Chateau Lynch-Moussas

Chateau Lynch-Moussas

5th Cru Classe, 1855

Location: AOC Pauillac.

Production: 60 hectares, producing 200,000 bottles per year of the First Wine.

Five things you didn't know about Chateau Lynch-Moussas:

- This is a big property, with 200 hectares in total, and only half of that given over to vines. The rest is parkland and forest, and it is renowned as a great spot to go mushroom hunting in autumn, for the local specialty of cèpes. Its miles of park and forest also explain why it was a famous hunting lodge for the aristocracy before the French Revolution. The King of Spain used to spend weekends here with shooting parties, hunting woodcocks in the forest.

- Once part of the bigger Lynch estate, on the 1855 document where both chateaux are named among the 18 Fifth Growths, this is already described as Lynch-Moussas, while Lynch-Bages is simply ‘Lynch’.

- Owned by the Castéja family, this is the only one of their estates on the Left Bank that is distributed through the Place de Bordeaux and not as an exclusivity by the family négociant company Borie-Manoux.

- In the late 1960s, Lynch-Moussas was in danger of disappearing entirely, as it had been in near-abandonment for many years. Director Philippe Castéja has credited the influence of the 1855 ranking with its renewal, because it gave it a renown and reputation that was too important to let slip. ‘It didn’t disappear, and we have the classification to thank for that.’

- Director Philippe Castéja is also president the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés 1855, and he also runs Chateau Batailley, he and his wife live at Chateau Lynch-Moussas full time, and has done for the past 30 years.

Current owner: Castéja family, with Philppe Castéja as director.

Most notable previous owner: Count Jean-Baptiste Lynch, who arrived as an exile from Ireland and became mayor of Bordeaux from 1805 to 1819. He loved this property and died in one of the bedrooms here.

Other chateaux owned: Chateau Trotte Vielle in Saint Emilion, Chateau Batailley in Pauillac, Chateau Haut-Bages-Monpelou in Pauillac, Chateau Bergat in Saint Emilion, Chateau Beau Site in Pauillac, Chateau Domaine de l’Eglise in Pomerol, Borie Manoux négociant house (in the family since 1881). Another branch of the Castéja family owns wine merchant Joanne and Chateau Doisy-Vedrines in Sauternes.

Commercial strategy: 100% négociants, sold 80% en primeur through the Place de Bordeaux.

Second wine: Les Hauts de Lynch-Moussas.

Through the centuries:

The Irish Lynch family of the more famous Lynch-Bages bought the Moussas estate in the 17th century, first Thomas Lynch and later Count Jean-Baptiste Lynch, mayor of Bordeaux who had the chateau built in the 18th century. It was then separated in the early 19th century into Lynch-Bages and Lynch-Moussas. The name Moussas came from a nearby village (as did Bages), and this part of the estate also kept the original chateau building. In 1855, Lynch-Moussas belonged to the Spanish Vasquez family, but it suffered heavily from the vineyard diseases at the end of the 19th century, and during the difficult years of World War One. Jean Castéja bought Lynch-Moussas in 1919, and it passed to Émile Castéja in 1969 – although by this time it had become pretty dilapidated, with just four hectares of vines in action. It was in danger of disappearing entirely and needed some serious love and attention. First Émile and now his son and daughter Philippe Castéja and Chantal Preben Hansen have overseen various improvements and investments since then.

Consultant: Denis Dubourdieu.

Plantation and vineyard work:Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (30%), average age 35 years, planted to 8,000-10,000 vines per hectare. Mechanical vineyard work but hand harvesting. Recent years have seen a far more precise approach to work in the vines, from deleafing and green harvests to closer plot by plot approach to picking.

Image © Chateau Lynch-Moussas

Vinification: The wine is made in stainless steel vats, with 18 months spent in new French oak (50% new). Wine is egg-white fined but not filtered before bottling.

Terroir: Silex, gravel over limestone subsoil. The plots of vines are spread over various areas, some near the village of Moussas, others closer to Batailley and Grand-Puy-Lacoste vineyards.

Recent improvements or changes:

A cloister on the estate has been restored, and the winemaking buildings renovated. The house also has been restored entirely.

Recent Decanter scores:

2012 en primeur – 16.25 points/20
2011 en primeur – 16 points
2010 en primeur – 16.5 points
2009 en primeur – 16 points
2008 en primeur – 14.5 points

Average bottle price in UK: £20-£35, depending on vintage.

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