded estate to new heights," said McCoy, CEO of Lawrence Wine Estates. "I am thrilled to work with Axel to bring Château Lascombes to its full potential as one of the greatest wine estates in the world."

Heinz has been estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany since 2015, after starting as winemaker for Ornellaia in 2005. He has earned a reputation as one of the world's top winemakers during his time there. Born in Germany, Heinz grew up in Bordeaux, studied agronomy with a specialization in viticulture and enology at the University of Bordeaux and worked at Château La Tour Carnet and other Bordeaux wineries during his early career.

"In life, there are moments where you feel you must make important steps," Heinz told Wine Spectator. "For personal reasons, for my family and professional reasons, it was time to go back home. I'm half Bordelaise, so it was time to make the move."

He added that he felt Ornellaia was in good hands. "I'll do my best to make a great transition. We have a seasoned team and I'm sure they will continue to do great work."


Château Lascombes has been sold to Napa winery owner.

Château Lascombes, the Margaux-based second growth in Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification, has become the first winery in Europe to be acquired by Lawrence Wine Estates, which already owns top Napa wineries Heitz Cellar, Burgess Cellars and Stony Hill.

The group was established by the Lawrence family, led by US entrepreneur Gaylon Lawrence, alongside managing partner and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Jr (MS).

‘We are honoured to become the new stewards of such a historical estate,’ said Lawrence. ‘This chateau has some of the greatest vineyards in Margaux and our family looks forward to caring for Château Lascombes for many generations to come.’

Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. Insurance group MACSF – Mutuelle d’Assurance du Corps de Santé Français – has owned Lascombes for the past 11 years and retains a minority stake in the estate, Lawrence Wine Estates said.

‘Château Lascombes is the largest estate in Margaux,’ said McCoy Jr. ‘With such exceptional vineyard holdings, we are confident that we can craft some of the most exceptional wines in the region and we have full confidence that [technical director] Delphine Barboux can achieve this.’

He added, ‘Château Lascombes is a special place, and we will spare no expense to ensure that we bring it to its full potential.’

Lascombes has around 100 hectares of vineyards, including a gravelly outcrop planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, a block of clay-gravel with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as clay-limestone plots planted to Merlot, Lawrence Wine Estates said.

It noted that the estate traces its history to the 17th century, when Jean de Lascombes bought the Segonnes estate in Margaux in 1681, naming it after himself and building up the vineyard holdings.




With one hundred thirty hectares of vines (including one hundred twenty in the Margaux appellation and ten in the Haut- Médoc appellation) Château Lascombes is one of the largest estates in the Médoc.

The château, whose elegant profile can be admired from the entrance gate, contains an array of elements of different architectural styles ranging from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The original château, a classic chartreuse in design (the first floor of which remains today), was built in the 17th century. Successive owners then made their own architectural contributions, especially during the 19th century. English influence, which was widespread at the time, can particularly be observed on the building’s upper floors. From the surrounding grounds, the view of the château and its adjacent vineyard is superb.


A central figure in the history of Château Lascombes was Knight Antoine de Lascombes. As well as being the château’s first recorded owner, it was he who gave Lascombes its name. Born in 1625, he was to forge the destiny of the estate. One of his descendants, Jean-François de Lascombes, a councillor at the Bordeaux parliament, Crown Prosecutor at the Admiralty and member of the Academy, dedicated his fortune to the upkeep of the château and most particularly to enhancing the quality of its wines. In 1855, Château Lascombes was ranked as a Second Classified Growth in the classification of the Grand Crus Classés.

In 1952, Alexis Lichine, both château owner and Bordeaux merchant, and an excellent taster widely respected by his peers, bought the château and completely overhauled it. Under his leadership, the estate enjoyed a golden era, and its renown spread around the world. Writing several works on wine and travelling widely, he sought passionately to make Château Lascombes a wine of the very highest order.

A man of experience and a highly-reputed winemaker, Dominique Befve took charge of Château Lascombes in 2001. His years spent previously at great estates such as Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac paved the way for his future post at Château Lascombes. Under his management, the vineyard was restructured, and the wine-making methods were completely rethought, leading to the introduction of more modern, high-performing wine-making equipment.

In 2011, the MACSF became the new owners when they bought Château Lascombes from Colony Capital. They immediately sought to take the quality of the wines to even greater heights and thereby gain permanent recognition for the fine work begun by the estate’s first owners. Marcel Kahn, MACSF’s General Manager, is today the Managing.



