Chateau Angelus, a few wines, a commemorative bottle, and an interesting decision.

On Thursday, I trotted off to a press lunch with Angelus. I like Angelus, it’s a wine that even with its modern winemaking definitely retains its terroir, and ages effortlessly. In 2012, I did a vertical for Virtual Gourmet: Virtual Gourmet

There were several reasons why Angelus was on the road; a new generation was beginning to make its mark at the chateau (I believe ownership was already transferred in order to lessen the effects of the inheritance taxes). Then, of course, there was the promotion to Premier Grand Cru A in 2012 and over the last eighteen months, the winery had been substantially renovated, including a set of bells that can ring not only the Angelus, but also the American National anthem, and whatever else they program them to do. To commemorate all of these changes, Angelus has produced a special bottle for the 2012 vintage, a seriously gold encrusted one, reminding me a little of the Mouton 2000.

The wines:

2011 Angelus

Served before lunch. It’s a very understated wine, pleasant, reasonably aromatically and very well balanced, with a slightly longer than expected finish. It’s the kind of wine that will be surprisingly good in fifteen years. 89

2006 Angelus

Served with lunch at Jean-Georges, and while the wine service was exemplary, the food was not, poorly executed and fighting hard to obliterate the wines. A mustard sauce with the filet was so overwhelmingly mustardy that it took several minutes for the palate to re-adjust, and while the meat was perfectly cooked, the vegetables in a sort of ravioli were no longer hot, in fact barely warm, and rather chewy. Anyway back to the wine. The 2006s have been something of an insider’s vintage for some time. In the shadow of the brilliant 2005s, they are the well made, again displaying remarkable balance, layered flavors, plenty of mixed dark and red fruit and the beginning of a serious wood floor earthiness. 94

2007 Angelus

I suppose have I have never given 2007 too much credit, but this was quite a nice wine, and an interesting comparison to the 2011. It’s a little more dilute, but there is fruit, and again it has that hallmark balance, a result of fairly relaxed winemaking, as De Bouard did not overextract. Of course, the result is a wine that is not particularly concentrated, and the finish is relatively short, and, as it is still well north of $200 on Wine Searcher, it does not really work as an inexpensive introduction to Angelus. For this, I would probably go with a second label from a strong year. 86

Finally, I was intrigued to hear that Angelus had stopped making half bottles, as they did not age as well as the fifths. Personally, I like halves, in fact, I finished my last half of Angelus 1989 last year, and it was still lovely.

Mark, thanks for the notes. I enjoyed the 06 and 97 with Jean Bernard Grenie a year and a half ago. I enjoyed them both for what they were. I thought the 06 had a long and perhaps quite bright future ahead of it. Having the good fortune of sitting at Jean Barnard’s table, we discussed some of the earlier vintages and their proper drinking windows. I was dumbstruck when he told me the 96 could not possibly improve. I explained my recent experience with the 83 to shrugged shoulders and then went ahead and purchased the sole 66 available (which turned out to be outstanding).

Personally, I think the recent releases are overpriced. Your notes on the 2011 support this notion. I’m sad to add this chateau to the long list of properties now priced beyond my comfort zone for what they offer.

There has always been a slight sense at Angelus, that Hubert’s father could not have made great wine, because of the high yields and a reliance on very traditional winemaking. Some wines are pretty horrible, the 1964 Angelus was tainted by something weird, but there are some goodies. the 1966 you mention, a decent 1961 and great 1959, but I have had a 1961 that was stinker. Don’t know for sure, but there could have been more than one bottling.