I just heard word from Jean-Michel Cazes, the patriarch of the family who owns Bordeaux’s Lynch-Bages among others, that he has decided to pass the reins of his wine operation to his 32-year-old son, Jean-Charles. It’s sad to see Jean-Michel do this in a way but at the same time, I think it is justified and exciting that he has done so, especially to the young new generation at a relatively early stage.
Over the years of covering the wine trade, I have seen too many old generations who wait too long or even never pass along the reins of their wine operations. And eventually, the wines suffer in quality. Things have to evolve. That’s life.
I spoke to Jean-Charles during a vertical tasting of Lynch-Bages in Los Angeles in May, and he was super keen to take on his new position. (They wanted to wait to say anything until after the harvest.) I think that you might even see Lynch-Bages make even better wines, although it has been making excellent wines for decades as the tasting illustrated. I think the Golden Age for Lynch was the 1980s under the helm of his father. Stay tuned for a column on the tasting in the magazine.
Lynch has always represented excellent value for money – although it is no bargain now. It’s always been second growth quality, even though it has an official ranking of a fifth growth. It has also made a lot of wine of recent, normally around 35,000 cases of the grand vin. Jean-Michel has always prided himself on making generous amounts and selling the wine at a reasonable price while many of his neighbors have reduced production and increased prices.
The family also owns or are involved in these wineries and projects: Ormes de Pez (Saint-Estèphe), Villa Bel-Air (Graves), L’Ostal Cazes (Minervois la Livinière), Xisto (Douro, Portugal), Tapanappa (South Australia), the brands Michel Lynch and Circus and the distribution company JM Cazes-Sélection.
Writing in an e-mail about his son, Jean-Michel wrote: “It seems that we have the good fortune that we get along well and I will continue to play a modest role in the business, for it would be for me difficult to completely give up a trade which meant so much to me. I believe however that the challenges facing our profession must be taken on by someone who, God willing, has time ahead of him to address the job.”
Good luck to Jean-Charles!
Bob Golbahar — Los Angeles — November 8, 2006 7:06pm ET
James Suckling — — November 8, 2006 8:42pm ET
Jean Michel Cazes — Pauillac, France — November 12, 2006 12:35pm ET
James Suckling — — November 12, 2006 12:59pm ET
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