2023 Bordeaux En Primeur – Haut-Batailley, Angélus, Carillon d’Angélus & No3

UNTIL MY COMPREHENSIVE 2023 BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR REPORT IS PUBLISHED IN FULL, I WILL NOTE DOWN MY FAVOURITE EARLY-RELEASE WINES FOR YOUR PERUSAL

Haut Batailley 2023

Château Haut-Batailley (5ème Cru Pauillac)

71 Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot: 65% new oak for 16 months: 13.2% alc:

3.69 pH: 87 IPT

Haut-Batailley continues its new lease of life under Cazes (Lynch-Bages) ownership, and this is a highly polished, extraordinarily exuberant and marvellously glossy wine.  Deeply fruited, with a core of chocolate and black plums, this modern style has fine-grained tannins and a long, spicy finish with masses of traction coming from both fruit and oak.  Haut-Batailley has never looked so eye-catching and glamorous.   18+/20

Angelus 2023

Château Angélus (Saint-Emilion)

60 Merlot, 40 Cabernet Franc: 100% new oak with half of the Cabernet Franc goes into 30hl foudres for some of the Cabernet Franc: 14% alc: 3.6 pH: Harvest took place between 14 September with the first Merlot and 2 October with the last Cabernet Franc

I have noted the expression ‘Barolo-like’ a couple of times in this vintage because some of the wines combine the fruit intensity and power of the greatest Piemontese wines, coupled with their trademark unshakable acid line, all delivered in a medium- to medium-plus-weight chassis.  Strangely, a good few possess stunning wild cherry details, too.  While none taste like Barolo, some wines have the same silhouette and similar levels of exquisite and faintly masochistic drama.  Angélus does not have to work hard to engender drama in its wines; this 2023 is no exception.  There is a glorious wave of flavour here, luxurious, near-decadent and detailed, but it is the way it nods to the past with its sense of place and then fully embraces modernity and purity with its pristine fruit that makes it a compelling proposition.  All the action takes place on a pristine bed of bitingly clean acidity and ultra-fine-grained tannin.  ’23 Angélus then piles glisteningly pure Merlot onto this platform and glazes it with stunningly aromatic Cabernet Franc.  Benjamin Laforêt, estate research and development technical coordinator and the site manager of the Carillon winery, explained that he loved 2022 and 2023 Angélus equally and yet he would drink them on quite different occasions.  2022 would be for special dinners to be served with reverence and pomp, while the 2023 could be enjoyed with pals around the kitchen table.  Leaving aside the fact that he must have a reasonably generous staff discount, I completely understood Benjamin’s thought process.  The 2022 is admittedly a masterpiece and deserves respect and reverence, while this 2023 is more relaxed, open and gregarious.  And while they are both equally delicious, this 2023 has a character and charm about it that makes the most of the Angélus terroir and its fabulous Cabernet Franc fruit. Chapeau.  19+/20

Carillon d’Angélus (second wine of Angélus)

90 Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc: 60% new oak: 14% alc

This wine is carefully assembled from multiple plots with a single purpose in mind: to make as perfect a Carillon as possible.  In this regard, it is not trying to behave like a diminutive Angélus but a charming, layered and pliable Carillon.  So, it is immensely pleasing to discover that while some of the Angélus hallmarks are present, they are not castellated and built for a fifty-year life but are more open and engaging.  Carillon gives you Angélus DNA in a silkier and more forward-drinking format!  The flavour starts discreetly and then builds fruit intensity and toothsome, fine-grained tannin in equal measure. The anti-fruit elements seem mouth-wateringly bitter, teasing and cool, and they underpin a delightful crescendo of fragrant red and purple-tinged fruit.  There is stamina here, but this will not prevent this wine from drinking well after five or six years, thanks to its ripe cherry and pomegranate tones.  Thereafter, the savoury elements will propel this wine forward, and there is every chance it will make fifteen years with ease.  18+/20

No3 d’Angélus (from the Angélus portfolio)

85 Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc, 5 Cabernet Sauvignon: 14% alc

The Angélus team has called this vintage, ‘L’Affranchi’.  It’s not a word I had come across before, so I asked for the meaning and as often happens in French, there is no perfect English translation.  Literally, ‘The Freedman’, but free in French is libéré, and affranchi can mean means franked, like the post.  So, perhaps this fascinating word means escaping from the challenges of the weather and then stamped with an official certification of success.  No3 certainly tastes like an accomplished wine.  It has a silhouette of a classic claret from the 80s or 90s, and yet the fruit is devastatingly fresh and expressive.  It is juicy and delicious and will definitely drink from the moment it is bottled, perhaps even snatched off the bottling line.  It is a cunning advert for all things Angélus parading glorious Merlot, augmented by the Cabernets, and yet it won’t be drunk at dinner anywhere on earth because this is the definitive lunchtime red!  Good work – Angélus has given its three wines three distinct and relevant characters, and each performs perfectly to type.  17.5/20

MATTHEW JUKES SCORE CONVERSION CHART

As a wine taster and writer, I prefer you to read my words rather than focus on my scores.  This is why I rarely score wines unless I write an extensive report like this one.  I believe that scores taken from the context of tasting notes are essentially meaningless.  I describe my featured wines fully so you can imagine the aroma, shape and flavour.  Scores don’t help with this.  You will know that several different scoring methods are used in the global wine trade.  Most of my wine-writing colleagues have been tempted to the dark side, using the 100-point rating system.  A few, usually older types, cling to the venerable five-star rating.

As you know, I favour the 20-point score.  It’s how I was taught and dovetails nicely with how I judge wines.  For those unfamiliar with the 20-point scoring system, here is a table that translates it into various other formats.

20-point score100-point scoremedal5 star
20100perfect gold5
19.598/99gold5
1996/97gold5
18.595gold4
1893/94high silver4
17.591/92silver4
1789/90silver3
16.588high bronze3
1686/87bronze2
15.585bronze2
1583/84no medal1
14.581/82no medal1
1480no medal1