One of the most important things I’ve recently learned about Bordeaux is that while the official Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855 can be a good indicator of quality and terroir, the wine region is also home to to a growing number of top producers whose wine regularly exceeds the expectations of their original lowly classification.

Château Lynch-Bages is certainly an example of a wine that consistently punches above its rank. The estate is classified as Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus), but the deliciously rich, aromatic and still youthful 1995 Château Lynch-Bages was a highlight of last Thursday’s Bordeaux tasting, standing up particularly well against the first growth Château Latour 2001. In fact, the Wine Advocate’s Neil Martin argues that “value-for-money aside, in recent years, several verticals have confirmed that Lynch Bages is a Second Growth in all but name and furthermore, it can occasionally flirt with First Growth quality.” (Neil Martin, How to run a Chateau: Lynch Bages 1959 – 2006,, January 2010)

The success of Château Lynch-Bages is due to the foresight and talent of the Cazes family, who bought the Pauillac estate in 1939 after managing it during the early 1930s. As Jean-Michel Cazes explained to the Wine Spectator’s James Suckling, his grandfather “was a very good winemaker. After World War II, he was one of the few winemakers of the time that made riper, more modern-style wines. He believed in harvesting riper grapes and looking for good concentration and more color.” (James Suckling, Long-Lived Lynch-Bages: The Bordeaux estate shines in a tasting back to the 1929, Wine Spectator, 15 November 2007).

During the 1980s Jean-Michel Cazes secured the worldwide reputation of the estate by travelling abroad to promote the wines. Today, the 222 acre estate is run by Jean Michel’s son, Jean-Charles, … Read the rest