Phenomenal Femmes Dinner with Kinou Cazes Hachemian

What a great 4 course dinner with Kinou Cazes Hachemian of Lynch-Bages, a 3rd growth Pauillac estate. The dinner included wine paitimh very successfully organized by the fantastic Marika Vida-Arnold, with quite an eye toward the perfect match. The dinner was part of the Phenomenal Femmes series that Marika created to benefit the Women’s Shelter at Crossroads Community Services at St. Bart’s Church in NYC.

The history of wine production in the BAGES territory area begun in the 16th century, but it is in the 17th century that the Lynch’s arrived in Bordeaux. Three generations of this remarkable family produced high-quality wines in their Bages property, leaving a lasting mark on the domaine. One century later, in the early 1930s, Jean Charles CAZES took over the management of the vineyard in the difficult economic environment of the great depression. He soon became a very respected wine producer and finally purchased the property in the wake of World War II. Lynch-Bages has been run by the Cazes family ever since.

What I found especially refreshing about this dinner — aside from the fantastic looking and tasting food, and the rare wines, is the private story of the Cazes family as I had never heard it before. Apparently, the great grandfather of Kinou was a very hard working baker. And between his hard work and that of his son (Kinou’s grandfather), the family bakery business became the wine business.

Kinou is beautiful, clever, and remarkably humble as she tells very special, very funny “insider” stories about her family, such as the time when they made their own white wine for private family use in the summer to take on vacations, and somehow, the Bordeaux wine police (not their official name!) found out and fined them. Though it was a small fine, the family decided to go the straight and narrow route and plant the appropriate approved white varieties (Sauvignon and Semillon and Muscadelle) and invest in a true quality white wine.

That wine turned out to be the (rare!) Lynch Bages Bordeaux Blanc 2015 we enjoyed with the delicious Hamachi Crudo, with this absolutely delicious sauce of Rosemary Green Apple puree, grapefruit “caviar,” and Yuzu. It was such a popular dish that many guests asked the chef for the recipe at the end. This wine was also paired with the first course of Santa Barbara Spot Prawn with toasted almond gazpacho, dragon fruit (!) and mache.

Kinou had so many funny stories it’s difficult to repeat them all here. Kinou began her career in advertising in New York and later worked for the French insurance company AXA in Paris and in New York. Wine and the art of living have been her enduring interests. Now living near New York City with her husband and children, she collects objects connected to wine and gastronomy from all over the world, and sources the designer creations and works of art that can be admired throughout the Lynch-Bages Wineries and in the boutiques of the village of Bages.

Luckily, Kinou and I had a few moments for a private conversation and we have much in common – one of her daughters currently attends UC Santa Barbara and I attended that University as well before graduating from UCLA. I had also the pleasure of visiting and staying at the estate a few years back for En Primeur, where her gracious father Jean-Michel welcomed me warmly in the family luxury hotel Cordeillan-Bages and for dinner in the family restaurant. It is Jean-Michel who is credited for turning the property into what it is today, after leaving his job in Paris as an engineer to build the Lynch-Bages brand in 1973. Now Kinoou’s brother Jean-Charles is running the estate.

The second course was of duck was paired with Echo de Lynch Bages 2012, the second label, and also a perfect pairing (thanks Marika!) and the main course of Deconstructed Prime Rib served with Lynch-Bages 2000 and Lynch-Bages 2005. As a special treat, a couple next to us had brought their own bottle of Lynch-Bages 1995 as a special tribute and gave us a taste.

The well chosen cheese course was served with Les Ormes de Pez 2011. It was great to not just SEE Marika again and experience her vitality, but also TASTE her matchless ability to pair the exact right dish for the chosen wine. During the evening I also met the new General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton Central Park Winfred Van Workum, a fabulous gentleman.

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