Stephen Bolger, Yin Zheng,Juliette Binoche, Xu Zheng
If you had to write a synopsis for January 3rd, it would include fun, sharing and a wonderful atmosphere. That day, the Lynch-Bages vineyard, the VINIV cellars and the harvest room were transformed into a life-size film set for the Chinese entertainment show “Lost in Food”.
An unusual setting for an exceptional cast: our ambassador of French culture, Juliette Binoche played opposite Yin Zheng and Xu Zheng, two very famous actors in China.
The Cazes family, VINIV CEO Stephen Bolger and our team of wine specialists also took up the filming challenge. These amateur, but no less talented actors accompanied the three celebrities in a series of difficult challenges on the theme of wine. Following instructions given by Juliette Binoche, Xu Zhen and Yin Zheng had to try their hand at blending, do some highly technical vine pruning and pass the difficult test of pronouncing names of varietals.
The day ended with a final gratifying snap of the clapperboard. The leading and supporting roles then came together around a festive meal, to discover more of our Bordeaux heritage. They enjoyed spit-roasted Pauillac lamb prepared by Yves Bruneau, accompanied by a jeroboam of Lynch-Bages 2008 and a few bottles of Ormes de Pez. A fine end to a unique encounter fusing French know-how and Chinese culture.
This special Lynch-Bages episode of “Lost in Food” was aired on 18 February on Zhejiang TV, one of the most important channels in the Middle Kingdom.
Architect Chien Chung Pei with the Cazes family and a group of journalists
Owned by the Cazes family since 1939, Château Lynch-Bages will embark on a new chapter in its history early 2017 with the renovation of its wine-making facilities. American architect Chien Chung Pei has been placed in charge of the project.
"For several years now, our team of specialists has concentrated on the substantive work needed to improve our knowledge of the Lynch-Bages vineyard, studying its soils, introducing mass selection, analysing plots, and so on. This project aimed at renovating the estate’s technical facilities now marks the next logical step," says Jean-Charles Cazes who has managed the family owned group since 2006.
Technical improvements in these new facilities will centre on three areas: a vast area dedicated to receiving the harvest; the fermentation cellar, allowing a more precise vinification of individual parcels in 80 stainless steel vats; and finally a large cellar, capable of accommodating two vintages at once, hence increasing the duration of wine maturation. Work is expected to last two and a half years.
The project will bring its fair share of innovation, while respecting Lynch-Bages’ history. Gravity flow winemaking will be a key process in the new facilities, as a nod to the estate’s historic fermentation cellar designed by Skawinski in the 19th century, which will also have its proper place amidst the future buildings.
Chien Chung Pei
Chien Chung Pei was the obvious choice when it came to appointing an architect. "First, because he’s had ties with my family for years. He met my father for the first time in 1986 when working with his own, Ieoh Ming Pei, on the Louvre pyramid project in Paris. I like the idea of handing down through generations, not only in his history but also our own. He shares our philosophy of embracing the outside world, he has a dual culture and an excellent understanding of our country. He’s also a wine enthusiast, and therefore understands the technical and functional challenges such a project raises for our estate."
Chien Chung Pei is known for his many achievements worldwide (China, Hong Kong, United States, Brazil, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, etc.), and in particular for the Guanajuato State Library in León, Mexico, the Museum of Islamic Art Park in Doha, and the Six Dynasties Museum in China.
He will work in collaboration with Atelier BPM, selected as prime contractor for the project, and an agency that has already completed numerous vineyard projects in and around Bordeaux.
An architectural feat
"Light and transparency are two strong influences that will guide the architects working on the project. “Another reason why we chose Chien Chung Pei is because we are great fans of his sleek architectural style, with its contemporary lines and perfectly sober form." says Jean-Charles Cazes
He will work in collaboration with Atelier BPM, selected as prime contractor for the project, and an agency that has already completed numerous vineyard projects in and around Bordeaux.
From 1 January 2017 and throughout the renovation of our Lynch-Bages technical facilities, we will be offering visitors a new range of visits and activities.
While waiting for the new facilities at the heart of Bages village to be completed, we’ll be setting off to Saint-Estephe to visit Château Ormes de Pez. An ideal opportunity for those wanting to know more about this estate, which has stood proudly in the Médoc vineyard landscape since the 18th century and in recent years developed a closer relationship with Château Lynch-Bages.
