Chateau Angélus, St. Emilion
I had the honour and privilege of a visit and tasting at Chateau Angélus in St. Emilion, one of four Chateaux in the Premier Grand Cru Claseé ‘A’ Classification. They were awarded this elevated classification in 2012, which is re-evaluated every 10 years. I would consider St. Emilion to be one of the more progressive appellations when it comes to French wine laws.
I was hosted by the Public Relations director Laurent. He was very at ease and made me feel comfortable and welcomed. He started the tour outside the main entrance of the Chateau which was constructed in 2012 – 2014 and explained the symbolism of the bells. Hundreds of years ago the bells would chime three times a day and this is when workers would stop and take time for prayer. You see these bells at the top of their Chateau and of course on their wine label. In today’s age, guests are treated to a special greeting by the bells, including myself. Laurent had the ability to chime ‘O Canada’! It took me a moment to clue in that it was my anthem. I was in awe that I was standing at this prestigious Chateau and given such a reception. See youtube video link below.
One of the interest of mine is when I visit a winery is to learn about the multi-generational involvement of family, being wine making or management. Chateau Angélus has the success of eight generations with a youthful future ahead.
It was difficult to get the portrait of all eight generations in this photo, but I would like to bring attention to Stephanie Boüard de Laforest in the middle (wearing white). She is 33 and co-manages the winery with her father (bottom left). Her father went to Oenology school in Bordeaux and introduced Angélus to modern wine making technique, while respecting the past traditional practices of his Uncles (far right).
My visit to Chateau Angélus was during the 2015 harvest and extra help has been brought in from South Africa, Spain and other parts of France. After a careful hand selection of perfect berries, the winemakers implement their recipe for cold stabilization and fermentation, making use of oak fermenters, stainless steel or concrete vats. I had the pleasure of tasting some partially fermented merlot from one of the vats. It was electric on the palate from the CO2, dense and rich with colour in the glass.
My visit with Laurent concluded with a tasting in a private salon of Chateau Bellevue 2012 and Chateau Angélus 2011. Bellevue is a part ownership located on the other side of the road, facing the main winery. The terroir is part of a large, south facing, natural amphitheater. The soils are a base of limestone with a mix of clay in the middle and sand at the base. Chateau Angélus vineyard is composed of 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Laurent and I didn’t get into too many typical descriptors of the wine. Instead we savoured its balance, texture and enjoyed with gratitude.