Hubert de Bouard has said he expects the amount of Cabernet Franc in the flagship wine of Chateau Angelus to gradually increase in the next few years, partly because of the benefits it yields during ageing.

Chateau Angelus

Hubert de Bouard described his admiration for Cabernet Franc during a recent vertical tasting of Chateau Angelus wine in London. He added that he was looking to ‘increase it step by step’ in the final blend of the St Emilion estate’s first wine.

He highlighted the 2012 Angelus vintage, which contained 45% Cabernet Franc versus 55% Merlot, as an example of what Cabernet Franc can do – describing the variety’s contribution to the wine as ‘like cashmere in the mouth’.

Merlot was around 60% of the blend in most of other vintages in the tasting, which encompassed 2000 and then 2005 to 2012 inclusive. Only 2010 equalled 2012 for Cabernet Franc levels.

Angelus has 15 hectares of Cabernet Franc, of which 10ha are more than 65 years old. ‘It needs to be at least 25 years old before it can give great wines,’ said de Bouard, who also acts as a consultant to other Bordeaux estates and wineries in several other countries.

Bordeaux’s ‘most difficult’ grape

‘It is the most difficult grape in Bordeaux, because it is sensitive to mildew and is fussy about exactly the right amount of clay in the soil, needing no more than 15% and not less than 10%,’ he said.

Despite the challenges, de Bouard believes that Cabernet Franc gives his wines ‘freshness, spice and a long finish’. He said he dislikes over-ripe Merlot, which ‘has a maximum of ten years then the wine is brown and dead, whereas Cabernet Franc helps with ageing’. He cited Cheval Blanc 1947 as evidence of this.

De Bouard added that he also prefers to ferment Cabernet Franc in concrete due to its thermal inertia. The grape is very sensitive to temperature changes, he said.

Chateau Angelus blends for the wines tasted:

  • 2012: 55% Merlot 45% Cabernet Franc
  • 2011: 60% Merlot 40% Cabernet Franc
  • 2010: 55% Merlot 45% Cabernet Franc
  • 2009: 60% Merlot 40% Cabernet Franc
  • 2008: 58% Merlot 42% Cabernet Franc
  • 2007: 62% Merlot 38% Cabernet Franc
  • 2006: 62% Merlot 38% Cabernet Franc
  • 2005: 62% Merlot 38% Cabernet Franc
  • 2000: 60% Merlot 40% Cabernet Franc

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Written by Caroline Gilby MW