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The much-cited "little man" cannot be too small - at least not financially weak. A bottle of Lynch-Bages costs at least 35 euro, even in the subscription with average years. In the high price year 2000, it was even three times as much, and older vintages can hardly be bought for less than 100 euro.

These prices are also far above what the equally often quoted "average wine drinker" spends for a bottle of wine even on the highest festive and jubilant days.

The wine estate in Pauillac

In addition, "Lynch-Bages" was relegated to the last row of the 61 recorded wines in the immovable classification of 1855 as 5ème, far away from the first league, to which Mouton Rothschild also belongs. Against the three big calibers among the Pauillac comrades - Mouton and Lafite-Rothschild as well as Latour - Lynch-Bages is without a chance!

No chance? I wanted to know exactly and travelled from Zurich to Cologne over the weekend to a Lynch-Bages vertical organised by Dominik (known in the forum as Reblaus) to finally do the acid test. But before that I have to confess: Tastings in the "vertical" are an "anathema" to me. All too often in my life I have climbed mountains vertically, up metre after metre, always to higher still, only to find at the top: it is the horizontal (the vastness) that ultimately counts. It is only slightly dependent on the height climbed.

The Cologne tasting round

Whether I climbed 2, 3 or even 4,000 meters, the ego was happy to register it as an achievement, but the enjoyment hardly changed if it was a few meters more or less. Only the effort required brought something like satisfaction.

In the "wine vertical" (i.e., tasting many vintages from the same winery), one's effort is omitted. It's all about the meters and centimeters of real or imagined pleasure size here. But there - I have to admit it - the calibration fails on my wine enjoyment measuring stick.

Nevertheless, it was worthwhile to test the Lynch-Bages a little more closely. If only to note: Lynch-Bages is an excellent wine, even in weaker Bordeaux years.

Apart from the quality, the history of the winery certainly contributes to its popularity, above all the "legends" associated with it.

Lynch-Bages brought to the line

It starts with the château name: Thomas Lynch, who gave the estate its name, was the son of an Irish immigrant; Bages, on the other hand, is a small hilltop plateau in the middle of Pauillac. So how do you pronounce the name "Lynch-Bages"? After all the contradictory statements and claims, I was only able to resolve the battle over the correct pronunciation when I went to the winery to inquire in person. Lynch-Bages is clearly called "Läänsch-Basch", only the foreigners are allowed to use the English "Linsch-Basch", after all, it's all about good business. The identity of the name plays a subordinate role.

In general, the winery knows how to present itself excellently. Since the Cazes family purchased the wine estate in 1937, there have been many amusing anecdotes about the château and its owners. René Gabriel tells one of them in his book "Bordeaux Total". Jean-Charles Cazes, the grandfather of today's "château lord", is said to have been an original. During covert wine tastings among vintner friends, he had filled his own wines into darker bottles in order to be able to recognize them for sure. When it was his wine's turn, he would say with rapture, "...this must be the Mouton-Rothschild. It's so perfect, so big, and so sublime. For once in my life, I want to be able to make wines this great!" And when later the bottles were uncovered, he was highly astonished: "....never would I have thought that my wine - next to such famous Châteaux - could hold its own so well." Since then, Lynch-Bages has been the "Mouton of the little man".

Dominik% vulgo Reblaus% with the critical tasters

Now the question remains after the extensive Lynch-Bages vertical with 21 vintages - from 1978 to 2003: Does it confirm what can be read in the literature about the highest praise and what the scores say in points? I can confirm it: Lynch-Bages comes in some years easily to the Mouton-Rothschild, even leaves this high-priced wine often effortlessly behind. Whether the 2000 is really the very best Lynch-Bages of the last 20 years, or whether the matured 89 will one day - at the same age - outdo the still young, full-bodied wine of the century; whether the 96 really has the potential of a "great wine", or just "deserves" 85 points, which it received from a taster; whether the 97 is jammy, as Parker thinks, or has the "cheerful fruit presence", which René Gabriel has reconnoitred, all this is registered and discussed on a vertical.

In the end, however, it is irrelevant when enjoying so many good wines. I don't need a Mouton, I'm simply satisfied that I'm just a "little man".


Peter (Züllig)

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