From Cru de Lynch to Lynch-Bages
The history of Lynch-Bages, situated in the lands of "Batges" at the entrance to Pauillac, is emblematic of the Médoc region.
Thomas Lynch and the ''Cru de Lynch''
Although there are records of the Bages territory as far back as the 16th century, the history of wine production in the area really began in the 18th century. From 1749 to 1824, the vineyard was owned by Thomas Lynch, the son of an Irishman from Galway who worked as a merchant in Bordeaux. Thomas Lynch managed the land wisely and produced high quality wines under the name of ''Cru de Lynch''. As part of the prestigious 1855 Classification, for the Exposition Universelle de Paris, his wine would soon be classified as one of the fifth growths.
''Lou Janou'', the Montagnol
Later on, Jean ''Lou Janou'' Cazes, a ''Montagnol'' (a term used to describe farmers from the austere upper valleys of Ariège), came to the Médoc to earn a living. In the 1930's, General Félix de Vial, a descendant of the Cayrou family, leased the vineyard to Jean-Charles Cazes, the son of ''Lou Janou'' and a farmer at Château Ormes de Pez in Saint-Estèphe. Cazes went on to purchase both properties in the wake of World War II. Lynch-Bages has been run by the Cazes family ever since.
The old vat-house and its testimony to the past
Lynch-Bages' old vat-house represents a rare example of traditional winemaking equipment the Médoc area. Its slatted flooring which introduced the advantages of gravitational design now used in modern vat-houses, was invented by Skawinski in 1850.
The extraordinary hard work of the winemakers
Back then, grapes were transported in a cart pulled by horses and then being lifted by crane and emptied into a wooden tank on wheels and tracks. One or two winemakers inside the tank then crushed the grapes, making the juice flow out through openings into vats on either side. A rope-pulley-bucket system and no less than six workers were then required to remove the leftover grape skins from the fermentation vat.
These remarkable winemakers had a hard and quite dangerous job. The last of them was the exemplary Xavier Tibur, who ended his career at Lynch-Bages in 1975. The old Lynch-Bages vat-house is open for visits and will transport you to another era.