Château Lynch-Bages

Jean-Michel Cazes

Jean-Michel Cazes

Consistent quality and the tireless energy of its owner Jean-Michel Cazes has made this fifth-growth Pauillac, once dubbed 'the poor man's Mouton', one of the most popular properties in Bordeaux.

It gets its name from the Lynch family - who like many Irish families fled to Bordeaux from Galway in the 16th century after the protestant William of Orange won the battle of the Boyne - and who acquired the property in 1749, remaining at its helm for 75 years.

It then passed through two other families, before being leased to the Cazes family in the 1930s, who finally bought it outright in 1939. It has been under their command ever since - firstly managed by the talented Jean-Michel, and then, since 2006, by his son Jean-Charles, who has continued to run the property to the same high standards. The family also owns Ormes de Pez.

The property lies on the Bages plateau, overlooking the Gironde estuary, with its 100 hectares of vines planted on good Garonne gravel soils. The excellent vineyard management here includes individual treatment of 110 different vine parcels, taking into account the areas each grape variety is best suited: cabernet sauvignon on pure gravel, merlot on clay-gravel, cabernet franc on sandy gravel and the white grapes grown to the west of the estate where it is slightly cooler. The vines have an average age of 30 years but some are as old as 50.

The same level of care is apparent in the winery: gravity-flow technology in the vat room means there is minimal intervention, and the cellarmaster does daily checks, making amendments to each of the 35 vats as necessary, a practice which Lynch-Bages describes as 'like a doctor issuing his prescriptions'.

The property's grand vin is typically a blend of 72% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 5% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot, which ages for 12 to 18 months in French oak, 70% of which is new. With its high proportion of cabernet sauvignon and excellent attention in the vineyards, this is a large, generous, full-bodied claret, but one which never loses its warmth and charm. It can be enjoyed for between eight and 25 years.

Jean-Michel Cazes has been a marvellous ambassador for Bordeaux, and the shops and excellent restaurant that are the hub of the village of Bages, just behind the château, are strongly recommended to members visiting the Médoc. Visitors to the property receive an added bonus of being able to visit the original winery, dating back to 1850, which is one of the few in the region to remain intact.

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