Château Angelus 2018
On the label of every bottle of Château Angélus is the picture of a bell. This Saint-Émilion Premiere Grand Cru Classé A estate is situated in a natural amphitheater, surrounded by three local churches. The property’s namesake is derived from the close proximity to these spiritual houses of worship. During the harvest, vineyard workers can hear the church bells toiling while they tend to the vines. But there’s a deeper meaning to the symbol of the bell: it also represents the spiritual and priestlike devotion the eight generations of the Boüard family have to the vines at this property. The Boüard who currently runs the estate - Stephanie de Boüard-Rivoal - puts it best. She says, “We are only the guardians of a history that presided us and will survive us, so our role is to sustain it in the best conditions we are able to achieve.”
Château Angélus is one of the few estates in Bordeaux that has been run by the same family since its inception. The Boüard family has an even longer history than Château Angélus, as their legacy spans 700 years. Château Angélus was always a respectable property in Saint-Émilion, but once Hubert de Boüard took over after graduating from Bordeaux University and studying under the famed professor Émile Peynaud, quality skyrocketed. Throughout the generations, the Boüard family business was always deeply entrenched in the wine trade. So much, in fact, that one of the original names of Cabernet Franc was Bouchet, the maiden name of Hubert de Boüard’s Grandmother, Elizabeth Bouchet.
Admittedly, the quality of the wines at Château Angélus were underperforming in the early 1980s. But once Hubert de Boüard brought forth some revolutionary techniques from Burgundy, things started to change. Hubert made adjustments to the fermentation process, choosing to ferment whole berry in open top vats and conduct malolactic fermentation in small barrels instead. He made sure the estate would harvest parcel by parcel – like the vignerons of Burgundy did – and encouraged periods of ageing their wines on the lees. This would mean the wines would have more exposure to the yeast cells, yielding a creamier mouthfeel. Many estates have emulated Château Angélus’ viticultural techniques, and though these practices may seem commonplace today they were revolutionary at the time of introduction at the estate.
Stephanie de Boüard-Rivoal took over managing the Château Angélus in 2012, which was a very big year for the property. In 2012, Château Angélus was promoted to Saint-Émilion Premiere Grand Cru Classés A – the highest honor an estate can obtain in that part of the Right Bank. Since then, Stephanie has championed the transition of Château Angélus to organic viticulture. She is the third woman in the long line of Boüards to run the estate and has managed to move the property to 100% organic farming as of 2018. As of 2021, Château Angélus received its organic certification. Stephanie says the vineyards give her emotional and spiritual strength. She shares her ancestors’ devotion to crafting some of the most profound wines on the Right Bank.
“'This year we have slightly less Cabernet Franc in the blend because we are only using the oldest vines, planted by my grandfather, as a tribute,' Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal said. 'These are 60- to 80-year-old Cabernet Franc vines.' From 2018, 10% of the entire Angélus crop will be aged in large oak foudres. 'These produce tighter, more perfumed, brighter wines from less oxygen exposure,' Stéphanie commented. The 2018 Angélus is blended of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, to be aged 18-22 months in barriques, 100% new, plus two new foudres. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slips slowly, sensuously out of the glass with beautiful black raspberries, kirsch, warm plums and red roses scents, building in intensity to reveal chocolate-covered cherries, raspberry coulis, black tea, woodsmoke and powdered cinnamon notions with a waft of black olives and charcuterie. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers a wonderfully profound, multilayered, seamless experience of red and black fruits intertwined with earth, spice and floral notions and framed by exquisitely ripe, satiny tannins, finishing with amazing freshness and length. Incredibly, finely, expertly, seamlessly knit. Stunning." - Lisa Perotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/23/2019, Bordeaux 2018 Issue), Ratings: 97-100
"Very gutsy in feel, with lots of tobacco leaf, loam and espresso notes swirling around a core of steeped black currant and warm fig fruit flavors. The muscular finish is a jumble right now, but there's ample acidity coiled within. A wine that clearly wants to stand out from the pack." - James Molesworth, Wine Spectator (3/28/2019), Ratings: 95-98
"This is rich and complex from the very first nose, showing dense brambled fruit with real precision of expression. After a few minutes the aromatics explode, leaping out of the glass and giving an extra level of enjoyment to the wine. In the mouth, lovely vibrant tannins grip without any sense of urgency, joined by curls of woodsmoke and salt taffy through the finish. It's gorgeous and will make you smile with its mouthwatering finish. Only the oldest Cabernet Francs, aged between 60 and 80 years, went into the grand vin in 2018, meaning a little less Cabernet Franc in the blend than usual. But these old vines, planted by Stephanie de Boüard's grandfather, are rich in flavour and give saline emphasis to the finish. It's the first year that they have worked entirely organically, with a 32hl/ha yield from the harvest, which ran from 24 September to 11 October. A cold soak before fermentation was used to extract the colour and fruit flavours without too much tannin. The wine is aged in 100% oak barrels and, for the first time, a few amphorae." - Jane Anson, Decanter (4/3/2019), Ratings: 98, Drink: 2027-2042
"I loved the 2018 Château Angélus from barrel last year and it blew me away from bottle, epitomizing the new, fresher, more elegant style of the estate while still bringing classic Angélus richness and power. The 2018 is a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc that was brought up in new oak, with a portion of the Cabernet Franc in foudre. A vivid purple color is followed by a vibrant bouquet of blackberries, crème de cassis, crushed violets, spring flowers, and cedar pencil. Beautifully concentrated, full-bodied, and flawlessly balanced on the palate, it has gorgeous tannins, remarkable purity of fruit, and awesome length. I followed this bottle for multiple days and it only improved, picking up additional depth and richness, while never showing a hint of oxidation. Pure perfection, it's going to benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and keep for 3-4 decades. This is a sensational, magical wine from this talented team, led by winemaker Emmanuelle d'Aligny-Fulchi. Comparing this to the more opulent 2005 and 2009 over the coming decades will be an incredible experience." Jeb Dunnuck, 2018 Bordeaux From The Bottle (3/11/2021) Rating: 100, Drink: 2028-2058