Left Bank Bordeaux properties are typically not contiguous. Although we associate them with a place, a chateau, most of the time the vines are spread far and wide across the appellation. And as most of you know, if those vines are within the appellation, no matter where they are or whose they once were, they are considered the quality level of the current owner. Meaning if Chateau Latour buys some vineyards way on the outskirts of Pauillac near the Haut Medoc, those vineyards are instantly First Growth vineyards. A little quixotic, right?
Most chateaux know that this situation really won’t stand for the fine connoissuer and his or her palate. To continue the example, if they are drinking Chateau Latour, or Font de Latour, or Pauillac de Latour, they want it to taste like Latour. So most Left Bank chateaux have gone on a program of buying, swapping, or otherwise exchanging vineyards with one another. So that all of Latour’s vineyards, no matter which wine they are destined for, taste like Latour and are grown near the famous tower (Latour has no chateau anymore).
And so it is the case with Lynch Bages. Jean Marc Cazes, the owner of Lynch-Bages, is nothing short of a visionary. Not only has he undertaken the revitalization of the hamlet of Bages, as well as opening Bordeaux to wine tourisim and promoting gastronomy, he has completely refurbished Lynch-Bages and has spent the last 20 years on a program of purchasing, renovating, swapping and exchanging vineyards so that the estate’s wines can all align. That brings us to this bargain of a beauty in Bordeaux – Lynch-Bages Pauillac.
“Pauillac” used to be a third wine of Lynch-Bages – fruit from those far-flung areas in Pauillac away from the main chateau. But now, that is certainly not the case – it sits right alongside Echo de Lynch-Bages (the known second wine), if not actually displacing it. All of those far-flung parcels have now been swapped, and this is home-turf vineyards, the building blocks of Lynch-Bages.
Why not just make more Echo and discontinue this wine? Well, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because of the Bordeaux wine trade. The main wine and the second are sold through the merchant houses of Bordeaux. This wine is represented globally by the Cazes family – eliminating at least two middlemen in the process. For us, this means everything I mentioned before – one of the finest of Pauillac’s properties, in one of the best vintages, at an exceptional drink-now kinda price:
A pure burst of dark red and blue fruits emerges from the glass, immediately followed by graphite, leather, a touch of mint, mocha and very expressive floral notes. I’m tasting from a Zalto Bordeaux and nothing could be more profound: There is a seamless integration here that yields up exceptional drinking. It’s fresh, lively and open for business right now. I prefer it decanted. And it. certainly doesn’t need to be drunk up – this beauty will last for at least another decade.