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98-100 THE WINE CELLAR INSIDER: "Opaque in color, the nose sense just picked black raspberries, wet earth, smoke, licorice, flowers and liqueur of blackberry. On the palate, the wine balances power, elegance, refinement and depth. Clearly this is concentrated but there is a lightness in the touch with a refined, precise character. The finish keeps on going with groundswells of sensually textured fruits, spice, licorice and earth for over 50 seconds! With the 2018 you have an evolution not a revolution; there is a small shift in style moving to a more refined elegance while retaining all its power. The wine was made from blending 65% (oops forgot the grape) and 35% Cabernet Franc, reaching 14.5% alcohol. it is interesting to note that with the 2018, only the oldest Cabernet Franc vines were used in the blend. The harvest took place September 24 to October 11. The yields were low at 30 hectoliters per hectare. This is the first vintage where all the vineyards used to produce Angelus were farmed 100% organically. The aging process has shifted as well, now 10% of the wine is aged in neutral foudres which will also go through malolactic fermentation in vat."
99-100 JAMES SUCKLING: "This shows beautifully sensibility of generous fruit and soft and velvety tannins with an undertone of chocolate and cedar. Full-bodied, pure and supple with a direct delivery of vibrant fruit and real terroir expression. Savory at the end with hazelnut and crunchy-seed flavors. Reality check here. Incredible fruit quality."
“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 Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2018
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.
Chateau Angelus, which has been making wine in St-Emilion for almost 250 years, is still considered "new" for that appellation. It was founded by, and has always been run by, the de Bouard family. The name "Angelus" means the ringing of bells to commemorate a catholic devotion, and the workers in the Chateau Angelus vineyards can hear the bells ringing from three nearby churches...thus how the winery got its name. Although the quality of the wine has had some rough years, the quality of the terroir is one of the best in St-Emilion. And with some key education and talent emerging from the de Bouard family in the past 40 years, the winery is now realizing its potential and has rocketed to one of the top, most sought-after labels in the region. A blend of the merlot and cab franc, from perfectly balanced soils of limestone and clay, the real Cindarella story of Chateau Angelus in not the world class terroir or fruit, but of the winemaking practices that have been put in place over the past 40 years. Hubert de Boüard de Laforest joined the family business at Angélus in 1976 and proceeded to make several modernizing changes to the vinification that allows him more control over the quality. Under his management, and the consultancy of oenologist Michel Rolland, the estate has been consistently moving up in its classifications, eventually attaining Premier grand cru classe A in 2012. The style of Chateau Angelus is lush, dense and creamy, but also elegant, classy and pure with lots of freshness. There is a second wine, called Le Carillon d’Angélus, and a third wine, called No. 3 d’Angélus. You can see the bell, the Angelus, represented in the Chateau's label, cork, case and capsule markings, as well as in the elaborate sculpture that installed in the back of the main building. It makes it easy for you to imagine being transported to this majestic Bordeaux vineyard, hearing the bells ringing, smelling the sweet grapes, and feeling the sun warming you and the soil under your feet.
Under the leadership of Hubert de Bouard since the mid 1980's, Angélus has been one of the superstars of Saint Emilion, producing modern-style, deep, concentrated and ripe wines full of richness and fruit. In 2012 Angélus (along with Pavie) joined Ausone and Cheval Blanc in achieving first growth status and Hubert's daughter Stephanie began to manage the estate. The 42 hectare vineyard is planted 50:50 Cabernet Franc and Merlot but 15 hectares are used for the second wine "Carillon" with only 27 hectares of 60-80 year old vines being used for the grand vin. In 2018 the yield is 30 hl/ha with a blend of 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and Stephanie states that her aim is to produce a wine that is more refined and poised than in the past.
Magnificient freshness in the Merlot, a selection of very old Cabernet Franc planted on clay-limestone soils and gentle extraction during vinification have combined to make this vintage a very great Chateau Angelus. A lovely depth of color attracts the eye. Perfect aromatic purity (the fruit of precision work on a daily basis), together with notes of black fruit give great charm on the nose. On the palate, a sweet note gives way to elegant tension with refined, velvety tannins. The alcohol (below that of 2010) and the oak are perfectly integrated. The finish is lingering, underpinned by the elegance of the Cabernet Franc, by the purity of the fruit, and accompanied by delicate spicy notes.
Blend: 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc
2018 Bordeaux Vintage Report and recommendations
by Andrew Caillard MW
2018 is an exceptional year. The Bordeaux whites and sauternes are very good, but from an Australian perspective the excitement is all in the red wines. All sub regions produced examples of really good wines, but some performed better than others. Generally the very top estates made exemplary wines illustrating that the human factor and wealth can have a major impact on terroir! Over the last few weeks I have tasted around 350 to 400 wines, sometimes in large format forums like the UCG tastings or at various Chateaux. Nowadays it is difficult to taste the wines blind but density of colour, aromatic freshness, tannin density and overall balance are obvious indicators. In some instance I have tasted wines a few times enabling me to cross reference.
The weather until a few days ago has been clear with bright sunshine, warm days and a cool breeze. Temperatures have fallen now with more cloud cover and intermittent rains. While driving from Sauternes to St Emilion we drove through light hail but not enough to cause too many problems. In two weeks we have seen dormant vineyards and trees spring to life. The growing season is starting a touch early and of course people are worried about the chances of frost. After the devastating frost events of 2017 and the challenges created by hail and mildew during 2018, there is a feeling that climate change may well have an unpredictable impact on future Bordeaux vintages.
