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The 2020 Vintage: "LE SUBLIME"

2020, the mirror year, is also the golden number of this rare vintage -one of perfect proportion and ideal harmony. It evokes at the same time the cyclical time of the vine and its work, an ideal of balance and that duality, undergone, overcome and sublimated, which characterises it. 

Between the very mild winter and ensuing spring, there was no break but instead a fluid transition ensured by abundant rainfall. The equivalent of a whole year’s rain fell between November 2019 and June 2020, which replenished the soil’s water reserves, necessary for the vines during the summer period.

Months of hot weather followed, not extreme heat but very dry conditions, until storms arrived in mid-August, which delivered to the soils just what they needed in order to partner the vines in their growth cycle and avoid them slowing or shutting down. These alternating conditions which appeared very marked, even violent, were smoothed out by our clays soils which, acting like a sponge, were able to retain moisture and pass it on sparingly and with regularity to the vines.

This smooth, harmonious development of the vines was marked by a number of important stages. After an early start to the growing season and fears of frost, which didn’t materialise, the flowering process was fast and perfectly smooth, especially in the early-ripening vineyards just after the 15th May. The veraison process took place mid-July in excellent weather conditions.

 

The vines were in perfect health throughout the whole of the cycle, and the grapes filled up with sugar as they benefited from an even ripening right till the end. The berries remained small but perfectly formed, while the skins were thick and the pips ripe.

Although a hot and sunny year, this vintage is perfectly balanced. While the alcoholic degrees are relatively high, these are subtly balanced by pHs which bring out the freshness and intensity of the fruit flavour.

At Angélus this year, the harvest began on 15th September and lasted only a short time. The Merlot was harvested in just 8 days! The Cabernet Franc was picked in three days –September 28th, 29th and 30th in absolutely perfect weather conditions.  Rarely has a vintage produced such sublime Cabernet Franc at Angélus.

Our initial impressions when we tasted the berries have been consistently confirmed when tasting the wines: silky, tight-knit tannins, a very deep colour, precision in the ripe fruit aromas, amazingly intense aromatic complexity, and very long, very lively freshness of flavour on the mid palate.

This lively tension and sublime duality have forged the character of a new, remarkable Angélus which is bound to capture people’s imaginations and remain long in their memories.

 

 

ANGELUS AFFECTED BY FROST

Everything in the vineyard had been been in the best possible shape up till now. It gave us an early glimpse of the potential 2017 crop. After a normal bud-break, spring brought mild temperatures and vine vegetation growth accelerated, while the formation of bunches was 10 days early.  

Unfortunately, the wine region of Bordeaux was severely hit by frost during the nights of the 26th and 27th April, Angélus included. Although 80% of the vines at Angélus dedicated to the First Wine are undamaged, the impact is nevertheless quite significant.  

The 2017 harvest will therefore not be abundant. However we will muster all the necessary energy and all our resources to make the little wine we will produce in 2017 of outstanding quality.  

If we look back over the history of our region, we are reminded that if a spring frost affects the abundance of the harvest, it does not necessarily reduce quality. The glorious vintages of 1945 and 1961, when the initial weather conditions were similar to what we have just experienced, are two shining examples.  

"Unstinting efforts ensure the successful completion of all work." Virgil. 

 

Could Cabernet Franc be one of our oldest grape varieties?

 

In his ampelographical treatise of 1909, P. Viala stated that the etymology of its name and its synonyms go way back in history and referred to a scholar of the 17th century called Petit Lafitte, who appeared to claim that the Vidure (the Petite Vidure or the Grosse Vidure)-its Bordeaux name, was the ancestor of the Biturica. He bases his opinion on the hypothesis that the word Vidure may come from the word Bidure, then Biturica. It was from the 19th century that the Cabernet Franc could be found in written works.

