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Bordeaux 2020: Château Angélus et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

There is no doubt that the de Boüards really know what they are doing across their portfolio of family owned properties on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Château Angélus, managed by Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal backed up with the winemaking savoir-faire of father Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, has never made better wine. This last decade has been an extraordinary one for the property. Fabulous wines have been made here in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. Their 2020 looks to set be impressive too. It has freshness, power and remarkable balance. Stephanie compares it to a blend of the 2018 and 2019 vintages. Elsewhere in St Emilion, the de Boüard’s Grand Cru Classé, Château Bellevue, which makes super plush wine every vintage it seems, has succeeded yet again. Château Daugay also impresses this year. The de Boüards are also making remarkable wines in Lalande de Pomerol at Château La Fleur de Boüard, including the exceptional Le Plus Fleur de Boüard. I’ve been writing about this property for almost a decade and 2020 looks like another promising vintage here. Over in Montagne St Emilion, Coralie de Boüard continues to make exciting wine at Château Clos de Boüard. Again, this looks like a wine to consider in 2020. It was impressive in 2019 too.

Stephanie de Boüard-Rivoal describes the vintage at Angélus sublime, with magnificent weather in September which provided great conditions for the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc. They compare the growing season to 2018. The first period of the growing season was tricky with heavy rain, which meant there was pressure from downy mildew. The second half of the growing season was much drier, very dry in fact, and hotter. Given the water reserves from the first half of the season, however, these drought conditions were ameliorated and no hydric stress was reported. Given the high proportion of clay in the vineyards, these soils have the ability to be water retentive. The harvest was conducted in a short two-week period, before the end of September rain for both the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc. This was a very early harvest, the earliest in twenty years at the property. Stephanie sees it up there with 2018 and 2019 – a combination of both – perhaps, she believes, the best of the three.

2020 Château Angélus is undoubtedly a brilliant wine. It shows terrific harmony and finesse. It does not feel so outwardly powerful as the 2019 did at the same stage or as outright coquettish as the 2018. It does show the most terrific balance however and, given this, it is likely to offer immediate pleasure and also last the long haul. The down side here is that Angélus is now priced out of the reach of most of us. The 2020 was recently released at around £250 a bottle en primeur in the UK.

Both Carillon d’Angélus and Number 3 d’Angélus are impressive in 2020. They come from an eighteen hectare mosaic made up of three terroirs. First, a five hectare plot on sand and gravel near Château Cheval Blanc and Château Figeac. Second, a six hectare plot up on the limestone plateau around St Emilion itself. Thirdly, plots totaling around seven hectares which border the Angélus vineyards. In the past couple of years the wines here have also benefitted from a state-of-the-art new winemaking facility which I think has also enabled more precision in the cellar, notably around tannin management. There is much more focus now to Carillon and succulence to the tannins.

Carillon d’Angélus is certainly very good in 2020. It follows on from good wines in 2018 and 2019. The wine is lush and perfumed. It should give immediate pleasure but has the structure and freshness to age well. Number 3 d’Angélus is made up from young vines from Carillon’s diverse terroir. It is a pretty young thing that you could easily drink now.

Below are detailed notes and scores on these wines, alongside notes, scores and thoughts on other wines in the immediate de Boüard circle. They are based on samples flown to the UK for tasting in late April. Hope you find them useful.

Number 3 d’Angélus, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2020

Deep at centre; purple red; looser at edge; briary and blackberry notes; fruit driven and has lots of fun; also a savoury aspect too which is attractive [from Carillon young vine plots]; very attractive already; sweet entry; nicely spicy and briary notes; some undergrowth; has freshness and zap though; real bounce here. Nice to drink. Zappy and refreshing style. Elegant and a delight. [85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14% alcohol, 3.5 pH]. Drink 2023-2030. 89-91+

Carillon d’Angélus, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2020

Deep centre; purple edge; closer to rim; legs; lush; more blackcurrants; plums; very focused and layered with very attractive oak edge; polished and seemingly plusher than usual; savoury aspect too; deep and layered though; ripe and deep; plenty of extract here but super refined and polished; precisely made; supple tannins; has extract and wood tannin to resolve. Oaky note on the finish with chocolate and mocha notes on the end. Impressive Carillon. Oak needs to integrate [it will] and this looks very promising. [90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 14.5 alcohol]. Drink 2025-2040. 92-93+