We have pretty tasted a good amount of primeurs wines now. As usual the vintage will be exaggerated. The growing season was near calamitous but long warm sunshine hours over summer cleaned everything up and allowed the grapes to ripen very really well. The colours, flavours, density and acidities are really impressive and as a consequence the vintage is generally quite exceptional. It is difficult to truly understand the overall crop losses as producers are understandably quite cagey. But they vary from almost nothing to less than a third. At Ch Climens in Sauternes Barsac I would estimate the crop being around 20% of the average. When one considers that this estate lost its whole crop in 2017 from frost, the shock must be keenly felt. Mother Nature has been particularly cruel of late. The narrative of the growing season will inevitably create a negative impression, but few people will remember the details in years to come. They will only remember the wine. For some people with long memories they believe the vintage is like 1947 or 1961. If this is the case, this is not just an exceptional vintage, this is something beyond the norm. An immortal year. The concentration, weight, and vitality of the wines are impressive. Despite the amazing tannin density, saturated colours and flavours, the wines are actually quite easy to taste, indicating remarkable balance and life.
In my opinion the strongest sub regions are Pauillac and St Julien – which have both produced wines of great consistency and classicism. They are powerfully expressive with pronounced ripe tannins and pure fruit flavours. The combination of better micro-climatic conditions, wealth and physical resources helped with the result. Ch Pontet Canet is an outlier because of its approach to biodynamic viticulture. It suffered terribly from mildew and has produced only a third of the crop. The wine is markedly different from wines like Ch Latour or Ch Pichon Lalande, but its overall buoyancy and richness of fruit is compelling. It also stands for something that is worthwhile and important.
I always think of Pauilac as being the reference for Bordeaux. Typically the wines are extremely expressive with pure cassis cedar aromas and fine grainy tannins. This year the wines are particularly dense and inky with plentiful graphite tannins. They are not at all sinewy or soupy and hence when the tannins settle down the wines will be exceptional.
There are many outstanding wines from Pauillac including Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, Ch Lynch Bages, Ch Batailley, Ch d’Armailhac and Ch Grand Puy Lacoste. The first growths Ch Latour, Ch Mouton Rothschild and Ch Lafite Rothschild are very impressive. Their second wines Les Forts de Latour, Petit Mouton and Carruades are also of very high quality.
Neighbouring St Julien has also performed very well. Ch Ducru Beaucaillou and Ch Leoville Lascases probably lead the pack but Ch Leoville Barton, Ch Leoville Poyferré, Ch Gruaud Larose, Ch Talbot and Close de Marquis are all exceptionally well made wines
St Estephe is variable. Some estates controlled the volume and consistency of tannin very well and made classical wines. These include Cos d’Estournel, Ch Montrose, Ch TronquoyLalande, Ch Phelan Segur and Ch Canon Segur. Other examples were in my opinion excessively brutish in structure. For those willing to keep the wines for a decade or two, many of them will eventually come
Margaux is also variable and does not always have the density of fruit to go with the tannins. Yet one of my favourite wines of the vintage is Ch Palmer which is magical. In fact I think it is the wine of the vintage. Ch Prieuré Lichine, Brane Cantenac, Giscours and Marquis de Terme were all good. Ch Margaux and Pavillon Rouge were of course well above the average.
Subregions Moulis, Listrac and Haut Medoc wines are all over the place yet there are some genuine highlights including Esmond de Rothschild’s Ch Clarke, Ch Cantemerle and Ch Beaumont.
Graves and Pessac Leognan have produced wines of varying quality yet again the very top Chateaux including Ch HautBailly, Ch La Mission Haut Brion and Ch Haut Brion have made impressive grand vins. Ch Smith Haut Lafitte has really moved up the hustings and has made a really good wine this year.
St Emilion is a fascinating tapestry of colour and movement this year making some truly outstanding wines. Ch Cheval Blanc, Ch Ausone, Ch Belair Monange, Ch Fourtet, Ch Figeac, Ch Canon and Ch Pavie have all produced wines of richness and impact. I also enjoyed Ch La Dominique and the Burgundian-like Tertre Roteboeuf. But there is more inconsistency on the flats and fringes of the region. However as is often the case the value can be found best with lesser names who have prevailed well. This includes a few wines in the nearby Cotes de Castillon which may represent good value.
Pomerol is more consistent than St Emilion but there is also some variability. Ch Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan, Ch Certande May, Ch Latour a Pomerol, Ch Gazin, Lafleur, Lafleur Petrus and Ch Trotanoy made really terrific wine but there were some instances where the wines were lighter in weight and probably less appealing. On reflection I think Pomerol vies for line honours. The wines are amazingly impressive with beautiful polish, suppleness and concentration. There are many instances where second wines have performed
2018 is not a very great Sauternes Barsac year and the quality is dependent on the producer and how much of the crop was picked before the rain and humidity finally arrived to promote botrytis in the vineyards. My clear favourite is Ch Climens. Although I always see it in parts, the end result promises to be outstanding. Rieussec, de Fargues and Lafaurie Peyragueyare are standouts.
As you will see from my tasting notes there are many great wines. This year it is going to be very hard to make a bad decision. Although the big names have made impressive wines there are stacks of lesser known or lower profile estates that have made promising young wines. Over the next year they will continue to evolve and mature in barrel, building more complexity and allowing the tannins to settle down.
As regards whether it is a great vintage, I think it is safe to say that it is a remarkable year with many very great wines made. In some ways it is a miracle year considering the challenges and disappointments of the growing season. Most observers will agree that the 2018 vintage, specifically the red wines, is in the same league as the greatest vintages including 2015, 2010 and 2009 etc. Some winemakers are also suggesting its very similar to 1947 or 1961.
But 2018 is also an atypical year – whatever that means these days. The weather patterns are more difficult to predict and no one can really second guess what God plans for this forthcoming season. Thankfully the predicted cold snap last night did not damage the emerging new growth. But the unseasonable warm start to the growing season and clear skies has everyone on edge
Andrew Caillard, MW