In 1829, in his “Classification of the Wines of Bordeaux and Specific Grape Varieties”, the wine broker M. Paguierre found it to be “delicate with a bright deep colour and with superior flavour”. Then in 1855, in “Vine-growing, Vinification and Wine” by M. d’Armailhacq, an article by the Count Odart stated that the wine it produces is “fine, full of bouquet and long-ageing”. At this time already, specific reference was being made to the very notion of terroir and the nature of the soils. He also wrote that “according to the spot where it was planted, the results were different: on limestone soils the wine was outstanding; on gravel over clay subsoil it produced a wine that was rich in colour and long ageing; on light sands the wine was light and had limited ageing potential; in tuff the wines were of no interest, it was flat and colourless”. In other words, the place where it was planted and its supply of water were of great importance. We are also told that the wine of this variety “keeps for a very long time and gains in bouquet and delicacy over 12 to 15 years… and it can keep well up to 20 years”.

 

In 1868, Cocks et Ferret described it as having “ leaves which were comparable to those of the Cabernet Sauvignon, they are slightly less fine and less shiny, their indentations are a little less deep; its canes are long and covered with light brown-greyish bark, which led to its name Cabernet Gris. Its bunches are less long than those of the Cabernet Sauvignon, its fruit is very flavoursome”. In 1874, in his treatise on grape varieties, Count Odart said that the wine it produced in suitable terroir was “ fine, full of bouquet and long-ageing”. He added that “ it was one of the plants in Gironde that had the reputation of producing one of the most distinguished wines when the fruit reaches complete ripeness”.

In 1886, again in Cocks et Ferret, we can read that the wine is “light in colour when it leaves the vat and that it becomes darker after three or four months”, a fact that we witness today during each of our vinifications.

The Cabernet Franc has numerous synonyms. According to “Synonymy of Ampelography” by the INRA, it can correspond to different origins and types: Achéria –the Basque country, Arrouya – the Jurançon region, Bouchet or Gros Bouchet – around Libourne, Bouchey or Boubet – the Adour basin, Breton – the Loire valley, Capbreton rouge and Messange rouge – the Landes sands, Gouhaort – Madiran, Noir dur – Loiret, Grosse Vidure and Carmenet – the Bordeaux area, Véronais – Saumur, Cabernet Gris and Petit Fer – around Libourne, Carbouet – Bazas area.

P. Galet, in “Grape Varieties and Vineyards of France” described it in 1962 as a “ small producer”. Jancis Robinson, in her1986 book on grape varieties wrote, “ it participates in Saint-Emilion in the production of absolutely superb wines. Its aromas are of raspberries, violets and pencil shavings”. She reminds us that a report dating from the 18th century, quoted by Professor Enjalbert, considered it particularly well adapted to the Libourne vineyards.

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History

Château Angelus is one of the largest and most prestigious St-Emilion estates and was promoted to1er grand cru classé status in the 1996 St-Emilion reclassification. Since 2012 ranked Premier grand cru classé (A) in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine. Passionately managed for over four generations, Angelus is owned and run by two cousins, Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, andJean-Bernard Grenie and is located in the centre-west of the St-Emilion appellation, due west of St-Emilion town.

Angelus's vineyards, 57.8 acres, situated less than a kilometer away from the famous St Emilion steeple, enjoys a perfect southerly-exposed slope - Cabernet Franc (which makes up 48% of the blend) is grown at the bottom of the slope, where the soil is sandier and warmer, while the Merlot(50% of the blend) is grown in the limestone-rich clay soils at the top of the slope. The wine is matured in 100% new oak for 18 months. Rich, concentrated and complex, Angelus needs at least five years of bottle age before it should be approached.

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Vineyards

What makes a great “terroir”? It is much more complex than you might think. It is not just the land, the earth, its natural capacity to drain away water and retain humidity – limestone or clay – the proportion of different elements in it that make it warm or cold soil, rich or poor ground, well-balanced or lacking. It is also the way it is exposed at the head of a valley, on a slope or at the foot of a hill, which creates little places that can be absolutely outstanding.

 

The vineyard at AngОlus resides in a natural amphitheatre on a south-facing slope of Saint-Emilion and at its foot, where the summer temperatures are concentrated and where growth starts earlier. The soil is naturally drained by the slope. A good distribution of limestone and clay (between 8 and 20%) provides a regular supply of water and minerals. The vines’ rootstocks areideally suited to this “terroir” and the vine varieties are distributed according to the soil types: Merlot on the hill, where there is more clay and Cabernet Franc on the sandy clay-limestone soils at the foot of the hill.

