Chateau Angelus (Futures Pre-Sale) 2018
Blend: 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 99-100
Barrel Sample: 97-100
The grand vin, the 2018 Angélus, is magical juice in 2018 as well as possibly one of the wines of the vintage. While it shows a slightly more elegant style compared to past great vintages, it doesn’t lack for depth, density or richness. Thrilling notes of crème de cassis, toasted spice, graphite, incense, and tobacco leaf all flow to a full-bodied, powerful Saint-Émilion that has seamless tannins, a stacked mid-palate, no hard edges, and a finish that just won’t quit. Reminding me of an improved 2009, it’s going to be drinkable with just short-term cellaring and keep for 30 years or more. The blend of the 2018 is 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc that will spend 18-22 months in new barrels (and a small portion in foudre as well). Hats off to director Emmanuelle d’Aligny-Fulchi for keeping this estate at the top of the hierarchy in Saint-Émilion! Barrel Sample: 97-99.
Barrel Sample: 95-98
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.
Barrel Sample: 98 Points
Barrel Sample: 96-98
The vineyard of Chateau Angélus is situated in a natural amphitheatre overlooked by the three Saint-Emilion churches. In the middle of this special site, the sounds were amplified and the angelus bells could be heard ringing in the morning, at midday and in the evening. They cadenced the working day in the vineyards and villages, calling the men and women to stop their labours for a few minutes and pray.
Less than a kilometre from the famous Saint-Emilion bell tower, situated on the much-vaunted south-facing “foot of the hill”, Angélus has been the life work of eight generations of the Boüard de Laforest family.
In the first-ever classification of Saint-Emilion wines in 1954, Chateau Angélus was a Grand Cru Classé. Already at the time, it benefitted from a solid reputation, which helped it survive the Bordeaux wine crisis of 1973 and take part in the oenological renewal of the 1980’s. This was the context in which Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, a graduate oenologist from Bordeaux University, took advantage of this marvellous wine’s illustrious past, while being resolutely turned towards the future and launched and continued to implement an ambitious, innovative policy in favour of achieving excellence in wine growing and making.
Marked by its historic fortified village—perhaps the prettiest in all of Bordeaux, the St-Émilion appellation, along with its neighboring village of Pomerol, are leaders in quality on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. These Merlot-dominant red wines (complemented by various amounts of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) remain some of the most admired and collected wines of the world.
St-Émilion has the longest history in wine production in Bordeaux—longer than the Left Bank—dating back to an 8th century monk named Saint Émilion who became a hermit in one of the many limestone caves scattered throughout the area.
Today St-Émilion is made up of hundreds of independent farmers dedicated to the same thing: growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon). While always roughly the same blend, the wines of St-Émilion vary considerably depending on the soil upon which they are grown—and the soils do vary considerably throughout the region.
The chateaux with the highest classification (Premier Grand Cru Classés) are on gravel-rich soils or steep, clay-limestone hillsides. There are only four given the highest rank, called Premier Grand Cru Classés A (Chateau Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vineyards in the appellation are on flatter land where the soils are a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial matter.
Great wines from St-Émilion will be deep in color, and might have characteristics of blackberry liqueur, black raspberry, licorice, chocolate, grilled meat, earth or truffles. They will be bold, layered and lush.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.