• Domaine: Lynsolence
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Grand Cru
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
Denis Barraud has done it again, creating the ultimate showstopper of a Merlot from Saint-Émilion. In a region where some of the top tier producers of a similar caliber fetch exorbitant prices, Lynsolence proves to be an extraordinary value at under $50.00. With the 2018, 2019 and 2020 vintages fetching scores in the 90s (93-95 pts for 2020 vintage), Lynsolence is one of the Right Bank’s best kept secrets: a true insider’s wine with a devout cult following.
The vineyards at Château Lynsolence have a rich and lengthy history, dating all the way back to the 1800s when they were initially planted by Pierre-Henri Dascrambe. Pierre sensed the promise of the area’s unique terroir and chose to cultivate vines at the property, but it wasn’t until 1971, when Denis Barraud took over that things began to change at the estate. He named the estate Lynsolence after his daughter and brings his extensive knowledge to the vineyards. Denis Barraud comes from a long dynasty of vignerons and has plenty of experience with the Merlot grape. He has other renowned properties throughout the Right Bank, including another Merlot-driven stunner, Les Gravières. In fact, Denis Barraud’s wines all predominately feature Merlot planted throughout multiple terroirs in Saint-Émilion.
Lynsolence produces a wine from some of the choicest parcels in 2.5 hectares of the Saint-Émilion appellation. Some of the vines grow near Château Monbousquet where the terroir is sand with some iron and gravel deposits. The best terroir is near the legendary producer and pioneer of the garagiste movement, Valandraud. Here, the exclusively Merlot vines thrive in a mixture of gravel, clay, rock and alluvial sands. Denis Barraud also made the smart decision of hiring the legend himself, Jean Luc Thunevin, to consult here. Per Jean Luc’s guidance, Denis Barraud focuses on lowering his yields to create a more ripe, luscious and fruity concentrated wine. He describes the wine of Lynsolence as, “nectar,” and it is opulent, fruity and fat.
The vines at the estate are older, and typically are around 55 years of age. Denis Barraud is all about lowering yields, and everything is done manually in the vineyard. The vines are de-leafed to help increase the ripeness levels of the fruit prior to the harvest. They are vigorously sorted prior to vinification in in New French Oak barrels. Denis is all about long maceration periods and letting the wine rest on its lees for it to have a thick, port-like concentration. A full-bodied, voluptuous, and hedonistic Merlot is the desired outcome. Production at the estate is tiny, coming in at under 1,000 cases. For anyone who loves sensual expressions of Merlot, this wine is one to snatch up immediately because of its exceedingly limited quantity.
Throughout the years, scores for this estate have steadily been on the rise. The most recent vintage – the 2020 – received glowing reviews from critics like Lisa Perotti-Brown with scores venturing into the mid 90s. If Lynsolence continues the trajectory it is on, it’s highly likely to be another cult wine.
"The 2020 Lynsolence is 100% Merlot, aging for 18 months in French oak barriques, 100% new. Deep purple-black in color, it charges out of the glass with energetic scents of fresh blackberries, crushed black cherries and ripe, juicy black plums, plus nuances of cedar chest, lilacs and licorice with a touch of dusty soil. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is jam-packed with taut black fruits, framed by firm, finely grained tannins and fantastic tension, finishing long and layered. The alcohol is 14.5% this year." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2020), Rating: 93-95, Drink: 2025-2047