 

Surface area : 23.4 hectares (58 acres) in one single block
Situation : On the south-facing slope of Saint-Emilion, on the famous “pied de côte” (foot of the slope)
Soils : Clay-limestone in the high part, clay-sand-limestone on the hillside slopes.
Density of plantation : 6,500 to 7,500 plants per hectare
Grape varieties : 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon
Average age of the vines : 30 years
Pruning technique : “Girondine”, leaving two canes
Vineyard management : Vines are grown in the traditional manner. Some of the rows are seeded with grass. Debudding, then crop thinning in summer
Harvesting : 100% by hand. The grapes are sorted on the vine and on three sorting tables at the cellar
De-stemming : 100%
Annual crop yield : 30 to 35 hectolitres per hectare

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Winemaking

Cabernet Franc is cultivated lovingly, defended, respected and admired. On some of the greatest Saint-Emilion estates, Cabernet Franc covers a large proportion of the vines grown. At Angelus, it is not the majority grape variety, but accounts for 47% of the total vineyard and the Cabernet Franc vines are on average more than 30 years old.

 

Balanced and long-keeping:  At Angelus, this variety has always been popular. It is strongly represented on the estate and makes an important contribution to the blends of the prestigious Saint-Emilion wines that grow on the south-facing slope and in the gravelly soils next door to Pomerol. In the Angelus vineyard, Cabernet Franc is grown on warm soils made up of sandy limestone scree lying on top of clay that benefit naturally from a regular water supply. Cabernet Franc vines reach their peak at 20 years old and the most spectacular results are achieved with fruit from vines older than 40 with low yields.

 

The wines are slow to open up, but they are amongst the most intriguing and the most refined. Their colour becomes more intense during ageing, the menthol, spicy aromas are impressively elegant and subtle. The tannins are dense, but silky and bring the necessary fresh notes to achieve overall balance. Cabernet Franc enhances the ageing of the greatest wines.

 

OEnologist : Hubert de Boüard de Laforest

Fermentation : In temperature controlled stainless steel, concrete and oak vats at 28 to 32°C
Maceration : 2 to 4 weeks
Running off : The wine is run off the skins directly into 100% new oak barrels
Blending : Selection and blending of batches after the first summer of ageing
Annual production : Château Angélus – 1st Classified Growth: 90,000 bottles on average, i.e. 7,500 cases
Ageing : 18 to 24 months in new barrels
Fining : Generally no fining, otherwise traditional with egg white
Bottling : At the Château, 20 to 26 months after the harvest
Distribution : All over the world through the Bordeaux market

 

 

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4 different wines with 77 vintages

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Château Haut-Brion Blanc 2021 / 55% Semillon + 45% Semillon. Great intensity of green apple, pear and pineapple, acidity, crispiness, structure and length. Vibrant. Long lemony aftertaste. Sheer class. 98+p.

3m 1d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  29 wines 

Lafleur 1950 / This was a fascinating bottle. It was in fine form,  and the level was top-shoulder. Decanted only 45 minutes. Light and feeble colour. Exposed and very seductive, fragrant, candied sweet bouquet. Flawless and silky, but also with a firm backbone of minerals. Rich and soft wine with drying fruit that echoes chocolate and coffee. Has lots of complexity, but requires fast drinking. Long and remaining at the end. Sensational, old-style refined Lafleur. 

4m 4h ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  21 wines 

2021 Château Ausone / Ruby. Scented, delicate, nuanced, bright, layered, floral and intense nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, blackberries, silky smooth, velvet, detailed, elegant and refined, the texture is unbelievable in this wine, beautiful! A very graceful wine. 12,7% alcohol. About 8000 bottles made. 96-98p

4m 8d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW/BWW2022-Best Germany Wine Critic of the World, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  745 wines 

This years "en primeur" tasting seemed like a journey in time. Bordeaux is back to a more moderate alcohol level and the style is lighter and more elegant. One could say the wines are reminiscent of the 80s, however made with more experience and the modern techniques today. It is not a powerful vintage. The wines are elegant, however the well made ones have an excellent persistence, depth and length. They offer a convincing potential for a long ageing and promote elegance in Bordeaux again. It is a true vintage of terroir although there is a lot of talk about a vintners vintage. However, terroir was the decisive factor in 2021.


