Drawing from terroir and tradition, Château Angélus is one of a handful of Bordeaux wines with Premier Grand Cru Classé A status
The angelus bells that rang out morning, noon and evening from the three Saint-Émilion churches called the vineyard workers in this celebrated Bordeaux wine region to prayer. The ornate bell tower that crowns the tiled roofs of Château Angélus acknowledges this tradition, yet producing the chateau’s prestigious wines relies on far more than honouring the past. Family, terroir and a constant striving for perfection have made Château Angélus one of only four Saint-Émilion estates to be awarded Premier Grand Cru Classé A status.
CEO Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal is the eighth generation of her family to manage the vineyard and took over from her father Hubert de Boüard de Laforest in 2012, the same year that Château Angélus was promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé A status. “I think that promotion rewarded the already widely acknowledged fact that Angélus is one of the top estates in Saint-Emilion,” she says, “and has proven its ability not only to produce fine wines among the finest, but also its ability to produce great wines in challenging vintages, with a consistency that one rarely encounters.”
Astute and responsive management of the Angélus terroir, which stretches over nearly 67 acres, is the key to the wine’s consistently rich, full-bodied and velvety quality. The vines are planted on a naturally sloping amphitheatre, with clay-rich soil at the top of the slope making it perfect for cultivating Merlot. At the foot of the slope, sandy limestone conditions are ideal for Cabernet Franc, which makes up 46 per cent of the vines grown. These vines are more than 40 years old and produce relatively low yields of exceptional grapes.
“We have a much higher proportion of Cabernet Franc than most estates in Saint-Emilion,” explains Stéphanie. “Cabernet Franc brings freshness and minerality, while the Merlot gives our wine its roundness and elegance. The balance of both varietals gives Château Angélus its own particular style.”
Stéphanie’s father Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, who ran the vineyard for 30 years and now concentrates on its viticulture, made major improvements during his management such as lowering yields, using French oak barrels for ageing and picking later for riper grapes. He also ensured the vineyard operated sustainably for 25 years. Château Angélus is now working on being organic. “I think my father passed on to me his audacity, sense of innovation and profound dedication to our family estate,” says Stéphanie. “We constantly question ourselves about how we can go further. We are open-minded enough not to restrict ourselves in any way.”
In 2018, Angélus built a spectacular new cellar (100 per cent gravity) dedicated to the production of its second and third wines – Carillon d’Angélus, Saint-Emilion and No 3 d’Angélus, Saint-Emilion. There are further plans to extend these facilities to cope with increased production. The family, as Stéphanie says, is willing to benefit from the latest technology “as long as it helps make our wines even greater”.
Family, terroir, tradition and innovation – the carefully blending of these elements has made Château Angélus the producer of great vintages such as L’Indien, a late-picked gem from the autumn of 2014. “The Angélus philosophy is to continue to seek excellence while seizing opportunities to develop the family business. And of course, we are preparing the future for our family members to step in and contribute to our history at Angélus.”