Lucky for me, my friend Tristaine who worked with me back in 2011 is now the head of marketing and PR for Lynch Bages as well as their Relais and Chateaux hotel and two Michelin Star Cordeillan Bages. We received the royal treatment the other evening while dining at Jean-Luc Rocha’s famous restaurant, purported to be the best in the entire Bordeaux region.
Jean-Michel Cazes the owner of all things Lynch Bages and his son Jean-Charles who now heads the company are practically the founders of Bordeaux Tripism. Back in 1988 when Robert and I first visited Lynch Bages, a second growth Bordeaux wine from the medoc region, we’d just ambled up to the vineyard knocked on the door and asked to taste. Lynch Bages obliged, and we’ve been hooked ever since.
Now their family company JM Cazes & Cie owns 12 vineyards, Lynch Bages which was inherited from his father plus 11 others most of which he’s acquired over the years including a winery in Portugal where his wife is from and now a brewery started just last year. They have two hotels, one a guest house in St. Estephe and the other being the Relais and Chateaux Cordeillan Bages just down the hill form Lynch Bages with its own wine and the aforementioned celebrated resto.
Perhaps the most interesting idea the father/son team has come up with recently is Viniv, a non-trivial pursuit for wanna-be wine makers where one can actually pick your own grapes and create your own wine in consultation with winemakers Daniel Llose, Nicolas Labenne, and famed consulting oenologist Eric Boissenot of Lynch Bages, Chateau Lafite, Margaux, Latrip, Palmer, Pichon Comtesse, Pichon Baron, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Leoville Barton, Leoville La Cazes to name but a few. These men are clearly the best in the business and this type of experience has never before been offered to the public. I’ve already asked for this adventure for my birthday and Christmas and mother’s day and whatever else I need to use to urge my family to buy this for me.
But back to our dinner. We began with champagne in one of the many anti-rooms before you approach the cozy dining room. Art collected by Jean Michel hangs in each room, the Sandro Chia stood out to me. We decided to go with the discovery menu, which allows you to take 2 or 3 courses. I wished I’d had listened to my stomach and gone with just two but hey what was the last 2 Michelin star meal I’d had…..I couldn’t recall.
Foie gras with cornbread was my starter, the foie gras millefeuille is a dish the chef is famous for and it did not disappoint. Codfish, in a broth flavored with mushrooms and basil followed and finally a roast beef fillet, with marinated beef brisket in herbs finished me off.
Yes everything was stunningly beautiful and inventive but not too precious or too bizarre. It’s that delicate balance that Michelin starred chefs are always trying for….something creative but not weird, wonderful tasting yet unique. The work it takes to produce this kind of food is beyond imagination.
After our meal and before our tea Tristane took us back to meet Monsieur Rocha, a young chef who has won the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a high honor, which he received at a mere 30 years old and loosely means he’s the best in the biz. Tristane had spoke of him at our meal as a huge creative talent but also a very kind easy going guy. He seems to be up for any kind of challenge that she’s put to him over the last several years of working together such as creating a picnic for VIP clients in the vines, a big alfresco brunch for a myriad of winemakers flying in via helicopter and even a meal for Swedish VIPS in his own kitchen.
Photo by Philippe-exbrayat.com
Jean-Luc has a twinkle in his eye and a wonderful sense of humor. He told us how he won her over with his mashed potatoes…..a silken bit of heaven which we too enjoyed at our meal. Those potatoes would make anyone weak in the knees.
After the visit with the chef we stopped in to play with the Chateau’s 1500 bottles of wine ogling at all the “greats” in their possession, I felt a little like I’d died and gone to heaven.
As with all Michelin starred restos in France, come prepared with a platinum credit card with a decent limit and reserve far ahead or go for lunch, the 45 euro prixe-fixe is a great deal. Treat yourself to a weekend in wine country and stay the night at the Relais and Chateaux, this way you can have that extra glass of wine.