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Bages, the gem of the Médoc peninsula

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Bages, the gem of the Médoc peninsula

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Between the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, in the middle of the Médoc peninsula, Jean-Michel Cazes is king of the castle – and he owns quite a few. During a very intimate trip in the village of Bages, Living It got to visit this family estate and have some of the best food and wine the Bordeaux region has to offer.

The Médoc and its vineyards have a lot of stories to tell – here are a few we heard through the grapevine while staying at the Château Cordeillan-Bages. Its history dates back to the 17th century when its two turrets were first erected.

A couple centuries later, a sprawling manor was constructed right by them. A member of Relais & Châteaux (the only one in the region), nestled in gardens and vineyards, mingles past and future. In 1989, fifty years after buying the château, the Cazes family repurposed it into a hotel of 28 rooms and suites, fitness, sauna and an azure pool.

The bedroom interiors were very recently redesigned by Milan architect Anne-Monique Bonadéi, emphasizing transparency and elegance with furniture by modernist designers such as Ero Saarinen or Marcel Breuer and noble materials like linen, leather, wood, stone and marble. It is the least to say that this castle hides many treasures: hung on the walls of the mansion are masterpieces by Pierre Alechinsky, Emilio Perez, Gérard Titus-Carmel, Tan Swie Hian and Antoni Tapiès, all part of the Cazes’ private collection.

But the most precious treasure there is to uncover is most certainly its gourmet restaurant (member of Les Grandes Tables du Monde) ran by chef Julien Lefebvre. This 35 year old prodigy arrived during the Spring of 2017 and was awarded a Michelin star nine months later.

He thereby succeeds to two Michelin Star chef Jean-Luc Rocha and world-famous chef Thierry Marx. Inside the château’s restaurant is the finest room of them all: the estate’s cellar containing over 1,800 bottles, including Bordeaux grands crus and a fine collection of wines from around the globe, all mindfully selected by sommelier Arnaud Le Saux.

A stone-throw away lies the kingdom of the Cazes family: the hamlet of Bages. Jean-Michel, the figurehead of the dynasty, has turned this village an hour away from Bordeaux into the best attraction of the region. Since 2003, the Cazes restored the little town house by house, transforming it into a hub along the notorious “Route des Châteaux”.

Wine tours, tasting courses, making your own wine at Viniv, enjoying a lunch at the terrace of Café Lavinal which was awarded Bib Gourmand status to enjoy a flavourful local cuisine created by chef Julien Lefebvre, renting a bike for a ride through the vineyards – you can literally do anything and everything in this charming village.

Over the last few years, Bages has become a charming and popular tourist destination in the Médoc and was awarded the prestigious title of “Wine Tourisme Pioneer” by the French Superior Council of Wine Tourism. This picturesque village is full of opportunities to experience the true “art de vivre” of the epicurean Médoc region.

In the heart of Bages is the biggest castle of them all: the Château Lynch-Bages. This winery, currently under renovation, produces the renowned “Château Lynch-Bages Grand Cru Classé Pauillac”. The refurbishment, overseen by Chinese architect Chien Chung Pei, is due for completion in Winter 2019 and sure does seem extremely promising.

If you came to visit a proper winery, have no fear: the family owns yet another château you can visit in Saint-Estèphe, the Château Ormes de Pez. This 40-hectare wine estate produces a powerful, indulgent and smooth Saint-Estèphe that you will have the luxury to taste once you’re given the grand tour which is truly as pleasurable as the wine.

Not only does Bages offer you the opportunity to taste some of the most delicious wines of the region, it also enables you to create your own. With “Viniv”, the Cazes family has revolutionized winemaking, enabling wine enthusiasts to make a bespoke barrel of Bordeaux under the expert tutelage of the team at Château Lynch-Bages.

For the bundle of 15,000 euros and in 18 months time, Viniv helps you create a collection of 288 bottles of custom-made wine which you can brand as you please – and drink for years to come, while telling you very own wine stories.

Writer: Inès Bouchareb

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