Producer Focus: Jean-Michel Cazes
On this new Blog, I would like to come back to my Bordelais roots and talk to you about one of my favourite producers Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of four different properties throughout the Bordeaux Region: Château Lynch-Bages and Cordeillan-Bages both in Paulliac, Château Villa Bel-Air in Graves and Château Ormes de Pez in Saint-Estèphe.
Château Lynch-Bages - Paulliac
Owners of the Château Lynch-Bages since 1939, over the generations, the Cazes family has spread its viticultural wings and developed a model brand of tourism that is steeped in a tradition of hospitality. From the Ariège mountains to the vineyards of the Mèdoc and elsewhere, the story is about journeys. Like many others, the Cazes-family laborers from the Ariège region of southwest France left their mountains in 1875 and set up home in the Médoc. Jean-Charles Cazes made his first foray in wine by taking charge of Lynch-Bages in 1939.
Château Villa Bel-Air - Graves
Owners since 1988, Villa Bel-Air is a beautiful chartreuse, built in the 18th century by an advisory to the Bordeaux parliament, Louis Dufaure, Marquis of Lajarte. Louis was one of the era's great architects and designed this traditional Gironde ''chartreuse''.
When the estate was bought by the Cazes family, they immediately began a comprehensive restructuring of the vineyards and technical facilities. Inspired by the spirit of the property, Jean-Michel gave the Château its definitive name ''Villa Bel-Air''.
Inspired by its impressive historical legacy, Château Villa Bel-Air now produces a red wine and a white wine that perfectly illustrate the finesse and complexity of Graves wines.
''The domaine has been subject to numerous improvements that aim to improve the quality of the vineyard and the wines produced here (…). Wine amateurs are yet to discover the excellence of this Grand Cru.'' Robert Parker, 2005
Château Ormes de Pez in Saint-Estèphe
Although Lynch-Bages is without a doubt the flagship of the Domaines Jean-Michel Cazes, Ormes de Pez belongs to the Medoc landscape since the 18th century. Purchased by Jean-Charles Cazes in the wake of the Second World War, the history of these two estates is closely linked.
As with the renovation of Bages village in Pauillac, near to Cordeillan-Bages, the Cazes family have developed their sense of welcome by transforming this elegant residence into a charming guest house. At the time of the French Revolution, the current property was called the Domaine de Pez (meaning ''peace'' in the local dialect). As for the elms (''ormes'') that have appeared on the bottle labels since 2003, they grew on the grounds of the domaine until this mythical variety of tree ceased to grow in Europe in the 1950's.
The wines from Ormes de Pez are powerful yet characterised by their harmonious structure. They are indulgent, pleasurable and combine a smooth, fleshy texture with the distinctive elegance of a Saint-Estèphe. Made using the traditional grape varieties, these wines are rich, full-bodied and generous. They are made of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and complemented by a significant amount of Merlot for a combination of longevity and smoothness. The resulting wines are rich and fruity with a rather imposing tannic backbone. They are seductive in their youth and develop their finesse after a few years of bottle age.
As a patriotic Frenchman of Bordelais origin I have focused this piece on Jean-Michel's properties in Bordeaux. He does also own estates elsewhere in France, Europe and the rest of the world but more on that next time!
My Jean-Michel Cazes Bordeaux Wine Recommendations