Everything begins in the vines.

Behind this simple truism lies a series of rigorous and meticulous vineyard tasks (de-leafing, green harvesting and so on) performed throughout the seasons. At Château Lascombes, all the work on the vines is done manually. In recent years, and since the arrival of Dominique Befve, numerous adjustments have been introduced to enhance grape ripeness and quality. Regular, thorough ripeness analyses are carried out, though it is always the tasting of the berries that determines the harvesting dates. The grapes are therefore tasted regularly to estimate their optimal ripeness.


Since 2001, Château Lascombes has been equipped with the latest high-performing tools to enable optimal handling of the grapes while keeping them perfectly intact. Built on four floors, the vat cellar enables the wine-making process to be carried out using gravity systems. Different-sized temperature-controlled stainless steel and oak vats allow the crop to be vinified plot by plot and grape variety by grape variety. Demanding and rigorous techniques, such as a pre-fermentation cold soak and an ageing on the lees, have been adopted to achieve the highest levels of excellence.


The ageing process is the last stage in the making of the wine. At this point both the handling of the wine and the period of time of ageing are important. The First Wine is run into French oak barrels by gravity and is aged for 18 to 20 months. After doing its malo-lactic fermentation in barrel it begins its ageing. A barrel rotation system allows the lees to be brought into suspension, giving the wine more flesh and fullness without any air coming into contact with the wine. The different batches are then blended according to their character, terroir and power. The harmony of this blend produces the characteristic richness and complexity of the wine of Château Lascombes.


The Château Lascombes vineyard stretches over 112 hectares (276 acres) in the Margaux appellation and 6 hectares (15 acres) in the Haut-Médoc appellation. It is today one of the largest vineyards of the 1855 Classified Growths. The Château Lascombes vines are located in the most prized parcels of Margaux and have the advantage of being planted in a unique variety of soils for this appellation. The vineyard is made up of three distinct parts of roughly equal surface areas: a gravelly mound, on which Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are planted, a clay-gravel area planted with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and lastly, clay-limestone plots, perfectly suited to the Merlot grape variety planted there. In fact, Merlot makes up the majority of the grape composition of the vineyard with some 50%, which sets Lascombes apart from other Margaux growths.



The wines of Château Lascombes are aged in barrels for eighteen to twenty months. Using Oxoline barrel racks, the estate has adopted highly dependable technology based on simple principles. While from the outside the winery conforms closely to the architecture of the local region, the interior offers a more contemporary style, particularly in the first-year cellar, where the lighting’s fluorescent, blue halo never fails to catch the attention of visitors. In each of the cellars, traditional materials combine to offer an image of classicism, strength and sobriety.



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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Markus Del Monego MW / BWW2024 Finalist, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  87 wines 

BORDEAUX 2022 VINTAGE - TOP 80 Wines. It was an advantage that 2021 was a wet year so there was a base for this 2022, says Thienpont. Excellent nose with fragrant fruit, blackberries, cerise noir, raspberries, red forest berries and fine floral hints of violets backed by subtle oak, discreet toasting and gingerbread spices. On the palate delicious tannins with silky texture, sweet fruit quoting the nose, great precision and sophistication. An exceptional VCC very close to perfection, with excellent freshness, class and an almost never ending finish. 

7m 11d ago

 Château Lascombes  has news

Ornellaia's Axel Heinz Will Become CEO of Château Lascombes Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton  more ...

8m 13d ago

 Tastingbook AI /Artificial Intelligence, Wine Writer  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  100 wines 

Tastingbook.com has rated Bordeaux’s 100 best-known wines from 2022 vintage without tasting them. The points are formed by the tastingbook AI which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known wine Critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook's professionals from the last 52 Bordeaux vintages (1980-2021), also taking into account the climatic conditions of those vintages, the quality and the reputation of the producers and their ability to produce wines in vintages similar to 2022. As a new element, regional weather information collected from satellites over the past 12 years has now been included.
Based on tastingbook’s more than 70,000 wine reviews and other statistics generated during the last 51 Bordeaux vintages, the tastingbook’s artificial intelligence predicted the score for the 2022 Bordeaux wines, like it did successfully for the 2020 and 2021 vintages. The score now given is the one to which the wines of the mentioned wineries should be able to achieve according to this prediction.

9m 13d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / BWW2024 Finalist, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  525 wines 

The arrivage tasting proved the great quality of the vintage 2020. The promises made in the glass during the en primeur tastings were kept in this tasting session. An excellent vintage with wonderful and convincing qualities.  


