Jean-Michel Cazes, the artist behind the success of Château Lynch-Bages’ wines, passed away on 28 June 2023 at the age of 88. A truly immense figure from the world of wine.
A great Bordeaux wine-making figure left us last week. Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac, was one of the most passionate ambassadors of Bordeaux grands crus. After a career at IBM, he took over the reins of the estate at the start of the 1970s. At the time, his father was reluctant to part with this domain that had been hard hit, like most other Médoc grands crus, by crises and difficulties in adding value to their wines, let alone selling them. Jean-Michel Cazes undertook the challenge of revitalising the business. A tireless traveller, he set off around the world, spreading word of the property with the aim of boosting Château Lynch Bages’ image which was “only” classed as a 5th grand cru classé in the 1855 classification. Following the brilliant success of his wines, Jean-Michel Cazes also worked to set up AXA Millésimes, the wine selling side of the AXA insurance company. Profoundly attached to his home in Pauillac, he put all his energy into bringing the hamlet of Bages back to life, encouraging businesses to come back to revitalise local life. It was only a few months ago that Jean-Michel Cazes published his memories, detailing his life and work in the fine wine world during the 20th and 21st centuries.
During his travels, Jean-Michel Cazes forged strong friendships with wine enthusiasts from all over the world. One day in 2005, after the passing of one of these friends, he approached our team to help his family sell his friend’s collection. In addition to an impressive array of Bordeaux grands crus that Jean-Michel sold himself, we discovered a real Aladdin’s cave, a dream collection made up the greatest names. We already knew many of them, but we also discovered a few more. Each of these bottles had been carefully chosen, the best vintages selected as well as the rarest bottles. An example? There was an entire series of Clos Rougeard bottles. Among them, there were some bottles from the 1995 vintage which included a sweet, white Coteau de Saumur. The collector is undeniably one of the most knowledgeable wine lovers whose treasures we have had the honour of selling.
Today, the Pauillac property is entering a new era with the recent introduction of a new production tool that looks like something from the future. iDealwine members will always look back fondly on Château Lynch Bages’ 2010 vintage which they were able to taste during a memorable evening in Paris several weeks ago with Jean-Charles Cazes himself. A flamboyant Lynch Bages, its deep dark fruit aromas (particularly blackcurrant) were surpassed by intense graphite notes. The exceptional length of this unforgettable wine mirrors the life of its creator. The property is in good hands, those of Jean-Michel’s son, Jean-Charles, who worked alongside his father for many years.
iDealwine sends its most sincere condolences to Jean-Michel’s family and to all the team who work on producing Château Lynch Bages’ incredible wines.