Terroir & savoir-faire

Pauillac,
a gateway to the world…

Situated on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, around 50 kilometres north of the city of Bordeaux, Pauillac is an appellation in the Médoc and covers around 1,200 hectares. The first traces of vine plantations in Pauillac date back to Antiquity, during the Roman occupation. From the 18th century on, the town of Pauillac underwent rapid development. Its port became the largest wine shipping port in the Médoc. It was an entrance and exit point for all the wine production sector. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Pauillac became a headquarters for heavy industry (blast furnaces and oil refineries) and a gateway to the world, since it was used as a stop-off point for the great ocean liners that crossed the Atlantic to South America.

…and a terroir of
Grands Crus Classés.

Located close to the Gironde estuary on its eastern side, and with the Atlantic Ocean to its west; between the appellations of Saint-Estèphe to the north and Saint-Julien to the south, the Pauillac vineyard benefits from an oceanic climate. These surrounding masses of waters make it a particularly favourable climate for wine-growing. The Pauillac wine appellation or AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) was officially recognised in 1936 and is today made up of around 40 wine estates, 18 of which are Grands Crus Classés belonging to the 1855 classification, making it a world-renowned terroir. The geology of the Pauillac commune features an extension of gravelly terraces that lie parallel to the Gironde estuary. These terraces, which date back to the Quaternary era and have a depth of around ten metres on average, cover a subsoil of marl and limestone dating from the Eocene and Oligocene eras. The main Pauillac grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Carménère.

An outstanding
vineyard.

With a vineyard covering 62 hectares (153 acres) in the heart of the Pauillac appellation, Château Lynch-Moussas produces grapes of the finest quality. The vines, planted on gravelly outcrops dating from the Günz era, made up of pebbles and gravel cemented together by clay sands, are tended with the greatest care and attention to allow them to express the full richness of their terroir. The Château Lynch-Moussas vineyard, made up mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon (75 %) together with Merlot (25 %) is adjacent to plots belonging to a certain number of other Grands Crus Classés, such as Château Latour, Château Lynch-Bages, Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and of course Château Batailley, which amply demonstrates the quality of the estate’s soils and its production.

A richness of terroir that extends into the Haut-Médoc appellation.

Since 2001, Chateau Lynch-Moussas has also grown grapes in a small vineyard located on the hillock overlooking the Château to the south. This plot, situated within the Haut-Médoc appellation, is mainly composed of young vines of an average age of 25 years and is mostly made up of Cabernet Sauvignon. Its grapes go into the production of the Château’s Second Wine, Les Hauts de Lynch-Moussas. This parcel is managed and cared for in the same way as the entire vineyard located in the Pauillac appellation. The working of the soils, the input of fertilisers, the ploughing, along with the other tasks necessary for the vines to thrive, are all done by the same team. The Haut-Médoc appellation enjoys, like the Pauillac appellation, an oceanic climate, and its soils are made up of gravel and sand. Officially recognised in 1938, the Haut-Médoc appellation covers a large part of the Médoc area, stretching from Saint-Estèphe in the north down to the town of Blanquefort, north of Bordeaux city. The Haut-Médoc covers 4,600 hectares, made up mainly of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties.

The vine cycles.

To produce grapes of the finest quality, the vine has to undergo different stages in its annual development, each of which has a bearing on the quality of the grapes harvested. There are two distinct cycles in the year: the growing cycle, which is the season during which the vegetation develops (beginning in March and lasting till mid-November); and then the winter cycle which is the vine’s dormant period.

Find out more about the different stages of the vine’s annual development.

From the rising of the sap to the leafing.

At the beginning of March, the annual growing season starts with the pruning. The prunings are removed, which enables the vine-grower to monitor clearly the new activity in the rooting system, in particular by observing the rising of the sap, which “weeps” from the pruning wounds.

At the end of March/beginning of April, the first buds make their appearance on the canes, and bud-break follows. In April, the vines come into leaf, after the buds have grown into new shoots that produce small leaves. The leaves that then form and grow constitute the vital organs of the vine. They are the basis for photosynthesis, which enables the vines to grow and develop.

See the next stages.

From fruit set to the veraison.

During May, the vines produce small clusters made up of tiny “buttons”, which are ready to open and burst into flower. At the end of May/beginning of June, these clusters bloom to begin the vine’s flowering process. This lasts between 8 and 15 days. The flowering is favoured by hot, dry and sunny weather conditions.

At the beginning of June, pollination takes place, and then the flower fades and falls off, making way for the fruit: a grape berry. This is the fruit set process. This is followed by a period in which the berries increase in size; followed by the veraison, a process in which the grapes turn from green to pink and then to blue-red. The veraison lasts from 8 to 15 days, on average.

Find out about the last stage before the harvest.

The ripening process.

From August to the beginning of October, red grapes go through their ripening process. They increase in size, accumulate mineral elements, amino acids and phenolic compounds. This is also the phase during which the grapes accumulate sugars. When the quantities of sugar and acids have become more or less stationary, the grapes have reached their ripeness, and the harvesting period begins.

In November, with the first frosts, the leaves fall, and the vines go into their dormant phase until the following March. The sap in the vines goes back down, and the vine’s winter cycle of dormancy begins. The vines live off their reserves until the next growing season.

The working of the soils and the tending of the vines season by season.

Working the vineyard soils is done according to the four seasons, which correspond to the different stages of the vine cycle. The Château’s vineyard crew adapts its work to this cycle in order to get the best out of the vineyard.

Discover the vine according to the seasons.

