A Lunch to Remember: Restaurant le Lion d’Or

Authored by Christina

On our first evening in town, Jean-Charles Cazes from Chateau Lynch Bages had offered to set us up with a lunch at what he described as a very local restaurant.  He said they had a wine locker there, and that it would be hard for us to get in on our own because the owner was a bit particular, but that he would take care of it.  And he most certainly did.

When we arrived at the Lion d’Or, we were completely charmed by its quaint exterior. The interior was divided into two rooms with a small billiards table on one side.  We were greeted in French by a thin, bespectacled waiter who seemed somewhat disgruntled by our presence.  He led us to a table in a dark corner at the back of the restaurant, picked up a key from the table that was marked, “Lynch Bages,” and in a very authoritative voice (and broken English, bless him), said, “You may have ONE bottle of wine from the locker.”  Honestly, it was all we could do to keep a straight face.

The Lynch Bages wine locker at Le Lion d'Or.
The Lynch Bages wine locker at Le Lion d’Or.

I couldn’t resist following Bob into the other dining area where he was led to the Lynch Bages locker.  While Bob was discussing our wine choice with the waiter, the crowded table near the locker was inspecting Bob.  Suddenly, one of that party hopped out of their seat to take a picture of Bob removing a bottle.  At this point, I was about to start laughing out loud.

We got the distinct impression from the staff that we were interlopers, outsiders, but honestly, we were so charmed with the novelty of the experience, I think we managed to charm the staff right back.  We managed to muddle through the menu together, and order some outstanding food.  Duck confit, these little fried potatoes – not quite pommes frites, not quite waffle fries – so good.  But the star of the show was the wine.

You see, we had made a bit of a tactical error in our trip planning – or rather, our expectations of what we would be drinking.  We drink enough aged Bordeaux at home to know how we like it, but it’s a tough pill to swallow when you know what you paid for the wine you have aging at home, and then you see it on the restaurant menus for more than ten times the price.  And naturally, at the tastings, most of what were sampling was newly released – you could taste the potential in many cases, but that was about it.  Not a lot of serious drinking for the pure enjoyment of it.

The waiter had prompted Bob to select a bottle of 2001 Chateau Lynch Bages, and the moment we tasted the wine we were so grateful for it.  Bob has handled the technical aspects of the wine in his review below, all I can say is that the wine took me immediately to my Bordeaux happy place.  We smiled, and toasted Jean-Charles.  Suddenly, I understood why the waiter said we could only have ONE bottle!

Christina with the 2001 Chateau Lynch Bages.
Christina with the 2001 Chateau Lynch Bages.

2001 Chateau Lynch Bages:  Deep dark garnet color, with a very good nose of red/black fruit, baking spices, forest floor and a hint of charred wood.  In the mouth, deep rich flavors of blackberry and dark bing cherries, with medium acid keeping it all lively.  The wine is full bodied, broad and expansive on the pallet, with a great combination of spices on the velvety smooth long sweet fruit filled finish.  The tannins are mostly resolved and the wine is drinking very well at this point in time, but will continue to add more complexity over the next decade.  If you have this wine in your cellar, the hard part will be not drinking it now.  The 2001 Lynch Bages is very elegant and a truly classic Bordeaux wine.

Bordeaux 2013 099
A nibble.

We later learned from other reviews of Lion d’Or, that the owner can be fairly temperamental.  Perhaps attitude is everything, or perhaps we got a good day.  At the end of our meal, the owner came out and sat at the table nearby, conversing in French with that group.  Then, turning to us, smiling and rubbing his generous belly, he asked us in broken English, “es good?”  We could only smile back our agreement.

Merci beaucoup, Jean-Charles!