It is not every day that Chateau Angélus releases a new wine; but yesterday was one such day – and what a wine it is, writes db’s Bordeaux correspondent, Colin Hay.
Hommage à Elisabeth Bouchet is a tiny-production cuvée that will only be released in the greatest vintages. The first release comes from the already almost mythical 2016 vintage. It is made from old-vine Cabernet Franc (or Bouchet, as it has always been known on the right-bank) from two small parcels in the South-West corner of the Angélus vineyard on the famous pied de côte (the foot of the slope). The vines themselves are of 60-80 years of age, drawing the intense minerality that characterises the wine from the clay-limestone and clay-scree-limestone terroirs on which they are planted through their profound root-systems.
The wine honours Elisabeth Bouchet, great-grandmother of Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, co-owner and CEO of Chateau Angélus – and it is inspired by a rather beautiful history. For it was to honour his beloved Elisabeth Bouchet that the vineyard of Angélus came to be so extensively planted with Bouchet (Cabernet Franc) by her husband, Stephanie’s great-grandfather, Maurice de Boüard de Laforest.
The 2016 was aged for 22 months in carefully selected and exceptionally fine-grained new oak from the Vosges forest so as not to mark the wine in any noticeable way. There are just 9 barriques of the 2016 and there will be just 5 of the 2018. Later vintages will be aged, at least in part, in larger volume foudres. No 2017 will be produced due to frost damage.
There are only 1200 bottles and a few larger format bottlings of the 2016, all offered in individual wooden cases. The wine was released on la place de Bordeaux yesterday (the 9th September 2021) through a very limited number of négociants. Given the clamouring for more volume from Bordeaux it would seem already to have sold out.
The wine was being offered in London to selected clients at £860 in bond for a single bottle.
Tasting note: Hommage à un Hommage
Angélus Cuvée Hommage à Elisabeth Bouchet 2016 (100% Cabernet Franc). It’s a shame that covetousness is a deadly sin. For this is a wine that I covet. It is simply spectacular. There is so much to admire here and so much to enjoy – the signature of the vintage and of this specific terroir; the crystalline beauty and focus of the fruit; the quality, subtlety and precision of the wine-making; the breath-taking elegance, finesse and sheer beauty of the texture; the very concept of the wine itself; and the perfect sense of harmony that arises from the interaction of all of these elements. This is the first vintage of this extraordinary wine and it is a complete and absolute triumph. Plump, fresh, crunchy blueberries, wild strawberries, a touch of mint, tapenade and a hint of truffle, Asiatic spices and a gorgeous saline minerality – and with so much more to come. There is wonderful focus, precision and direction to this wine. It engages immediately, captivates the palate, demands focus and attention and holds that attention literally for minutes as it very gradually tapers to an asymptotic finish. It is incredibly young, but already intensely beautiful. It is difficult to resist already, it will definitely outlive me and I suspect the 60-80 year old vines have produced a wine that will age for at least that long. A magical experience, a privilege and a perfect homage.