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.