10m 7d ago

 Château Lascombes  has news

Ornellaia's Axel Heinz Will Become CEO of Château Lascombes Gaylon Lawrence and Carlton  more ...

1y 1m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / BWW2024 Finalist, MW (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  18 wines 

The "en primeur" tasting week in Bordeaux is always a chance to taste other wines too. Some of them might be from historical vintages such as the wines presented at Château Lascombes on the occasion of the opening of the new fermentation cellar. Other wines come from different appellations. In every case there are great things to discover. This is a small selection of surprises during the week of April 19 till April 25, 2022 and some bottles received at the beginning of May in Essen.

1y 6m ago

 Christer Byklum/ BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  45 wines 

2021 Château Margaux / Ruby. Cassis, blackberries, anise, floral, violets, spices, dark fruits, anise nose, nuanced, layered, scented and detailed. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark fruits, anise, spices, liquorice, nuanced, elegant texture, long finish. 13,1% alcohol. PH 3,64. 97-99

1y 6m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / BWW2024 Finalist, MW (Germany)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  745 wines 

This years "en primeur" tasting seemed like a journey in time. Bordeaux is back to a more moderate alcohol level and the style is lighter and more elegant. One could say the wines are reminiscent of the 80s, however made with more experience and the modern techniques today. It is not a powerful vintage. The wines are elegant, however the well made ones have an excellent persistence, depth and length. They offer a convincing potential for a long ageing and promote elegance in Bordeaux again. It is a true vintage of terroir although there is a lot of talk about a vintners vintage. However, terroir was the decisive factor in 2021.

Professor Axel Marchal has presented the 10 key points of this vintage on the occasion of the Union des Grands Crus press tasting:

"1. The start of the growing season was marked by severe frost on the 7th and 8th of April.

2. Wet and gloomy weather in May slowed down the vine growth although a providential window of fine weather helped flowering unfold in ideal conditions in early June.

3. Thunderstorms in June slowed down the onset of water stress.

4: Cool, dull weather in July increased the threat of vine diseases.

5. Véraison (colour change) was observed in mid-August, while vine growth had not stopped yet.

6. Thanks to a cool summer, the dry white wines are brilliant, lively and aromatic.

7. The wonderful Indian Summer allowed the red grape varieties to ripen in ideal conditions and preserved aromas.

8. The Merlots are fresh and aromatic while the Cabernets from the finest terroirs are well-structured with good balance.

9. The development of Botrytis cinerea in Sauternes was delayed by the cool summer and eventually triggered by rainfall in mid-September.

10. Despite low yields, the botrytised sweet white wines are of excellent quality."

It will be exciting to see the evolution of this vintage which produced in many cases yields on a very low scale. Arguably it will be a vintage praised for it finesse in the future. A vintage rated on finesse and persistence rather than on sheer power and opulence.

1y 6m ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / BWW2024 Finalist, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  213 wines 

The 2019 vintage was tasted under pandemic conditions in spring 2020. At that time, the samples were sent to Essen and tasted within 48 hours after arrival. Now the vintage has been bottled and it is possible to double check the impressions just a year and half later. Overall the quality was excellent, proving the excellent style of the vintage. Some wines were performing better than during the primeur tastings, however most of the wines confirmed the quality already on show in spring 2020. As there are still samples coming in, there will be more tastings over the coming days and I will publish a second set of wines shortly before Christmas and in January some "late arrivals".

1y 11m ago

 Izak Litwar / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  56 wines 

Bordeaux 2020 Vintage - Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2020- lots of aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, powerful on the palate with a strong backbone, big concentration, multilayered and with great length. Long, long finish. Impressive effort. 96-97p.

2y 5m ago

 Christer Byklum/ BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  38 wines 

Château Mouton-Rothschild 2020 / Ruby. Fruit driven, cassis, anise, some spices nose, blackberries, intensely scented, almost transparent yet such depth. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark fruits, smooth and detailed, layered, anise, liquorice, deep, long. Superb freshness to it. Such energy. Pauillac is not the place that shines the most in 2020, but this one does. 97-99

2y 5m ago

 Izak Litwar / BWW2024 Finalist, Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Lascombes . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Château Margaux 2018 - 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Impressed greatly with an incredibly scented nose, elegance, sophisticated and refined touch, astonishing complexity, and length. Simply a proper "iron fist in the velvet glove"! Amazing stuff. 99-100p (98-100p).

2y 6m ago

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