S otheby’s Wine is delighted to continue our Spring 2022 London season with: Four Centuries of Progress | A Celebration of Lynch-Bages | Direct From The Château. This incredible Single Owner auction will be presented from our New Bond Street headquarters via a livestreamed, live auction on Friday 25 March at 11:00 AM GMT, with advanced online bidding opening on Friday 11 March.
At Sotheby’s, we have the great privilege of bringing to market many of the world’s most prestigious wine collections, whether from private cellars or direct from the most renowned wineries. Provenance is critical for us, particularly for historic vintages, and there can truly be no better source than direct from the cellars of an iconic winery.
We are therefore thrilled to introduce Four Centuries of Progress, in collaboration with our long-time friends and owners of Château Lynch-Bages, the Cazes family. Comprising a selection of historic vintages dating back to 1936, offered directly from the cellars of the Château, this dedicated sale marks a project that is the culmination of more than 400 years of this amazing estate’s evolution. Lynch-Bages is perennially one of Bordeaux’s most admired and sought-after wines, and this remarkable auction provides the Château’s wide fan-base with an astonishing opportunity to acquire, taste and enjoy historic bottles in truly perfect condition.
Four Centuries of Progress
“Drinking wine sets your mind on a journey back in time. Wine bottles are like Aladdin’s lamp: pulling the cork frees the genie from its bottle and calls forth players from a forgotten world... As we have been touched by the passion and perseverance of our predecessors, we strive to cherish and pass on from one generation to another the notion of wine as a family lifestyle. We are very happy to share in collaboration with Sotheby’s a piece of Lynch-Bages history, with a collection of vintages made by four generations of Cazes. We hope they will bring much joy to all the fine wine lovers who will have the pleasure to drink them!”
“Four Centuries of Progress celebrates the phenomenal achievements of the Cazes family, owners of Château Lynch-Bages since 1939, and their outstanding contribution to the qualitative and technological advancements that have heralded a new age in Bordeaux in recent decades. Their endless pursuit of quality over more than eight decades, defined by successive generations, has ensured that this property has remained a pioneer in its region, with ardent admirers of the family’s wines to be found in every corner of the globe. The huge following that Lynch-Bages has attained stands as a credit to the truly international approach taken by the Cazes family and their team, to connect in person with their collectors worldwide, long before it was fashionable elsewhere in the Médoc.”
- The Origins
- The Second Generation
- The Third Generation
- The Present
The Cazes family came from Couserans, near Saint-Girons, in the Ariège region of southwest France. Leaving behind their mountains and their pastures, they emigrated to the Médoc in 1875, and put down new roots near Pauillac. Jean-Charles Cazes, great-grandfather of the current Jean-Charles, was born in Pauillac and began his working life opening a bakery in the town. After the 1929 Crash, as the economy tightened its grip, he found that he was able to buy a local wine estate, Lynch-Bages, that had bankrupted the former owner. He proved to be a good winemaker. Lynch-Bages’ unique style came into its own upon his arrival at the head of the domaine in 1934. Jean-Charles represented a new generation of vineyard owners, capable of breaking with tradition, of innovating and taking risks to ensure perfectly ripe harvests. He had a reputation for often being the last to harvest in Pauillac.
On completing his law degree, Jean-Charles’ son, André, was drawn into the turmoil of World War Two; he was taken prisoner in 1940 and spent five years in a camp in Silesia. 1945, the year of the allied victory, produced a magnificent vintage. While at the same time working for an insurance firm, André continued his father’s mission at Lynch-Bages and restored the vineyard. He was a member of the small group that founded the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc et des Graves under the impetus of Henri Martin. And he was one of the first to promote Bordeaux wines abroad. André was firmly committed to his local community and was Mayor of Pauillac for more than 40 years.
Jean-Michel Cazes, father of the current Jean-Charles, originally worked as an engineer in Paris before joining his father André at Lynch-Bages in 1973. The Skawinski cellar, by then over 100 years old, no longer met the oenology criteria and vinification gave uneven results. In 1975, he began working on what had become essential modernisation work, an advanced project that was carried out in stages over more than 15 years. The Lynch-Bages’ style truly began to assert itself in this period and its wines gained in finesse and regularity. Jean-Michel also set out to travel the world, between harvests, in order to spend time with the many lovers and friends of our wine, and hopefully to recruit a few new converts. In 1985, the French astronaut Patrick Baudry took a half bottle of the 1975 vintage as his flight companion on board the American Discovery shuttle – making Lynch-Bages the first wine to enter space!