Château Angélus, Premier Grand Cru Classé Group ‘A,’ 2020

Opaque but fresh purple at edge; colour tight to rim; blackcurrants; baskets of black fruits; very layered and has real density; creamy; lovely purity; plums; damsons; savoury note; has minerality on the palate; suave; very harmonious and wonderful balance; hides the weight; real lightness of touch; has freshness and bounce too; lovely wine and very nicely balanced. This is a brilliant follow up to their 2019 and continues an extraordinary run of form here at Angélus. [40% Cabernet Franc, 60% Merlot, 14.5% alcohol]. Drink 2026-2045. 97-98+

Other St Emilion properties

Château Daugay, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2020

Mid depth; vibrant at edge; less deep than Bellevue tasted side by side; stalky, spicy briary aromatics; red fruits; strawberry tones; some schist and spicy notes; opens up well; nicely done; lovely entry; perfumed; textured; like this; has amplitude; freshness on the finish. Spicy and savoury on the end. Caressing exit. Drink 2024-2035. 90-92

Château Bellevue, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2020

Deep and dark; saturated look; glossy; vibrant purple at edge; colour tight to rim; deep and attractive; very polished and complete; violets; purity; wonderful plums; spices beneath; creamy entry; a beauty this; so nicely handled; the purest fruit; perhaps lacks a tiniest bit of middle but this might just be because this is misleadingly easy; lovely wine; soft finish; think 2019 might have been a fraction better but this works very well indeed. [100% Merlot]. Drink 2025-2040. 92-94+

Montagne St Emilion

Dame de Boüard, Montagne St Emilion, 2020

Deep and dark; vibrant purple at edge; briary fruits; spices; undergrowth; some pain grillé tones; emphasis on the sweet briary fruit; enticing; some savoury notes; blackcurrants; easy and forward; spices on the palate; has some minerality; but this has lots of joyful black fruits; cherries and spices; soft finish. Some spicy undergrowth and earth notes. Works really well. Very appetizing. Could drink this now. I am. Drink 2023-2028. 88-89+

Château Clos de Boüard, Montagne St Emilion, 2020

Closer to the rim; deep and dark; vibrant at edge; legs; deep; denser; black fruits; has gravity; oak; real ball of ripe plummy fruit on the nose; has density; some minerality; lots of fruit; this has density and structure; loads going on in this fascinating Montagne St Emilion; has plenty of extract and matter; and a solid finish. Chunky but lots of structure and fruit. Drink 2024-2032. 90-91+

Lalande de Pomerol

Le Lion de La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande de Pomerol, 2020

Deep and dark; vibrant purple red at edge; ripe red and black fruits; bit of a medley; some tar; sweet entry to the fruit; some strawberry and raspberry notes; nice texture here; plenty in this; quite substantial; chunky finish; chocolate and mocha notes. Nice bite toward the end. Drink 2023-2030. 88-90

Château La Fleur de Boüard, Lalande de Pomerol, 2020

Deep and dark; vibrant purple at edge; layered and composed; plums and black fruits; opens up in the glass; layered black fruits on the nose; some liquorice and tar; really nicely polished wine with finesse; this never fails; salty tang; sweet fruit; delicious; wonderful precision to the wine; great finesse; lovely palate; creamy fruit that has concentration and precision. A star that shines brightly this in Lalande de Pomerol. Lovely stuff. Great length. Drink 2025-2038. 92-93+

Le Plus de la Fleur de Boüard, Cuvée Diana, Lalande de Pomerol, 2020

Dense on opaque at centre; unfathomably blackness; deep; oak on the nose; black fruits beneath; spices; black cheery; liquorice; tar; oak; deep; pain grillé notes; very concentrated; impressive; sweet entry to the fruit; a beauty; the old iron fist in the velvet glove; super wine again here; layers of fruit to the palate; tightly woven but at the same time the fruit has a real velvet quality to it. Great length. Very impressive and powerful wine. Drink 2025-2040. 94-96+

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