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, who also runs an extensive portfolio of wineries across France and abroad.

Typically cabernet sauvignon dominates the blend with just enough merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot to provide the structure,.. [Read More]