When Jean-Michel’s son, Jean-Charles, took over in 2007, he tasked the Lynch-Bages team with starting a thorough soil and vine performance analysis. This allowed them to obtain detailed maps of the vineyard, resulting in an even greater refinement of the style of this leading Pauillac estate. As a result of this work and their new higher definition approach to viticulture and vinification, Jean-Charles and his team had to rethink the winery’s layout and processes, to further enhance the quality potential of the wines. In the 1980s, during one of Jean-Michel’s trips to tell the story of Lynch-Bages, he met Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, resident architect working on the Louvre Pyramid project, which was headed by his father Ieoh Ming Pei. Didi shares the same passion for wine and in the course of his visits to the Médoc, they became good friends. When it came to appointing an architect for this ambitious new project, Didi Pei was the obvious choice. Marking four centuries of history and the culmination of four years’ hard work, the 2020 vintage, the first in our renovated cellars, opens a new chapter in the life of the estate.
The pioneering spirit of the Cazes family is exemplified in the completion of their stunning new winery, a state-of-the-art architectural space designed by the esteemed Chien Chung (Didi) Pei. This incredible project was completed in time for the harvest of the great 2020 vintage, marking a turning point in the history of the estate as the first vintage to be processed in these new facilities. Amongst many historic and exciting lots that are sure to capture the attention of collectors worldwide, a special highlight of the auction is a bespoke En Primeur barrel of this inaugural 2020 vintage. The winning bidder of this wonderful lot will not only receive a full barrel of 2020 Lynch-Bages, bottled in formats of their choice with a special back-label, but will also be invited to dine at Lynch-Bages with the Cazes family and stay overnight at their beautiful Château Cordeillan-Bages property.
“The new winery at Lynch-Bages must be one of the most incredible feats of vinicultural engineering that the wine world has seen in the last two centuries. This cathedral of wine is a testament to science and nature, history and progress, and most of all to the forethought of one of Bordeaux’s great winemaking families, the Cazes, and the amazing skill of Didi Pei in executing their vision. The incredible, profound space has an almost holy feel; from inside and out one can truly sense the ingenious way in which things normally considered opposed (technology and nature, science and art, light and dark) have been perfectly synergized and intertwined, working symbiotically to create an environment that defies their separation and delivers results that truly set a new benchmark in Bordeaux. An incredible feat of architectural engineering, the entire space is naturally cooled and self-regulating at a perfect temperature, something which Jean-Charles tells me, from an energy-consumption and future-proofing point of view, was incredibly important to the family. What really strikes you, standing amongst the vats in this ingenious temple of stainless steel, glass and concrete, is the incredible quiet; a space that is simultaneously so peaceful and exciting. Absolutely everything has been considered here, and history has been very cleverly preserved at great expense, with the iconic old Skawinski winery contiguous with the new vat room. As we walk around Jean-Charles takes great pride in showing off the still working, century-old Skawinski engineering, followed not long after by the control screen for the vinification in the new vat room, which looks not unlike the bridge of the starship enterprise. The final thing we view are the enormous new lifts that carry the wine between levels, meaning that no pumps need to be used during vinification – each lift is individually named, some after winery employees who were particularly influential characters in the recent history of Lynch-Bages. What better way to illustrate the brilliant manner in which the Cazes and Didi Pei have managed to preserve Lynch-Bages centuries of history, whilst creating a space that will enable the beginning of four more centuries of progress. A true family vision.”
The wealth of historic stock offered here, alongside some of the greatest modern vintages from Lynch-Bages and the other superb Cazes estates, simultaneously celebrates the family’s great history and forward-thinking modernity. The wines on offer mark four generations of family winemaking, with vintages from 1936 up to 2020 offered for sale in a variety of formats, ranging from half-bottles to Nebuchadnezzars. Although predominantly made up of bottles from the Lynch-Bages estate and a limited number of exclusive experiences, we are delighted to also be able to cast attention on the outstanding wines being made by the Cazes family’s team at their other wonderful domaines throughout France and beyond. Closing the sale, we have a very limited number of special lots from properties which have been acquired by the Cazes family over the years, namely Château Haut-Batailley, Château Ormes de Pez, Domaine des Senechaux, Domaine de L'Ostal, and Roquette & Cazes.
Our thanks must go to all members of the Cazes family and their entire team at Château Lynch-Bages and beyond, for making this sale possible and entrusting us with bringing to market this incredible collection, in celebration of such an enormous milestone in Lynch-Bages’ history. The dedication and passion of successive generations of the family is clear to see in everything they do, across all their teams, and it has been a pleasure to work with them in bringing this sale to fruition.