Thursday, December 9, 2021

Haut-Bages-Averous Pauillac 1989

Haut-Bages-Averous Pauillac 1989

With quiet dinner of left over beef stroganoff from last night, I pulled from the cellar this aged vintage Bordeaux, the second label of Chateau Lynch-Bages. We planned a tour of the Lynch Bages estate in Pauillac in Bordeaux during our trip to the region in 2019. Lynch Bages were kind enough to respond promptly and regretably informed us that the estate was under construction, but kindly offered a tour of their second tier Les-Ormes-de-Pez estate in St. Estephe. Not knowing the area and the distances and logistics, we ended up not scheduling the tour and visit and focused solely on the St Julien appellation

Never-the-less, we did end up driving up to and around Pauillac and stopped at the Lynch Bages estate, which was indeed, under substantial construction.

We also drove north to St Estephe and stopped at the Les-Ormes-de-Pez estate in St. Estephe, immediately across the road from the magnificent, historic Cos d'Estournel. 

We also drove around the Lynch Bages vineyards, source of the premier grand vin as well as this secondary label. 

Lynch Bages has a long history in Bordeaux, named for the geographic area where the chateau is located in Bages on the outskirts of the village of Pauillac. 

The vineyards of what was to become Lynch Bages were established by the Dejean family dating back to 1728.

In 1877, Jean-Charles Cazes, was born to Lou Janou Cazes and his wife Angelique in the town of Pauillac. The Cazes family had a long history in Bordeaux dating back to the second half of the nineteenth century. In the 1930’s, Jean-Charles Cazes, was in charge of Les-Ormes-de-Pez in St. Estephe and agreed to lease the vines of Lynch Bages. Jean-Charles Cazes eventually purchased both properties on the eve of the Second World War. Lynch Bages and Les-Ormes-de-Pez have been run by the Cazes family ever since. 

In the early 1970's, they increased their vineyards with the purchase of land from Haut-Bages Averous. By the late 1990’s their holdings had expanded to almost 240 acres. 

In 1987, Jean-Michel Cazes sold the properties to and joined the large French insurance company AXA, who built an extensive investment portfolio of quality vineyards in the Medoc of Bordeaux, Pomerol, Sauternes, Portugal and Hungary. Cazes was named director of the wine division of the extensive portfolio of wine estates including Lynch Bages of which he he took on managing director in 2006.

Chateau Lynch Bages began a massive renovation and modernization in 2017, focused on the winemaking, and technical facilities. This construction was underway when we visited in 2018. The major project, was headed by noted architects Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, the sons of the famous architect who designed the glass pyramid for the Louvre in Paris as well as several other important buildings.

The project included grape, reception center, gravity-flow wine cellar and vat rooms housing 80 stainless steel vinification vats. The extensive project was completed in 2021. The new cellars feature a glass roof, terraces with 360-degree views, and completely modernized reception areas and offices. 

The vineyards of Lynch Bages spanning 240 acres, are planted to 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The vineyard has a terroir of gravel, chalk, and sand soils. The vineyards lie around the outskirts of the village of Pauillac, sitting on the Gironde River.

The average age of the vines is about 30 years old but they have old vines, some of which are close to 90 years old.

We hold a dozen vintages of the grand vin Lynch Bages, and a half dozen vintages of this second label dating back to the mid-eighties, including this aged vintage 1989 release. 

This is the second label of the legendary Lynch Bages. It was renamed Echo de Lynch-Bages in 2008. As the second wine, it is subjected to the same exceptional winemaking as its 'big brother,' is sourced from the same vineyards with the same terroir, albeit from the younger vines. 

The second wine is known to be approachable when young, but is capable of gaining layers of nuance and complexity as it ages. It is capable to age for decades or more as this bottle attests. 

This bottle has been held in our cellar since release and showed perfect storage with the fill level, label, capsule and cork all in remarkably perfect condition given its age of 32 years. It showed remarkable color, body, fruit and balance with very little diminution from aging.

Dark blackish garnet colored, medium to full-bodied, black berry fruits accented by smoke, damp earth, leather, floral violets, cassis, spice, oak and graphite on a lingering tangy acidic tannic laden finish. 

RM 90 points.