2010 Chateau Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, Magnum (1.5L) JD98/RP97
1990 Chateau Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, Bottle (750ml) [Top Shoulder] RP99/VM97

Chateau Lynch Bages: Underrated Bordeaux Gem

 

Lynch-Bages: a Pauillac “Super Second” drinking far above its station

Château Lynch-Bages, named for the former 18th-century owner Thomas Lynch (as well as the small village Bages), begins its modern era with the Cazes family, who has overseen the estate for nearly a century. The wines saw success in the decades preceding, cherished enough to have ranked as 5th growth in the 1855 Classification, but it was under the Cazes’ leadership and their push towards more rigorous standards that allowed the château to achieve its high-performing status today.

While the chateau may be officially classified as a 5th growth, the wines today consistently supersede this designated category, earning it its illustrious status as a “Super Second” wine. The authoritative wine trading platform Liv-Ex confirms this informal moniker with its official rankings, placing Lynch-Bages with only nine other chateaux as a 2nd Growth wine, the only 5th growth to have made this leap. It is without a doubt that these wines over-deliver and provide incredible value to those who seek them out. Though the low placement in the 1855 Classification may be unjust, the savvy consumer can benefit from this opulent expression of Pauillac.

Lynch-Bages wines are a powerful representation of Pauillac’s deeper tones of cedar and tobacco. The style is polished and showy, flaunting an abundance of new oak as only top Bordeaux can, and fashioned to be more immediately gratifying.

"There is little doubt that Lynch-Bages deserves its reputation as one of the true great wines of Bordeaux” ~Jane Anson

Amid the array of Bordeaux producers acknowledged by the 1855 classification, Chateau Lynch-Bages emerges as an underestimated treasure. This discreetly classified fifth growth possesses a magnetic allure, crafting wines that rival the esteemed second growths in reputation and stature. Resonating with a symphony of approval from acclaimed critics, Robert Parker's praise rings out, affirming that Lynch-Bages "consistently performs at a second-growth level." Meanwhile, the echoes of Wine Spectator resound, acknowledging that “Lynch has always represented excellent value for money. It’s always been second growth quality.” The recognition bestowed upon Lynch-Bages is well-deserved. The Cazes family not only excels in crafting quality wines but also maintains a distinctive consistency across vintages. Whether you seek a savvy investment or a prestigious yet affordable Bordeaux, Chateau Lynch-Bages is the prime destination.

Ascending Excellence

The recent surge in quality at Lynch-Bages traces back to 1939, when Jean-Charles Cazes acquired the estate from General Félix de Vial. The property remains within the Cazes family's grasp to this day. Jean-Charles commenced winemaking in the early 1930s by leasing Lynch-Bages' vines. Facing ailing vineyards upon assuming estate control, he embarked on extensive replanting. This deliberate act of patience was born out of necessity, as financial constraints restricted outright acquisition, propelling Jean-Charles to meticulously mend the vineyard before claiming Chateau Lynch-Bages as his own.

The baton of stewardship passed to Jean-Charles' son, Andre, who assumed full estate control in 1966. However, the estate's ascent truly began in 1973 with the arrival of the third generation: Jean-Michel Cazes. Swiftly, Jean-Michel initiated modernization efforts, introducing a new vat room, expanding cellars, and orchestrating a comprehensive 15-year property renovation. This transformative era also etched a historic note, as Lynch-Bages became one of the pioneering Chateaux to introduce its wines to the Chinese market in 1986.

Jean-Michel's leadership bore fruit, with legendary vintages like 1985, 1989, 1990, and 2000 shining under his stewardship. In 2006, the fourth-generation custodian, Jean-Charles Cazes, assumed full control of the estate, carrying his great-grandfather's name. The period from 2017 to 2021 witnessed extensive renovation led by the architecturally talented offspring of the Louvre's creator. Now fully equipped, the property boasts 80 gravity-flow vats of various sizes, enabling meticulous parcel-by-parcel vinification. The below cellar permits gravity-fed barrel management. This comprehensive modernization places Chateau Lynch-Bages at the forefront of Bordeaux winemaking.

Vineyard Tapestry

Encompassing an impressive 247 acres, Chateau Lynch-Bages' vineyards yield 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. These vineyards divide into three sections: one gracing the Bages plateau near the village of Bages, another near Pauillac, and a third adjacent to Chateau Pichon Lalande, near the St. Julien border. These sections further subdivide into 140 separate parcels. The vines boast an average age of around 30 years, with select plots nearing a venerable 90 years.

Redefining Expectations

In totality, Chateau Lynch-Bages boasts a remarkable record, marked by high-quality wine production since the late 1980s. Lynch-Bages wines, known for their longevity, are believed to gracefully age for almost half a century. Concentrated and potent, they exude a captivating charm that appeals to collectors and connoisseurs alike. Despite being classified as a fifth growth, these wines represent exceptional quality and investment potential. While humbly categorized, they offer unmatched value and investment possibilities within Bordeaux. The call of Chateau Lynch-Bages invites you to step beyond the periphery, to embrace the extraordinary prowess of a chateau that consistently overachieves.

Written by: Craig Headding

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