Professor Axel Marchal has presented the 10 key points of this vintage on the occasion of the Union des Grands Crus press tasting:


"1. The start of the growing season was marked by severe frost on the 7th and 8th of April.


2. Wet and gloomy weather in May slowed down the vine growth although a providential window of fine weather helped flowering unfold in ideal conditions in early June.


3. Thunderstorms in June slowed down the onset of water stress.


4: Cool, dull weather in July increased the threat of vine diseases.


5. Véraison (colour change) was observed in mid-August, while vine growth had not stopped yet.


6. Thanks to a cool summer, the dry white wines are brilliant, lively and aromatic.


7. The wonderful Indian Summer allowed the red grape varieties to ripen in ideal conditions and preserved aromas.


8. The Merlots are fresh and aromatic while the Cabernets from the finest terroirs are well-structured with good balance.


9. The development of Botrytis cinerea in Sauternes was delayed by the cool summer and eventually triggered by rainfall in mid-September.


10. Despite low yields, the botrytised sweet white wines are of excellent quality."


It will be exciting to see the evolution of this vintage which produced in many cases yields on a very low scale. Arguably it will be a vintage praised for it finesse in the future. A vintage rated on finesse and persistence rather than on sheer power and opulence.

4m 19d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  12 wines 

2019 Cheval Blanc 98-99p/ 58% Merlot, 34% C. Franc and 8% C. Sauvignon. Distinguished and intensely aromatic nose of violets and raspberries. Very refined and sophisticated on the palate with great structure, richness and mega long aftertaste. Simply an extraordinary effort. 

6m 3d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Tasting with wines like Cheval 1947, Pingus 2000, Latour 1970, Ridge Monte Bello 1970, Unico 1960 etc...

6m 21d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  36 wines 

2019 Le Pin  /  Excellent density, liquid silk or liquid cashmere, long, sophisticated, decadent and kinky, and fantastic midpalate. Heavenly stuff. 99p

7m 21d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  20 wines 

2020 Le Pin 99-100p / Barrel sample. Great density, liquid silk or liquid cashmere, long, sophisticated, so decadent and with fantastic midpalate. Heavenly stuff

8m 4d ago

 Roger Voss, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  12 wines 

Château Pétrus 2020 Barrel Sample (Pomerol); 98–100 points. Spice and black fruit aromas shine in this powerful wine. The density of the texture and the concentrated fruits are seamless in their power. Yet, at the same time, the wine has refreshing acidity at the end that puts everything on a pedestal. It is the summation of Pétrus.

8m 15d ago

 Jeff Leve, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  20 wines 

2020 Bordeaux is the grand finale of the never-before-experienced, three consecutive run of great vintages. Yes, there has been a few back-to-back double plays, but this is the first time Bordeaux has ever experienced a full hat trick. There are differences in the vintages, which will become more apparent as the wines age and evolve. Each vintage is unique. Perhaps 2020 is closest to 2018, for its opulent, velvet drenched, sensuous style.  Though, it is important to note that you also find freshness, lift and elegance. Here is something to consider about 2020, alcohol levels are lower for many estates, which is surprising with hot, dry years like 2020.

9m 29d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Inspired by James Bond – No Time to Die, we included Château Angelus 2003 (96p) in our Tour de France dinner. What a crowd pleaser. Rich and intense. In wonderful condition now but left no  doubt that this wine will evolve beautifully another 5-10 years. The aristocratic La Mission Haut-Brion 1998 (97p) shone on a par with Angelus, with its classic charming style. The joker of the eve, Stag's Leap Artemis 2014 (92p) served with aged hard cheeses was a true charmer with its dense finesse.

10m 13d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  56 wines 

Bordeaux 2020 Vintage - Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2020- lots of aromatic blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose, powerful on the palate with a strong backbone, big concentration, multilayered and with great length. Long, long finish. Impressive effort. 96-97p.

1y 3m ago

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