Here, as in Pauillac, the Cazes family has made the site more attractive to visitors, transforming the elegant residence into a charming guest house. Its bedrooms overlook the park and a fascinating walnut tree stretched out over the grass, still very much alive. Having survived the storms at the end of the last century, this hundred-year-old tree sits in place of the old elm trees that gave the Château its name. It lives on, horizontally, amidst a vertical landscape. Low stone walls extend from the home alongside the outbuildings and cellars, becoming one with the estate’s 40 hectares of vines. At Ormes de Pez, each season has its own colour palette. All the conditions are met for creating fine wines, and for enjoying a memorable holiday.
Lynch-Bages Trainees Angélique Michaud and Carlo Cuomo, flanked by Nicolas Labenne and Laëtitia Rameau
The opening of the DNO (National Oenology Diploma) promotion took place at the Palais de la Bourse in Bordeaux on 4 July.
The opening of the ISVV (Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences) DNO promotion was held on Monday, 4 July, at the Palais de la Bourse in Bordeaux. The event was organised by the Association des Œnologues de Bordeaux (the Bordeaux oenologist association), which comprises all the past DNO graduates from the Bordeaux college since 1957.
A wonderful evening attended by two 2015 Lynch-Bages trainees under technical director Nicolas Labenne: Angélique Michot, who worked for 6 months on the theme "souche de levure indigène" (indigenous yeast strain), which she tested on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety; and Carlo Cuomo with his study on the Lynch-Bages whites and the evolution of aging aromas and trials on fermentation temperatures and turbidity, aimed at improving typicity.
During the event, Carlo also received a special prize for his course report.
Carlo Cuomo gets a special prize for his course report during the opening of the DNO promotion
Following in the tradition of trainees hosted at Pauillac, Angélique and Carlo came on 30 March this year to present the findings of their experiments to the team at the château. A very informative presentation outlining new avenues to explore in the years to come.
Hats off to everyone involved in the 2015 promotion of Bordeaux oenologists!
Over 25 years of flying with Cathay Pacific!
The Cathay Pacific airline currently serves Lynch-Bages 2004 to first-class passengers on its flights between Hong Kong and London. An iconic entente that was launched in 1989……
Jean-Michel Cazes and the Cathay Pacific team, Hong Kong, May 2006
Cathay Pacific had at that time decided to focus on great wines as a means of attracting international businessmen onto its international flights between Europe and the large cities of South-East Asia, which was then undergoing rapid economic growth.
In order to stand out from the crowd, the airline company wanted its in-flight wines to be a respectable age. Its aim was to go on to establish a significant stock of bottled wines covering several vintages.
A Lynch-Bages vertical in the Cathay stocks
Following months of talks, an agreement was reached whereby the airline would purchase bottles of Château Lynch-Bages covering 10 vintages: from 1980 to 1989. The transaction was facilitated accordingly through the financial services of AXA, the Banque Française du Commerce Extérieur and the intervention of an experienced Bordeaux négociant. Cathay Pacific had a few stipulations of its own: in particular, that its stock should be isolated in the Lynch-Bages cellars and periodically checked. The notary in Pauillac was responsible for this task of monitoring the “Cathay stocks”.
Flight comparisons: the "Lynch-Bages arbitrage"
The first delivery – the Lynch-Bages 1980 – was made in 1990. Consignments then followed on as and when requested by the company. Confidence gradually grew and the notary became superfluous after a few years. Friendly relations were even struck up with the successive CEOs, who were great lovers of the Lynch-Bages wines. On several occasions, Jean-Michel Cazes and Jean-Charles Cazes provided on-site training for the cabin crews, who were mostly unfamiliar with the culture of wine. Passengers passed the word around and Cathay Pacific planes were used by ever-increasing numbers of Lynch-Bages enthusiasts.
It was even said that certain regular fliers on the London-Hong Kong route used to compensate for the relatively high Cathay Pacific airfares with the Lynch-Bages consumed during the 12-hour flight… A subtle calculation known as the “Lynch-Bages arbitrage”.
Based in all of the large South-East Asian airports, Cathay Pacific has been a great help to Château Lynch-Bages in breaking into the markets in that region, starting with mainland China. For its part, Lynch-Bages is proud to have helped establish the quality of the company’s in-flight service at a level that is recognised worldwide.