Winter.

In winter, the vine-growing crew prunes late in the season. This enables them, before removing the old shoots, to better identify and select the buds which will give the best shoots for fruit-bearing for the next harvest. The next task is to tie down the canes to the wires in order to correctly orientate the growth of the new shoots. During this period of the year, the soil is ploughed in order to enhance the supply of nutrients to the vines. Over many years, soil maintenance has evolved at Château Lynch-Moussas. Today, the crew carry out weed control through mechanical ploughing. This technique enables a more eco-friendly removal of the weeds that compete with vine growth and adversely affect the development of the vines. When performed well, ploughing helps aerate the soils, enhances the soil’s structure and creates better rainwater penetration. It favours biological activity and soil life, which improves nutrient supply to the vines. In breaking up the superficial vine roots, it also forces the vine plants to delve deeper into the subsoil. The main advantage of ploughing in the Château Lynch-Moussas vineyard is to bring more life to its soils. Living organisms and insects multiply and enrich the soils.

After ploughing, the work on the vine canopy begins.

Spring.

During spring, when the vines begin to bud and shoot, the vine-growing crew are busy in the vineyard removing any unwanted shoots growing on the vines. These may be suckers growing on the vine trunk, or lateral, non-fruit-bearing shoots, the removal of which also offers better ventilation for the fruit. Between May and June, the shoots are trellised within the wires in order to bring them into an upright position and to space them out for better balance.

Find out about the work on the vine canopy during the summer.

Summer.

When summer arrives, it is time to trim the vines’ long shoots. By limiting vine vegetation growth, the flow of sap is concentrated in the productive parts of the vine and therefore directed towards the grapes. The crew also thins out the foliage, as well as the grape bunches, a task called “green harvesting”. This latter task regulates the crop yield and enhances the ripening of those grapes left on the vines.

What is the final phase of the vine cycle in autumn?

Autumn.

In autumn, in the month of September, the precise date of the harvest is decided. The picking of the grapes is done solely by hand, with the help of a harvesting crew that comes especially for the occasion. From mid-September to the end of October, the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are harvested in their entirety, but separately, according to their ripeness levels. Harvesting by hand allows us to carry out a first sorting of the fruit in the vineyard, during which only perfectly ripe and healthy berries are selected. A second sorting on a sorting table in the cellars enables a close monitoring of the condition of the bunches, and the removal of any remaining undesirable elements that may affect the quality of the wine.

Discover the vine according to the seasons.

Vinification and blending of the wines in the Vat Room and Cellars.

Once harvested, the bunches are de-stemmed. The berries then go through a crusher in order to release the juices. The grapes of each plot at Château Lynch-Moussas are transferred separately to their own individual vat, in order to guarantee optimal traceability and ensure that the work carried out on each plot can be tracked back in order to make any necessary future adjustments to the work done in the vines.

Find out more about the wines’ time in vats.

Vatting.

The must obtained from the juice, skins and pips, macerates at a low temperature for a few days in order to extract fruit flavour, tannins, aromas and colour. Once this maceration period is finished, within an average of four to six days the alcoholic fermentation begins in temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats. This process lasts around ten days. After two to three weeks more of contact with the skins, the wine is run off, and the skins are taken out to be pressed. The wine obtained from pressing, known as the press wine, is aged in barrel separately from the free-run wine. Finally, the second fermentation, also known as the malo-lactic fermentation, begins. At this stage, the grape varieties (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) are still separate. This process enables the malic acids present in the wine to be transformed into lactic acids, thanks to the wine’s natural lactic bacteria. Once all these stages have been completed, it is time to rack the wine to separate the clear wine from the lees. The different vats representing each plot on the estate are tasted and evaluated throughout the vinification process, so as to gain a rough idea of which lots will go into the Grand Vin and the Second Wine. The final decision is made a few months later.

See the ageing process for the wines.

The ageing process.

As from this moment, the wine of each plot of vines (vinified separately in a corresponding vat) is transferred to the barrel cellar where it ages for 14 to 24 months, depending on the quality of the vintage and on the wine (First or Second Wine). Ageing in barrel enhances the quality of the wines, and new aromas are brought out. At Château Lynch-Moussas, 55% to 60% of the barrels are new, while the rest are second-fill barrels. The oak used for the making of the barrels is wholly sourced from the main French oak forests, and the barrels are made by 7 different cooperages, each one of them bringing their individual touch to our wines. After 4 months’ ageing in barrels, the wines are transferred back to the vat room, where they are racked into vat again for the blending process. The Merlot vats are blended with those of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the finest blend possible is made for the Grand Vin and its Second Wine. After this, the wines are transferred back into barrels to finish their ageing and are bottled a good year later.

Bottling and packaging of the finished product.

When the wines are judged to be ready for delivery, they are bottled and packaged at the Château. The bottle has been specially designed for the Castéja family and displays easily recognisable features. For example, the bottom of the bottle is engraved, the shoulders are wide and the corking diameter is specific. These many details provide the wines of Château Lynch-Moussas with optimal ageing capacity. Château Lynch-Moussas is able to supply all possible bottle formats from the half-bottle (37.5cl) to the Melchior (18 litres). The closure is carefully selected and is made of high quality natural cork. The capsule is personalised and displays the Castéja family coat of arms, featuring two lions -a strong and representative symbol of the Castéjas, signifying strength, bravery and nobility. Label design or modification is managed by a special team at the Château’s head offices in Bordeaux, while the printing of the labels is done by a printer specialised in wine sector productions.