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Lynch Bages & Cordeillan-Bages – Meeting an old friend I had never met before…

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The Château Lynch Bages has long been like an old friend to me. Their wine was one of the main reasons I started to collect Bordeaux wine many years ago. I have a tradition of opening a bottle of Lynch Bages when friends are around. After these evenings, I label the empty bottle with the date and with whom I drank the wine and keep it in my collection. That way, each bottle is connected to one specific evening and memory. Needless to say, I was very excited when I arranged with Tristane de La Presle (Director of Sales and Marketing) a visit to Relais & Châteaux and its restaurant, Cordeillan-Bages, that holds two Michelin Stars.
 
article Entrance by night
(Entrance of Chateau and Relais & Châteaux restaurant Cordeillan-Bages)
 
The château – which is also a hotel – is a carefully renovated and well-looked after estate combining rich history and tradition with art and modern interior styles. All rooms are decorated in a different elegant style that represents a link between wine and art (Jean-Michel Cazes – the owner of the château has a wonderful collection of art on display and stages an exhibition featuring an artist each year), which is continued in the ambiance of the restaurant where I met two Michelin starred Chef Jean-Luc Rocha.
 
article Chef JL Rocha - Chateau Cordeillan Bages
(Two Michelin Starred Chef Jean-Luc Rocha and
Founder of the World Gourmet Society Matthias Tesi Baur)
 
Chef Jean-Luc talked me through the preparation process of his signature fois gras dish, which was an interesting combination of pan-fried fois gras covered with a poppy and sesame topping then plated with apricot mousse, pickled Chinese mushrooms, and a mango sorbet – a very interesting taste combination I didn’t expect. 
 
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He explained that he understands his profession as a combination of the respect for local and seasonal products with the art of creating hand crafted dishes. Originally, Jean-Luc came from the Alsace region, which is not too far away from the region on the German side of the border where I grew up. His cooking inspiration came from his grandmother, who played an important role in his early life, as well as from his father, who was a wood carver and who taught him that working with one’s hands to create new things can be a gift.
 
For the starter dish, he prepared a well-balanced, semi-soft salmon with basil vinaigrette paired with the white wine of Lynch Bages, which was a new discovery for me. The pairing of the main course was a poultry filet in an herbal crust served with snails and complemented by a 2008 Lynch Bages.
 
Asking Arnaud Le Saux – the head sommelier – what the best years of Lynch Bages have been he said “of course there is a few exceptional vintages like 2005 or 2009 for their quality and aging potential (due to the very special weather, a good balance between sun and rain) . But they are not the best to enjoy today. For me and at the restaurant I would rather drink or propose a 2001 or 2003 which are perfectly ready now.” 
Getting more curious I asked Arnaud to explain me more about the character of Lynch Bages white wine and he explained that “dry white Bordeaux from Lynch Bages is made of 20 % muscadelle, 52 % de sauvignon et 28 % de sémillon. The wine has vibrant, lively citrus and grapefruit flavours that jump out of the glass. Round on the palate and crisp on the finish, a wine that is better drinking quite young. The wine is all fermented in oak with half in new oak. The story of this wine started with a small production of white wine made only for the family and friends, that become very popular and today it’s about 15000 bottles produced.”
 
Finally I asked Arnaud to complete the sentence: “A good wine is…” for me and his answer was “that a good wine is a wine that you share with friends and family and that you can drink again and again without getting tired of it…. you just want to have another sip.”
 
article Blue lobster baby-vegetable risotto coral cappuccino
(Blue lobster, baby-vegetable risotto, coral cappuccino)
 
The Relais & Châteaux restaurant, Cordeillan-Bages, is definitely a “must visit” destination for every gourmand who wants to enrich the experience of a Grand Cru Bordeaux with excellence and hand-crafted haute cuisine!
 
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(The Relais & Châteaux restaurant Cordeillan-Bages)
 
After lunch, we passed through the small village of Bages to the sister Château Lynch Bages to join a private tour through the Château. Lynch Bages starts blending the grapes before the wine can age in the medium-toasted oak barrels. The Château changed its equipment, tanks, and procedures substantially in the 70’s, which has given Lynch Bages consistently high quality wine throughout the years. Another detail that was new to me is that Lynch Bages offers individuals the opportunity to buy a barrel and blend the wine after aging to create their very own wine.
 
Summarizing the day, I can say that I learned a lot about my “old friend” Lynch Bages during my visit. I know that I will appreciate opening a Lynch Bages bottle even more now that I know the people that stand behind that great wine.
 
Matthias Tesi Baur

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