At the Ban du Millésime dinner on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 at the Palais de la Bourse in Bordeaux, the Commanderie du Bontemps played host to nearly 600 guests. Besides the Bordeaux merchants there that evening to celebrate the 2015 vintage, were great wine lovers, journalists from the national and international press, and buyers from the world over.
Initiated by and for the wine-selling members of the Confrérie and organised in conjunction with the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, the Ban du Millésime is a gathering of the greatest Bordeaux wine merchants, who invite their clients and friends for the evening. Several estates get together with them to present the new vintage to the national and international press during a dinner that was held this year for the first time in the Palais de la Bourse.
It was a full house for the release of the 2015 vintage. “Some of the buyers present had not attended since 2009-2010”, explained the Grand Maître, Emmanuel Cruse. Before a captivated audience, Emmanuel Cruse presented “a great vintage, with tremendous purity and perfect elegance”. So, despite a difficult economic climate, Bordeaux has reasserted its leadership. Francis Boutemy, president of the Grand Cercle Rive Gauche, confirmed the interest in the 2015 vintage. “The Asian and American importers are here and showing their satisfaction”.
Emmanuel Cruse, Grand Master of the Commanderie du Bontemps
“The best vintage for a long time”
Everybody was impressed with the 2015 vintage. But today, everyone wanted to form their own opinion, to confer with the château owners and the negociants. So, for Dany Pocho, who had come from neighbouring Switzerland, “There are some stunning masterpieces. This is a vintage with natural richness… You’d have to be a great winemaker to make the vintage both harmonious and balanced. That is the key.” For Dai Sheng, who had come from Wuhan in China, “Fantastic, this is the best vintage for a long time!”
Guests arriving for the Ban du Millésime dinner in the Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux
The Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc et des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac
The Commanderie du Bontemps is a winemakers’ brotherhood. And not just any old one! With its 315 members, it is one of the oldest and most important in France, celebrating wine, and perpetuating everything connected with wine, its values and its spirit, with friendship, geniality and fidelity to the terroir. As a matter of interest, before becoming the emblem of the Commanderie, the “Bontemps” was a recipient used by the cellar master for beating the eggs used for fining and clarifying the wine.
The story began in the late 11th century when Duke William of Normandy, better known as William the Conqueror, was crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey. Meanwhile, some descendants of his companions-in-arms continued their journey westwards, crossing the sea and landing in Ireland.
True to their reputation, they ransacked the country, stopping only when they reached the ocean. There they built the fortified city of Galway, from whence they successfully drove back the native Gaelic natives, the "terrible O’Hara".
The fourteen tribes of Galway
Their descendants, the Galway Tribes, les "Tribus de Galway" - as Cromwell so disdainfully called them - became prosperous merchants who dominated life in the city throughout the Middle Ages. There were fourteen families in all, names among others Kirwan, French, d'Arcy, Martin and Joyce. The most well-known name was Lynch, borne by many of the city's mayors and allegedly acquired from an Austrian family with ties to Charlemagne.
Flight of the Wild Geese
During the Jacobite wars in the 17th century, the Galway tribes naturally sided with Catholic King James II, from whom the protestant William of Orange was trying to wrest the English throne. Crushed at the battle of the Boyne in 1690, thousands of young Irish catholics had no choice but to flee abroad. Hence the "wild geese" took flight and were scattered across the world.
Ernesto Guevara Lynch The Lynch family fled to Argentina where Jean-Michel Cazes met one of their descendants, today a wine grower in Mendoza. His cousin, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, born in Rosario in 1928, had long hair, a beard and wore a beret. More commonly known by his nickname "Che", his fame reached well beyond his home country. "In my son's veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels", said his father.
In 1961, John Lynch moved to the Chartrons district of Bordeaux, where he fast became a wealthy merchant. He applied for and obtained French nationality, and married a local beauty called Guillemette Constant. A child, Thomas Lynch, was born of their union. Thomas subsequently married Bordeaux aristocrat Elisabeth, daughter of Pierre Drouillard, who was Treasurer General of Guyenne and owned several large wine-growing estates. Their sons, Jean-Baptiste and Michel, both had shining careers. Jean-Baptiste was Mayor of Bordeaux from 1805 to 1819, while Michel Lynch was Mayor of Pauillac and a member of the Council of Five Hundred, the lower house of the legislature under the Directoire.
