Wine Words & Video Tape

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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: Angélus and all that

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_44152012 Angélus will most likely be remembered for its price

While it looks like a serious effort from Chateau Angélus in 2012 – plenty of perfume and layers to the nose and density and matter on the palate – the most newsworthy feature of Angélus this year will surely be its price. Announced yesterday, at 180 euros a bottle, Angélus is 30% up on their 2011 release. The subsequent indigestion on Twitter was palpable. Not to be outdone Chateau Pavie, the other recently promoted chateau that joined Ausone and Cheval Blanc in the Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ category, released at a matching price. This was a whopping 58% increase on their 2011 price. Should we laugh or cry? Only in the heady world of St Emilion’s top classification does this price perversity, where price is the guiding rule, make any sense at all, but the logic would surely be enough to make even Joseph Heller’s Captain Yossarian shake his head in disbelief. To anyone outside this St Emilion bubble, prices increases in 2012 are surely ridiculous. Just who will consider buying at these prices?

I didn’t get to taste Pavie. I usually get the chance to taste it blind at the event organized by the Groupement de Premier Grands Crus Classés de St Emilion. This year the event was cancelled with a number of members leaving the organization [Angélus, Cheval-Blanc, Pavie, La Gaffelière and Troplong-Mondot], though the remaining members I met seemed to want the joint tastings to continue. It’s a great shame and says a lot about the ill-feeling and bitter rivalry that exists between some of the very finest chateau on the right bank. The chance of tasting these wines blind [or otherwise] in quiet conditions was, for me, one of the highlights of the Bordeaux primeurs trip. And for their part the wines always looked better for it.

I’m not sure what future holds for this organization but I hope they find someway of continuing with it. This petty squabbling is in sharp contrast to the very effective and extremely well organized events managed by the Cercle de Rive Droite who show remarkable unity and a spirit of cooperation and joint endeavour. I do hope that someone can knock some sense into the former Premier Grand Cru Classé members to return to the fold, though the price hikes at Angélus and Pavie suggests an entirely different sort of unity – a case of them and us.

Nevertheless I was very grateful to Karine Devilder at the Groupement de Premiers Grand Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion for organizing a series of tastings at Chateau Pavie-Macquin, Chateau Canon-la-Gaffelière, Chateau Canon and with Jean-Luc Thunevin for Chateau Valandraud in the absence of the group tasting [and for the patience of the chateaux for my extreme tardiness – I was running two hours late by the time I finally reached Thunevin in his cellars].

I’ll post on all these visits shortly, along with a final St Emilion overview with all my notes taken at the UGC event at Chateau Soutard and at the Cercle de Rive Droite event at Chateau Barde-Haut. Below are notes taken on Angélus at their own event held at La Fleur de Boüard – that wine by the way is thankfully well priced for the quality [see earlier post on Lalande de Pomerol]

Chateau Angélus, Premier Grand Cru Classé, ‘A’

Deep and saturated look; violets, lush fruit but in check; layers; deep and saturated palate again with lots of layers and depth; spices, plums and freshness; lots of material and density and feels pretty serious on the finish. Lots of density and material. 55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. 92-94. 

Le Carillon d’Angélus, St Emilion Grand Cru

Deep and saturated; perfumed nose; real violet lift; quite tight palate with grip and chew and some oak. Grippy finish. 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc 89-91. 

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