Traditionally wines from Bordeaux have garnered a certain high level of respect, esteem, fame and the price tag that goes along with that. In broad strokes, the Bordeaux Blend, historically referred to as Claret in the UK, is made up of a combination of the star players Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot alongside, at the winemaker’s discretion, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
Divided into the Left-Bank, which tends to be more Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, and the Right-Bank, which tends to lead with Merlot, there are certain appellations that even the newest wine fan will have heard of: Margaux, St-Emilion, Pomerol. These names often come with the reassuring confidence that a significantly lighter wallet can give you.
Chateau Angelus is one of the largest and most prestigious estates in already exalted St-Emilion, having Premier Grand Cru Classé A status. An eighth generational family run wine estate, at a time when family-run vineyards are sadly decreasing it is enormously important to owner Hubert de Boüard de Laforest that it stays that way. “I was born in the family house in the vineyard because my grandfather was a doctor” says owner Hubert de Boüard de Laforest. You can tell the vines and wines are in his very bones.
Chateau Angelus is now run by his daughter, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal giving Hubert claims more time to relax with his grandchildren, who start helping with the vinification process from the age of 10 or younger. This is not, however, a man for whom retirement seems an option. “Whenever he says he will slow down, he just keeps going” says his daughter Coralie “there is always a new project”.
One of these is Château La Fleur de Boüard, a 25-hectare estate in neighbouring Lalande de Pomerol, which is managed by his winemaker daughter Coralie de Boüard. Chateau Angelus was already an established success and Hubert wanted “to do something for my own family, for my four children”.
Lalande-de-Pomerol has been producing wines since the 12th century but often it has been regarded as a ‘poor man’s Pomerol’. However, Hubert and Coralie spent years investigating the region: “We needed great terroir”. And that is what they found.
Château La Fleur’s terroir is “very close to the top soil in Pomerol” and the result has been the creation of some truly stunning wines though Hubert is quick to assert “we need to respect nature, to be humble. It is not the human hand that is important, you have to just follow the terroir”.
Speaking of following, a number of other winemakers – “friends but competitors,” says Coralie – are trailing after these pioneers and buying up neighbouring land. “It is a good thing” Hubert says, “people will follow us and step by step we will make this one of the best appellations in France”.
Despite a heritage steeped in history the de Boürds are very modern in their approach to innovative winemaking, pioneering inverted tanks that utilise gravity to ensure gentle extraction and create refined, elegant wines.
Land is ten times the price in Pomerol but with such similarly excellent terroir, and their centuries-long expertise in winemaking, these Château La Fleur de Boüard wines are a new discovery for the consumer offering fantastic value and assured credibility. Teaming up with Mentzendorff who almost entirely work with top family-owned estates, this seems a natural partnership to bring these wines to the UK.
“2011 is the vintage we love right now” says Hubert. Chateau la Fleur de Bouard 2011 is a classic Right-Bank Bordeaux being Merlot dominant blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Juicy with careful acidity, the fruit is still fresh despite its age and the tannins are light and silky. It is a pleasure and offers terrific value.
The Le Plus de la Fleur de Bouard 2011 is another step up. Made from 100 per cent Merlot from vines as old as 70 years, which may only give two or three bunches per vine, this is limited edition by Mother Nature. The fruit is delicate but with a full-bodied freshness and structure from the careful use of well-integrated oak. A mouthful of cashmere: if this is what Lalande-de-Pomerol wines can be, expect to see more in any top cellar.