The Lynch family's loyalty to the crown
Jean-Baptiste was appointed by Emperor Napoleon and served him faithfully... for a few years. In 1814, encouraged by Bordeaux's merchant community - which had grown weary of the economic consequences of war - he became the first magistrate of a French city to take the plunge and swear allegiance to King Louis XVIII.
The grateful new king promoted Lynch to the rank of Pair de France and granted the title of Duke of Bordeaux to Henry, the grandson of his brother, the future Charles X, who was to abdicate the throne in favour of Henry in 1830. The ten-year old Henri V of Artois, Count of Chambord, reigned briefly until he was overthrown by the partisans of Louis-Philippe of Orleans. The Duke of Bordeaux spent his entire life in exile, wandering around Europe from country to country. In 1851, he finally settled at Frohsdorf Castle in Austria where, in memory of his loyal partisans, he was known to entertain his guests with wine from Lynch-Bages.
The fleur-de-lis on the Chateau Lynch-Bages label symbolises the Lynch family's royalist faith and its allegiance to the throne.
This year, the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations will take place in Bages on 17 March. They will kick off at 11:30 with a "Portrait" tour (in French or English) of Chateau Lynch-Bages, which belonged to the Lynch family from 1749 to 1824. The visit will end with a tasting of some of the estate's finest wines. Saint-Patrick's Day lunches will be served at both Château Cordeillan-Bages and Café Lavinal.
Between January 18th and 22nd, Italian experts Massimo Giudici and Tommaso Martignon, from Simonit & Sirch have been introducing “gentle pruning” methods at Lynch-Bages in order to protect our most precious asset: the vineyard.
During the vine’s dormant time, pruning is the biggest winter job. At Lynch-Bages, the vineyard workers have started pruning on November 19th and will finish around mid-March.
This season, technical director Nicolas Labenne has entrusted the experts at Simonit & Sirch for the training and tutoring of the vineyard workers. Massimo Giudici and Tommaso come regularly to Lynch-Bages to provide tailored tutoring to each worker.
When asked why he chose to collaborate with Simonit & Sirch as consultants, Nicolas Labenne explained: "They have reestablished a method described by Poussard (Guyot-Poussard) at the start of the 20th century, which respects the sap flow of the vine. This technique avoids the serious consequences of pruning cuts, and works against the deterioration of the vineyards. It is a very good response to the serious vine disease Esca that can enter the vine through the cuts left behind by pruning"
Pruning is performed to extend vine life: reducing the impact that cuts have on the sap system of the plant and protecting the health of the vineyard. When training the pruning teams, Massimo and Tommaso work on young vineyards as well as on undamaged adult ones. They will be sharing their approach until budburst season at Lynch-Bages.
Jean-Charles Cazes hosts a Decanter Masterclass in Shanghai.
Invited by Decanter magazine, Bordeaux lovers in Shanghai converged on the Ritz-Carlton Pudong on 28 November 2015 to taste a few Château Lynch-Bages and Ormes de Pez vintages. After a general presentation of the wines from Domaines Jean-Michel Cazes, Jean-Charles Cazes dwelled for a while on the Saint-Estèphe property and Château Ormes de Pez 2010 vintage. He invited the wine enthusiasts to appreciate the Cabernet Sauvignon’s exceptional maturity and compared it with the 2005 vintage, which displayed “similar levels of acidity, but less tannin and slightly less alcohol”.
Following this introduction, the audience headed for Pauillac, the “kingdom of Cabernet Sauvignon”, he then traced the history of the town and its vineyards, particularly Michel Lynch’s role as mayor during the French Revolution.
"The 2000 vintage is one of the greatest vintages produced at Lynch-Bages. It has attained a perfect balance, which is still developing in the bottle."
Château Lynch-Bages 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 were tasted and discussed in detail. The 2005 was found to be a “perfectly balanced vintage, marked by freshness, liveliness of acidity and decent alcohol”. The 2009 and 2010 vintages are very different in the mouth but equally powerful.
Lynch-Bages, an opera perfomer?
