Note: Jean-Bernard Grenié, one of the owners of Château Angélus will visit with Michel Thibault Wines for a private function this month. Stay tuned for other winemakers and producers visits to learn how you can participate.
The narrow, two-lane road leading to Château Angélus is quite steep for a non-professional bicycle rider, but it became my favorite climbing challenge as I took a daily ride around St Emilion in the Spring of 2015.
The views from the Estate are gorgeous: To the left, winding around the hills is the road to Castillon-la-Bataille, a village famous in the hearts of the French as the site of their victory over the invading Brits and marking a final end to the 100-Years War. To the right, downhill is the town of Libourne, the trading center of the Right Bank, bustling with its street markets. On all sides, though, are vineyards: Château Quintus, recently purchased and upgraded by Château Haut-Brion; Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, famed for its kilometers of caves and tunnels leading all the way to the heart of the village of Saint-Émilion and its neighbor Château Beauséjour-Duffau-Lagarrosse, producer of the magnificent 2009 vintage, a 100-points rated wine by Robert Parker.
On top of the village and neighboring Angélus, is also Château Canon, one of the stars of the 2015 vintage, and also recipient of a 100-points rating for that year. Canon has enterprised huge renovations to its estate – both the château and vineyards – and the labor is now paying off. One always wondered why that property, owning some of the very best land in Bordeaux, could only make decent wines. We now know to look for the wines of Canon in the near future.
All this to say that Angélus’ neighbors are quite illustrious, and it is easy to see why the property is now a focus of wine professionals in Bordeaux.
The Château Angélus properties are led by Hubert de Boüard, a legendary figure on the Right Bank. His family’s roots in Saint-Émilion date from the late 1700’s and his ancestors lived on what is today Château Mazerat (another neighbor of Angélus). The Angélus property was acquired late though (in 1921) and through acquisitions has grown to what it is today: the actual Château and land, the property sitting above Angélus called Bellevue. In Lalande de Pomerol, there is another estate called La Fleur de Boüard.
Hubert de Boüard is credited with inducing malolactic fermentation in small vats, with fermenting in whole berries, ageing on the lees and harvesting and vinifying on a parcel basis. These techniques, as basic as they appear today, were not common in Bordeaux at the time. Hubert further improved the quality of the wines through green harvesting, lowering yield, picking grapes at perfect phenolic ripeness, optical sorting and an increased usage of new oak barrels.
The other two owners of Angélus are Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal (executive manager of the estate,) and her uncle Jean-Bernard Grenié, who has been at the helm of the property with Hubert since 1987. In addition to his duties at the estate, Jean-Bernard has taken the role of promoting the name and virtues of Château Angélus worldwide.
Angélus also gained notoriety through its association with the James Bond movies and of course the famous bells from the belltower (once important to help the villagers mark the time of day and also to alert them to danger). Extensive work to the property, such as the creation of new cellars and new offices have propelled the property to the forefront of all estates. Additionally, the group owns one of the very best restaurants and hotels in the entire Right Bank, Logis de la Cadène in Saint-Émilion.