In 1975, Paul Pontallier attended the Grignon National Agronomic Institute of Paris, before specialising in Wine Growing and Oenology at Montpellier. In 1978, he returned to Bordeaux – his home town – to study at the prestigious Talence Institute of Oenology. He prepared a thesis on the ageing conditions of red wine in barrels and he obtained his doctorate in 1981.

A few months later, Paul Pontallier left for Chile to complete his military service. He taught oenology for eighteen months at the Catholic University of Santiago. It was on his return to France, in 1983, that he joined Corinne Mentzelopoulos’s team. He was appointed Managing Director in 1990 when Philippe Barré retired.