Jean-Charles Cazes slipped a surprise into his slide presentation. For the record, Lynch-Bages is known as “Lan Chi Pat” in China, a name that just happened to belong to a famous 20th century Cantonese opera singer. It has a lovely ring to it!
Thank you to Decanter and to all the Bordeaux lovers in Shanghai for taking part in this memorable masterclass!
The technical team headed by Nicolas Labenne has four new members: Angélique, Zoe, Carlo and Alexis. Some have arrived from other regions in France, others from as far afield as Italy and China, but all are currently receiving training of between six months and three years at Château Lynch-Bages, immersing themselves in the life of a Grand Cru and working on cutting-edge innovations. Each has their own story.
Angélique from the Auvergne in France, and Carlo, from Taurasi near Naples in Italy, are both students at the ISVV (Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences) in Bordeaux, where they are preparing their national diploma in oenology (DNO). After arriving at Château Lynch-Bages in June 2015, they tried their hand at viticulture until August. They will now spend the next few months, until December, getting to grips with their future profession: oenology.
Alexis, a BTS student at EVO (La Tour Blanche School of Viticulture and Oenology) in Bommes, in Gironde, will work with the team part-time for three years. He specialises in precision viticulture, and in particular geolocation (see our Geolocated fertilisation, a precision viticulture technique" article).
"Care must be taken when choosing the focus of the training," says Nicolas. "We get together at the beginning with the students and their tutor to choose a focus according to not only study programmes but also technical challenges, innovation ideas and the means needed to implement them".
Carlo chose to devote his time to the vinification of white grapes, studying both the influence of turbidity* on aromatic typicity and how temperature influences fermentation in barrels. Angélique is studying the potential of a native yeast strain.
Regarding the whites, Carlo and his training supervisor have set clear objectives: to improve aromatic expression and prevent premature ageing in bottles. As for the reds, and more specifically Cabernet Sauvignon, the aim is to achieve greater typicity, greater local character. For this last research topic, headed by Angélique, the technical team has created replicas, with small stainless steel vats at Lynch-Bages and Château Ormes de Pez. "ISVV is also providing analytical support, with the help of professors" , says technical director Nicolas Labenne.
* the matter content of a fluid, which makes it cloudy, and its ability to disseminate or absorb incident light.
Presenting their work to the team
Trainees at Lynch-Bages become full-fledged members of the team, involved in all aspects of our work. "They are also faced with decision-making", says Nicolas, who entrusts the trainees with tasks that "allow us to move forward."
At the end of their training, the students prepare a thesis detailing their experiments that they must present orally. Nicolas is a member of the jury, -"although not for our interns", he says. This oral presentation does not mark the end of the experience, however. "I always ask them to come back and see us, to present their thesis again like they did to get their diploma, but this time to all the team members they worked with. It’s always a friendly and informative moment!"
Based on the work of Angélique, Zoe, Carlo, Alexis, as well as Geoffrey from the Champagne region and Lisa from Denmark before them, we can safely say that the Lynch-Bages 2015 vintage of trainees holds great promise. Next year, Nicolas Labenne and his technical team will again welcome between four and six new enthusiasts, and they will mature together.
What they think of their training
Alexis: "My parents work the vine and I’ve had a passion for it since I was young. I was taught that every great wine is the result of hard work carried out as a family. Today, at Château Lynch-Bages, I’ve rediscovered this family spirit, which I think is important in my job."
Angélique:"I’m glad I chose Château Lynch-Bages for my training because I’m learning to make great wine with a fantastic team possessing the know-how and educational skills needed to ensure we always feel at home."
Zoe: "How to express my feeling about Château Lynch-Bages? I have to say, everytime when I stand on the road with trees which is in front of the chateau, it's breezing, the words in my mind are: "sans toi les émotions d'aujourd'hui ne seraient que la peau morte des émotions d'autrefois." My experience here is absolutely unforgettable and amazing! »*In reference to the film The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain. You can see the scene in French below:
Carlo: "This experience has given me an all-round view of the production process and helped me fully understand the philosophy and elegance of this great Pauillac. Thanks to the technical team’s responsiveness, to their advice and explanations, I now fully understand all the work that goes into a fine bottle of wine. All this in the company of friendly and open-minded people. I couldn’t have hoped for better!"