Château Angélus
Decanter|January 2022
With high-profile associations including a high-grossing film franchise and various Michelin-starred restaurants, Château Angélus clearly enjoys being in the limelight. But what’s the story behind this acclaimed St-Emilion estate and its distinctive label?
JANE ANSON

Moneypenny, James Bond, Q. Not a bad trio for your wine to share the screen with in its latest cameo. I’ll try not to give too many spoilers if you haven’t yet seen No Time To Die, but I don’t think it gives too much away to say that Bond can’t resist swiping two generous glasses of Château Angélus (2005, although you don’t see the vintage on screen) for himself and Moneypenny from a bottle that Q had carefully opened for his date later that night. This is the third Bond film in which Angélus has made an appearance; the 1982 was drunk by Vesper Lynd and Bond on the train to Montenegro in Casino Royale, while the 2005 vintage can be spotted in Spectre.

The association with Bond has taken the already-famous label – pale yellow, distinctive black writing surrounding a golden bell – to an audience of billions worldwide. So far, so clever product placement. But the bell, as with so much of the story of this wine, is not just smart marketing but an authentic symbol of the roots and location of the winery itself. It has been on every Angélus label since the 1945 vintage, and is a reference to the bells that you can hear from this spot – on the northwestern edges of St-Emilion. Here, in the biggest of the communes that surround the town, to its west, there are records of vines growing as far back as the 12th century.

The vines are on south-facing slopes that follow a natural amphitheatre shape, from where you can hear the ringing bells of three neighbouring church towers – belonging to the Mazerat chapel, St-Martin-de-Mazerat church and the main St-Emilion church. Even the name Angélus is a reference to these bells ringing out the call to the Angelus prayer, which used to punctuate the working day in the morning, noon and evening.

There are very few family-owned estates in Bordeaux that have been in the same hands since before the French Revolution. Still fewer that have gone on to become classified châteaux in Bordeaux rankings – on either bank, Leftor Right. And yet Château Angélus has been owned by the Boüard de Laforest family since 1782, when Jean de Boüard de Laforest bought a plot of vines in St-Martin-de-Mazerat. In 1795, Jean’s daughter Catherine married Charles Souffrain de Lavergne, whose family had a plot of vines in the same village, and the couple moved to Mazerat.

The estate at the time was known as Château Mazerat, and continued to be known under that name until the early 20th century, when a neighbouring property, Clos de l’Angélus, was bought by Maurice de Boüard de Laforest, who had inherited the Mazerat estate. The new name was used as an alternative to Mazerat at first, then for the whole estate from 1945.

Château Angélus: the facts

Founded 1782

Owned by Boüard de Laforest family

Director Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal

Varieties planted 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot

Estate 52ha: 27ha for 1GCCA Château Angélus; 25ha for second wine Carillon d’Angélus and No3 d’Angélus

Vinification New cellars in St-Magne-de-Castillon

Other The family also owns 20ha in Castillon, used for Tempo d’Angélus (first vintage 2021)

Today run by eighth-generation Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, Angélus has been a premier grand cru classé A of the St-Emilion ranking since the 2012 vintage. It’s a property where things have moved fast in recent years – because of its promotion in the ranking, but also due to a host of new viticultural techniques, and stunning new cellars that were built by craftsmen known as the Compagnons du Tour de France, using techniques that date back to the Middle Ages. It’s also seen a significant expansion in its footprint of vines, today standing at 52ha. This makes Angélus one of the biggest properties in the appellation, although at its heart are the 27ha of classified vines surrounding the main château building.

STYLISTIC DEVELOPMENTS

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM DECANTERView All

My top 20 South American Bordeaux blends

Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have a shared formula for fine wines, taking inspiration from the Bordeaux tradition. These wines are excelling today, thanks to increasingly refined winemaking methods and exceptional vintages

10 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

2019 revisited Bordeaux in bottle

After tasting more than 800 newly bottled 2019 wines, Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent is full of praise for the vintage’s consistent and expressive wines, with successes on both Left and Right Bank

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

Southern Rhône 2020

Following on from the northern Rhône 2020 report in our last issue, we delve into the year’s southern Rhône releases, based on a tasting of more than 1,200 wines. This vintage’s wines should be quite accessible when young, and there are some particularly noteworthy whites

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

South African Sauvignon Blanc 10 top producers

Sit up and take notice: South Africa is blazing a trail in the New World, making site-expressive Sauvignon Blanc. The local winemakers’ respect for their terroir has seen a growing number turning out Sauvignons that speak confidently of their origins. Here are 10 names to watch

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

FIVE OF THE BEST IRISH WHISKEYS

Popular with drinkers around the world, Irish whiskey has experienced mixed fortunes in the past and the category nearly died out altogether a few decades ago.

2 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

The Algarve

Its year-round sun and dramatic coastline mean it’s already a much-loved beach holiday destination. But this southern Portuguese hotspot is upping its game, providing plenty to tempt wine lovers inland for a taste of something different

8 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

THE JUNIPER HUNTERS

A small number of British distillers are choosing native juniper rather than popular imported European options to make their gins

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

Judy Joo's Ultimate KFC

This spicy Korean Fried Chicken dish features in a new book celebrating female chefs on the British food scene. We’ve matched it with wine styles that can take the heat

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

My life as a personal wine consultant

It isn’t a job you’ll see advertised, so what does it take to become one? Right place, right time? Experience, qualifications, hard work, connections? All of those and more, it turns out

8 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

A heavy price

Making glass bottles lighter is an easy way to reduce wine's carbon emissions - yet it remains a weighty issue for the industry, with many producers yet to make changes

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022