I arrived in Bordeaux this week with Geoffrey Dean and enthusiastic Vin-X clients where we were welcomed by our local director, Renaud Ruer, as the region’s châteaux are in the midst of the 2015 harvest. We are here to get the first impressions of a vintage that is already being rumoured to be of better quality than the preceding four years and our initial focus is on some of the key wines of Saint Emilion.
Aiming to “start as we meant to go on” we headed from the airport to one of the region’s notable restaurants, La Terrace on the Château La Dominique estate, via the château itself where we were invited to view the harvest in full flow and tasted the first pickings.
Lunch at La Terrace was spectacular as usual as and the unusual architecture afforded not only superb views of La Dominique but also the vineyard of iconic neighbour, Château Cheval Blanc. La Dominique 2007 perfectly complemented the fois gras, duck and veal lunches we consumed and a sublime Sauternes, Château Coutet 2006, beautifully matched the chocolate torte!
Fortified, we departed La Dominique and headed for Château Angelus, one of Saint Emilion’s four Premier Grand Cru ClasséA estates owned by Hubert de Boüard. We were warmly welcomed by wine maker Emanuelle Fulchi, Cellar Manager Jean Dugos and Laurent Benoit, Head of PR. Having discovered on a previous visit to Angelus that, during the refurbishment of the Château’s signature bell tower, a 21st Century addition had been the ability to program the bells to tone a number of key melodies, I was delighted to once again be welcomed with our own national anthem!
Our resident wine columnist, Geoffrey commented “the 10million euro refurbishment has resulted in a spectacular development of the château and it was a real privilege to meet the Angelus management team, especially at this most important time for the estate.”
We were escorted to one of the tasting rooms where we sampled the 2011 vintage, which is maturing wonderfully; its current target for drinking is from 2022.
The focus of course was on the current vintage, and for fun we were invited to taste day 1 and week 1 grape juice – embryonic 2015 – our clients were thrilled to witness the very beginnings of a brand new vintage at one of the world’s most famous wine estates.
The Angelus team were evidently excited about 2015, and explained that the exceptionally brilliant weather, with what little rain they have had falling at night, meant that there has been no dilution of the grape concentration and there have been no disease pressures at Angelus. Conditions for Saint Emilion and Pomerol have been as near to perfect as you can get, the regions having enjoyed three times as much sunshine as in 2013, creating wonderful ripeness. They are currently in the process of picking the Merlot – but there is no rush, they are making the most of the perfect conditions and Cabernet Franc is being held to optimize on the good weather. Certainly, Mr De Boüard’s team are quietly confident about 2015.
With an evening ahead sampling more of the estate’s great wines at Château Angelus’s gastrononic restaurant with family member and Executive Manager, Stephanie de Boüard-Rivoli, we travelled through the neighbouring vineyards to the magnificent regional capital of Saint Emilion, having enjoyed a spectacular start to our 2015 harvest tour.