My French Heaven

AUTHENTIC MOMENTS & JOIE DE VIVRE

Category: Art de vivre & Design

Chateau Lynch-Bages: the genuine care, vision and legacy of a very special family

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As I may have told you before (can’t remember), there are about 11 000 wineries (châteaux) in the Bordeaux wine region. As you may also have picked up, my dad was a wine merchant for 60 years. When asked, out of these 11 000, what his favorite wine is, his only answer is: Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac!

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Today’s story starts a few months back.

As I was driving through the Médoc wine region (the vineyards located North of Bordeaux city where the famous Latour and Margaux wineries are), I stopped for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants: le Lion d’Or. Lamb being a local specialty, I ordered some chops in a garlic and rosemary reduction. The chops came with fried potatoes. The dish and its side looked so pretty that I had to share a snapshot of it on Instagram (shot below). A few minutes passed and along with a few likes, a comment came up. The person wrote: “The Gold Lion, the best fried potatoes in the Medoc”. I was stunned! How could someone know in which restaurant I was just by looking at a plate of fries?! I answered the comment of course and understood that this anonymous reader was in fact the daughter of the owner of the legendary Château Lynch Bages. Her name is Kinou Cazes. She lives in NYC, but we agreed to meet the next time she’d come home to France.

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Fast forward to about a month ago when I took Mimi and Gabriella to visit Lynch Bages. They had a tour of the winery, we had lunch at the bistro and I posted a photo of it on Instagram. New comment: “It’s me, Kinou, I’m home. I’ll be down in a few minutes.” And that’s how I finally got to meet the fabulous Kinou in the flesh. She gave me a copy of the beautiful cookbook she’d just published and promised she’d visit me on her next trip to St Emilion…

I visited Lynch-Bages again last week and was able to spend some time with Marina this time (Kinou’s sister) and Tristane (Director of Sales and Marketing). Mr. Cazes joined us for dessert. He is the owner of Lynch Bages and he is Kinou and Marina’s dad. He owns 3 châteaux in Bordeaux (including Ormes de Pez pictured somewhere here as well) and several other properties including one in Provence where he produces his own olive oil.

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Mr. Cazes is an incredible person. A true renaissance man. And although he is over 70 now, his passion drives him, his family and his many employees alike. He is passionate about wine of course, but also about architecture and history and art in all its forms. His collection of paintings and objects from all around the world is on display around the châteaux and everywhere in the village of Bages. The African painter and sculptor, Barthélémy Toguo was having his artwork shown that very same evening at the château.

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Anyway, I’ve lost my train of thought… Oh yes: legendary château, amazing family, superb food from Chef Jean Luc Rocha and a very special hotel at Cordeillan Bages on the other side of the village. I know I am repeating myself, but you guys HAVE GOT to come visit. If you like great food and wine, this is definitely one place you cannot afford to miss!

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The real Willy Wonka

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I was invited to a chocolate themed dinner party at a local château a few weeks back. There I met the owner of the oldest and most renowned chocolate company in Bordeaux: Cadiot Badie. His name is Willy; I mean Serge :0) I had blogged about his incredible store a few weeks back. After reading the post, he invited me to the actual chocolate factory last week to take some photos of his Umpa Lumpas at work…

I find so incredibly reassuring and uplifting, the fact that some people are still trying to keep traditions like these alive. They work with the very best ingredients they can find to produce something that ultimately brings people so much joy (and extra pounds). Serge runs around his little world like a kid in a candy store (no pun intended) and I truly admire his passion.

The day I was there, they were making simple ganache, rhum cherries dipped in dark chocolate (we call them Guinettes) as well as chestnut chocolate bouchées. All the Umpa Lumpas looked very happy and calm. I’m sure they get to eat quite a lot of the stuff behind Willy’s back…

Anyway, here are some pictures. We’ll go visit them next time you come visit ;0)

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From Cap Ferret to the Dordogne – Mimi and Gabriella’s visit to My French Heaven

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As you all already know, my greatest pleasure in life is to share everything I love about France with my guests and my friends.

My dear friend Mimi (Chef Mimi Blog) came back to visit me last week and brought along one of her dearest friends, Gabriella.

All we did for a week was eat and drink and laugh. Oh we laughed so hard… When people ask me what I do for work, I just tell them I don’t actually work… They always look at me and smile (you know, the “oh poor thing” smile. The suckers think I’m kidding. The joke’s on them!

As always, I’ll share way too many pictures today. You know how hard it is for me to sort through them all. I should have written several posts about this, but… I’ll sort them by day with a few words between each gallery. I hope that works for you and makes it a bit easier to digest (“digest” get it?!)

Day 1: Saint Emilion and the Farmers’ Market. We visited my Butcher Michel to get some nice lean cuts for our lunch. I made green peppercorn steak and sautée potatoes to go with it. Michel loved to meet the ladies and Gabriella gave him a kiss on the cheek. He became as red as the piece of beef he had sold us… I gave the ladies a tour of St Emilion in the afternoon. We returned to the townhouse in the evening and had a light dinner with goose rillettes from the Dordogne on garlic bread, warm white asparagus with a walnut vinaigrette and Saint Felicien cheese on baguette.

Day 2: The coast (Cap Ferret and Arcachon). On our second day, we headed for the coast. We visited a traditional fishermen’s village and had seafood in a tiny restaurant overlooking the Arcachon Bay for lunch. We then spent the afternoon in Arcachon and climbed the highest dune in Europe (quite a workout). We spent the rest of the day having cocktails and delicious food on a terrace overlooking the ocean. The sunset that evening was breathtaking…

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Days 3, 4 and 5 in the Dordogne. From a medieval village high up on a hill called Domme, to the castles of Beynac, Comarque and Filolie, I showed Mimi and Gabriella all of my favorite landmarks. We stayed at a small B&B owned by a lovely Italian couple near Montfort (l’ombrière). A very special place and a lovely couple. We gorged on the best local foods including foie gras, tournedos Rossini loaded with black truffles and duck confit. I think duck confit was an absolute revelation for Gabriella. I failed to mention that this was Gabriella’s first time in France outside of Paris :0) Mimi and I almost killed her with food. 17 fine lunches and dinners in a row… But Gabriella’s a tough foodie! She was able to enjoy every bite of every meal… We also visited “Chateau des Milandes”, the home of musical legend Josephine Baker. Truly special…

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Day 6: The Sauternes and it’s legendary sweet wines. We visited Château Guiraud and had an afternoon walk around the medieval village of Saint Macaire.

Day 7 and 8: The Medoc wine region, wine tastings at Château Lynch Bages and one last medieval castle where Mimi found a baby falcon that had fallen into a well and rescued him from a certain death. I told you she’s a super woman! :0) For our last lunch together that Sunday, I made my grandmother’s famous free range olive chicken. I think that was the last draw for poor Gabriella, pictured here as she was having a food coma in my chair…

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