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The Pleasure of Pauillac: Chateau Lynch-Bages 1989, Pauillac, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux

Regarded as the most esteemed commune of the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux, Pauillac has bequeathed some incredible wines to the world of wine appreciators.

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ying between Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien, the commune of Pauillac occupies 1,200 hectares of free-draining, alluvial soils located directly on the outskirts of the town of the same name, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary.

Pauillac is renown for its prized recognition in international markets, courtesy of the 1855 Classification of the Medoc, which included many of the Chateaux in Pauillac in its ranks. Producing Pauillac’s predominant Cabernet Sauvignon blends, names such as Latour and Lafite-Rothschild were recognised as two of the top five Chateaux. Mouton-Rothschild later joined these stars in 1973, in a revision of the famous ranking which was scarcely ever heard of.

Chateau Lynch-Bages is a fifth-growth, or Cinquieme Grand Cru Classe, in the 1855 Classification. It is an estate steeped in history, with its vignerons and benefactors playing crucial public roles throughout Bordeaux’s often turbulent past. Comprising 100 hectares of Pauillac, the Lynch-Bages vineyard consists of predominantly Garonne gravel, while the Gironde estuary and Atlantic ocean have a vital combined role in regulating temperature.

The 1989 vintage was exceptional. Once poured out from the decanter, secondary fruit characters prevail. Lots of old, worn leather – the type of leather with a history to tell, aromas of roasted chestnuts wafting from the Bordelais street corner, and cold English Breakfast tea express brilliant complexity. The palate is youthful, with incredibly powerful yet classic fine, ripe tannins. The prominent initial secondary characters are the only display of some maturity. After a while the fruit evolves and there is cassis and dark plum present, with wonderful depth of flavour.

With this evocative and explicative experience, shared with friends and good quality New Zealand lamb back straps, it was obviously very pleasing to be alive to the fact the cork was satisfactory. If you could guarantee the consistency of the wine from bottle to bottle by virtue of an abiding closure, the Lynch-Bages 1989 will continue to age beautifully if cellared with its deserved care for another 20+ years. However we are not afforded that luxury of certainty. Again if your closure is dutiful, the Lynch-Bages’ elegant yet substantial style ensures it is thoroughly enjoyable now. At 12.5% abv the alcohol certainly isn’t overwhelming – in fact the balance is tremendous.

A wonderful wine that indelibly earns the title of a celebrated Bordeaux.

96 points
Average $NZD385.00 excl. tax