Hubert de Boüard of Château Angelus has reported a strong uptake for its 2012 en primeur offer, despite a 30% price increase in a sluggish campaign.
Hubert de Boüard of Château Angelus
Referring to the St Emilion estate’s promotion last year alongside Château Pavie to the top tier of Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’, de Boüard told the drinks business: “The problem was that we had to keep the price to show that something had happened, but of course everyone in 2012 dropped their prices.”
The decision by both Angelus and Pavie to increase prices significantly at a time when even the first growths of the Left Bank released at around a third cheaper than their 2011 vintage, sparked criticism from fellow producers and trade alike.
Indeed, de Boüard admitted: “At the beginning, for the first 15 days to one month, I was a little unsure.” However, he pointed to a delayed surge from the market, saying: “Now we have a lot of demand – we have sold 110% of what we expected. We produced 95,000 bottles and have sold 80,000.”
As for the customer base for these wines, de Boüard noted: “The Chinese market did not buy a lot of 2012”, before adding: “I am very happy to say that Angelus has been bought by Switzerland, Belgium, France, the US, UK – demand is everywhere.”
Presenting a selection of vintages as part of a series of fine wine events organised by Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London, de Boüard outlined the improvements he had implemented since taking over the estate in 1985 that had led to Angelus’ promotion.
Above all, he highlighted the estate’s “consistency of quality” today, noting that the judges based their classification decision on a tasting of 15 recent vintages.
“Step by step we have improved our reputation for the quality of our wine,” he remarked, stressing: “Selection in the vineyard was crucial. We used to pick over six days; now it’s six weeks. To make a great wine is not just terroir, it’s what you do with it.”
In order to make the most of the more selective picking, de Boüard has introduced a number of smaller 50-litre vats to the cellar in place of the 150-litre versions used previously.
Production levels have also shrunk to support this quality focus. “When I took over it was close to 200,000 bottles, now it is close to 120,000,” he confirmed.
In a similar vein, de Boüard noted that “of course” the proportion of second wine Le Carillon d’Angelus had increased during this time, with the label currently accounting for around 25,000 bottles.
While acknowledging regular offers “not quite every day” to buy Angelus, he concluded: “We are a family business and the brand is getting stronger.”