Patrick Maroteaux, owner of Bordeaux fourth-growth Château Branaire-Ducru in St.-Julien, died Nov. 19, after a long fight with cancer. He was 67.
Maroteaux was a well-known figure in the Bordeaux wine trade, not only for his wines, but for his tireless efforts promoting the region during his years as president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) from 2000 to 2008.
"He will really be missed in Bordeaux. He was always a source of strength and wisdom and vision," Sylvie Cazes, owner of Château Chauvin, told Wine Spectator. "He really thought about how to help the entire region."
Maroteaux was born in northern France. His family acquired Branaire-Ducru in 1988, and he began managing the estate after a career first in finance and then the sugar business.
Under his stewardship the historic estate underwent a remarkable renaissance. Branaire-Ducru was once part of the Beychevelle estate, until it was sold off in the 17th century upon the death of its then owner Bernard de la Valette, Duc d'Eperon. A man named Jean-Baptiste Braneyre bought the land in 1680, and the château was built in 1824. But by the time the Maroteaux family came into the picture, Branaire-Ducru was in need of renovation.
The Maroteaux family launched a strategy of substantial, long-term investments in the vineyards and cellars. Some of the initial improvements included using gravity-led vinification in the cellars, one of the first in the region to do so. He also hired a talented young technical director named Philippe Dhalluin.
Dhalluin would leave for Château Mouton-Rothschild in 2002, but Maroteaux continued to recruit talented staff. At the same time, he introduced a second wine produced from the younger vines, Duluc de Branaire-Ducru, improving the quality of the first wine. And nearly a decade ago, he began installing a state-of-the-art cellar equipped for precision winemaking.
Maroteaux was also heavily involved in the wider promotion of Bordeaux wine. In 2000, he was elected president of the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, an association that promotes the wines of its 135 members and hosts the popular barrel tastings of the latest vintage each spring.
"Patrick was admired for his dynamism, open-mindedness, and respect for our values. He was a tireless traveller," said Olivier Bernard, the current UGC president and owner of Domaine de Chevalier, in an email.
Under Maroteaux's tenure, the UGC launched the popular Week-End des Grands Crus in Bordeaux. "He brought a new structure to the UGC, then developed it, expanding into new markets and then expanding into wine tourism—he brought it up to a whole new level," said Cazes, who worked with Maroteaux at the UGC.
Maroteaux was also president of the St.-Julien wine council and active in the Bordeaux wine council.
Maroteaux had been battling cancer for several years. He is survived by his wife, Evelyne, his children Anne-Laure, François-Xavier, Pierre-Henry and Sophie. His son François-Xavier now runs Branaire-Ducru.