1988 Lynch Bages
Wine Spectator | 95 WS
Wine Spectator | 95 WS
One of the big surprises is how delicious this wine has turned out. It is a beautiful, classic claret. Dark ruby-colored with purple hues, it reveals aromas of dried herbs, smoke, leather, grilled meats, and copious black cherry and currant fruit. Medium-bodied, powerful, rich, and surprisingly evolved, this vintage has hit its plateau of maturity, where it should remain for another 10-12 years.
Robert Parker | 92 RP
The 1988 Lynch Bages is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot and 11% Cabernet Franc, plus 2% Petit Verdot that was picked at the beginning of October. It has a clean fresh bouquet with ample pure blackberry and raspberry notes, touches of graphite and tobacco, vibrant and very satisfying. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, crisp acidity, a little meatiness and cedar creeping in towards the finish and long and fresh from start to finish. This is a fine Lynch Bages from a period when Jean-Michel Cazes seemed to do no wrong. This would be one of my picks from the vintage given its market price. Tasted at the château.
Vinous Media | 91 VM
Wine Details for 1988 Lynch Bages
|Type of Wine||
: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Red Bordeaux Blend
: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.
Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.
For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.
The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Chateau Lynch Bages
: When a French chateau makes wine, great wine, there is often a coinciding story about the family history, the grape varietals, the terroir and often the winemaker. At Chateau Lynch Bages where there is a long history of success in the Left Bank of the Medoc and perhaps the greatest terroir and growing appellation of Pauillac, there is also a story of how every facet of winegrowing and winemaking come full circle in meticulous fashion.
At Lynch Bages nearly every step of the process is closely monitored under expert tutelage. Key stages take place in the vineyard with Vineyard Manager, Franck Debrais and his team where the vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are planted and harvested across 100 hectares. The vines are tended to with the utmost care and attention.
In addition to Debrais’ expert direction, Nicolas Labenne, technical manager of winemaking and growing for Lynch Bages with a team of 35 professionals is involved in daily monitoring and inspections of the vineyard. The structuring of the vineyards has undergone impressive improvements since 2006 with the use of satellite technology. Surveys on soil quality have also greatly ensured the genetic winemaking heritage at the chateau. These two incredible developments have allowed the precise mapping and restructuring of vine parcels in order to preserve, enhance and develop the specific nature of each terroir.
The terroir, which is home to three of the four Medoc Premier Grand Cru wines, needs no sugar-coating. As wine expert, writer and author of the World Atlas of Wine, Hugh Johnson states, “If we had to classify Bordeaux communes, Pauillac would certainly come out on top.” Lynch Bages enjoys the appellation’s mild climate and a topography of well-defined outcroppings in the heart of the Medoc on the banks of the estuary of Gironde.
The grape varietals which flourish in the grand terroir of Pauillac are carefully harvested and vinified by hand according to varietal, ripeness levels and soil structure. The aim is to construct individual personalities for each parcel. A true reflection of the Lynch Bages’ terroir is reflected in the wine, itself. Blending takes place in December when a panel of experts oversees the complex composition of fine wine which can vary drastically depending on each parcels’ behavior in relation to the climactic condition of each vintage.
From planting to barreling, to ageing, Lynch Bages has implemented a series of measures that have had an overwhelming effect on the success of the wine. The chateau has taken drastic steps to reducing the impact of winemaking on the environment and the combination of technological advancements and tedious human instinct and efforts have reinforced Lynch Bages’ commitment to excellence and upholding the legacy of Pauillac’s grand reputation and natural landscape.