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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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3 different wines with 62 vintages

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Wine Moments

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

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Château Angelus 2018 / The aromas are incredibly complex with dark berries, elderberries, bay leaves, cloves and tile, follow through to a full body with layers of creamy and lightly dusty tannins that deliver a lingering finish and great attention to detail. The flavors range from black fruit to earth and stones. It’s reserved and poised with great intensity and power, in a toned and formed mode. One for the cellar. Try after 2026.
 

1m 1d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Bordeaux 2018 in bottle / After having tasted more than 150 wines already (primo January 2021), big and small properties, I can already make a very bold statement. This vintage in red is really something, and I've to backtrack my earlier opinion based on barrel tasting, that it's inconsistent compared to 2010 and 2016. It seems that the time spent in barrels and final blends benefitted the wines a lot and they're of high quality everywhere in Bordeaux. 

1m 15d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW , Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  29 wines 

The 2018 vintage just arrived on the market and some estates have been sending the samples of the new release for an "Arrivage-Tasting". There were some excellent samples of a vintage, which was already very convincing during the en primeurs campaign and now performs as expected.

2m 13d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  47 wines 

Domaine Etienne Sauzet Montrachet Grand Cru 2017
Incredible intensity and depth in this Montrachet in 2017. Focused, complex with layers of toasted nuts, white flowers and lots of minerals. Wonderful example of this grand cru vineyard. The wine stands out as clearly the most complex and intense from Sauzet. From 50-60 year old vines; only 4 barrels made.


99 points

3m 20d ago

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Great wine weekend with friends from the wine world, gathering in Dordogne basically each of us bringing along a few bottles to smash and to wash our palate with from all the amazing local food and meat ! 

Nice Magnum of Angelus too !

7m 6d ago

 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  6 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  34 wines 

The Smith Haut Lafitte 2018 Blanc is composed of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris, aging in 50% new oak barriques. It features intense scents of lime leaves, pink grapefruit, white peaches and green mango with hints of yuzu, lemon meringue pie, crushed rocks and coriander seed. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is laden with energetic citrus and stone fruit layers, with a satiny texture and bold freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.


“2018 was quite a difficult year because of the wetness, wetness, wetness,” Smith Haut Lafitte’s winemaker Fabien Teitgen sighed. “We are organic growers, so we lost a bit to mildew. May to mid-June, it was very depressing. But the abrupt change in the weather was amazing. The very dry, sunny conditions gave fantastic evolution of the grapes. The berries were very fresh and fruity with thick skins." "We are very focused on the sorting," Teitgen continued. "We pick by hand, do an initial sorting using a vibrating table and then finish the sorting by hand. There was more work to be done on sorting the Merlot. We used no stems this year. We had enough tannin in the skins this year, so we didn’t use the stems. Then, we had to take great care with the extraction. We just focused on extracting the round tannins, none of the harsh tannins. We had to stop fermentation as soon as we detected any bitterness.” Average yields for the vintage were 21 hectoliters per hectare for the reds and 28 hectoliters per hectare for the whites. Tiny quantities, but the wines—and the grand vin in particular—are simply stunning.

9m 5d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  13 wines 

DRC La Tâche 1955 / Decanted for one hour. Deep colour, already mature at the edges. Immensely aromatic, wild meaty bouquet that reached all corners of the nose. Intensive and rich on the palate. Delicate flavours of coffee, truffles and violets. Not very robust or multi-dimensional wine but has a lovely sweetness of soft tannins and fruit at the end. A very satisfactory Burgundy from this ordinary vintage.

11m 9d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  51 wines 

1998 Château Cheval Blanc; Ruby, pink rim, floral, violets, mint, layered, again impossible to describe fully. Close to perfect balance, playfull and stil relaxed acidity. tannins soft, stunning texture, mouthwatering, just ads and ads with air, incredible length, never ending, I keep raising the score on this as it keeps unlocking more and more secrets. I wish I had cases of this one. 98


Served blind, I was sure it was Petrus, as was most of the table. Wine of the evening!

11m 13d ago

 Neal Martin, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  27 wines 

The 1985 Léoville Las Cases is not just one of the finest vintages from this Second Growth, but one of the high points for the entirety of Bordeaux in this decade. Here it eclipses the 1985 Lafite-Rothschild with ease. It has an exquisitely defined bouquet of red berry fruit infused with crushed stone and pressed rose petals, just like before. Ethereal. The palate is medium-bodied, a perfect marriage of structure and a degree of elegance that maybe the property has not matched before or since. It’s so, so harmonious on the finish. An absolute beauty. Tasted at Hameau de Barbaron in Burgundy.

1y 2m ago

 Stuart Pigott, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  22 wines 

Château Haut Brion 2009 / Extravagant and exotic, but still lively, this is a super-concentrated and elegant wine that's already breathtaking, yet has enormous aging potential. Plenty of wet earth and mushroom character alongside the cassis and blackberry aromas. Super-long, perfectly balanced finish. Drink or hold. (Horizontal Tasting, London, 2019) 100 points

1y 2m ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Angelus . In a tasting of  28 wines 

2000 Bouchard Pere et Fils La Romanée / Bright ruby, garnet rim. Fruity nose, red berries, vanilla, some sous bois and leather, elegant nose, evolving. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, slightly leaner palate, refreshing, could be more nuanced, long. 93

1y 3m ago

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