2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 11 – Angélus

2020 Bordeaux Report

Episode 11 – Angélus

2020 Château Angélus, Premier Grand Cru Classé A, Saint-Émilion

60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc

Estimated alcohol 14.5%

It is rare to find such pressure on a Grand Vin to perform as there has been on Angélus in 2020.  This pressure is both from within the operation, from the owners, winemakers and viticultural team who have been doing everything possible to raise this wine’s game further, but it has also come from Carillon and No3, its own family because they are so downright delicious in this vintage.  And when there is pressure, wines often tense up, becoming self-conscious, self-critical and reticent.  Not so Angélus, because this is one of the most polished performances of the vintage.  While the Merlot was looking great in the vineyard it was clear that Cabernet Franc was missing something and so they waited an extra three or four days and it became perfect.  With a degree or so less alcohol in the Cabernet Franc part of the blend, it was critical to allow this variety to reach its full aromatic potential in 2020.  The tannins are ripe here and the flavour is profoundly deep and resonant.  While Merlot provides the depth, Cabernet Franc, some of which was matured in large 30HL foudres to lessen the oak contact, has brought the magic in the form of spice, sensitivity, freshness and energy.  There is a vital acid thread here which keeps everything in check and it brings amazing refinement to the whole wine. 19+/20

2020 Carillon d’Angélus, Saint-Émilion (2nd wine of Angélus)

90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc

50% new oak

14.5% alc

3.6 pH

With a stunningly designed, new facility in which to make Carillon and also No.3, the quality of these two wines has become even more heightened and in 2020 Carillon takes flamboyance to a new level.  With smoky oak notes on the nose and obvious exoticism on the palate, this wine has a grand flavour and it shows a firm set of tannins, too.  Drawing on fruit from three distinct soil types there is a layering of flavour here which I have not seen before in this wine.  A controlled extraction has meant that alongside the deep, black fruit notes there is freshness and elegance, too. 17.5+/20

2020 No3 d’Angélus, Saint-Émilion (3rd wine of Angélus)

85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

1-year-old barrels

14% alc

3.5 pH

I have to take my hat off to this wine.  Of course, convention states that the third wine from a property, especially one which writes this so very clearly on its label, should live on a lower level than the second wine.  But in this topsy turvy vintage, I have awarded No3 the very same score as Carillon and this is because it is a stunning wine.   Coming from younger vines and some specific plots, and made with a pick early, drink soon mantra, this should be a light style with little gravitas, but it is as far removed from this image as one could imagine.  There is mesmerising purity here, a wonderfully sleek texture and thrilling brightness and freshness on the finish.  The perfume is unhindered by oak and it sings.  No3 does not demand anything from the drinker – it just gives you its heart and soul and this results in one of the most immediately delicious flavours of the vintage.  The gradual finessing of both Carillon and No3 is, to my mind, complete.  17.5/20

Scores – I have attached my scores out of 20 for each wine.  If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine that is in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (in accordance with the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ indicates a wine that should manage to make the long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.   A ‘?’ means that I am unsure about an element within the wine – this will be explained in my note.