Angelus ’12 Holds Value as Market Reflects ClassificationGuy Collins
Chateau Angelus’s 2012 vintage is holding its value even as most Bordeaux prices decline, after the French estate was promoted to the top-tier rating among Saint-Emilion wines.
Twenty-five cases of the wine sold for 1,680 pounds ($2,865) each on Liv-ex this month, maintaining the value from the earliest sales a year ago. The 2012 vintage is the first to be marketed since Angelus was promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classe A status alongside Chateau Ausone, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pavie.
The transaction price on June 5 was 2.4 percent higher than the 1,640 pounds at which two half-cases traded at the end of May and approached the 1,700 pounds a case that the same vintage fetched in April 2013, soon after the wine came to market.
The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top Bordeaux, is heading for its 10th straight month of declines after falling 3 percent last year and 10 percent in 2012. While the broader Bordeaux market is still weakening, collectors have shown appetite for wines from the right bank of the Dordogne such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol, often made in smaller amounts than left-bank clarets.
“In terms of quality, the 2012 looks to us not only a good wine but a truly great vintage that will be shown with time,” Stephanie de Bouard-Rivoal, managing director of Angelus and daughter of owner Hubert de Bouard de Laforest, said in an interview in London on May 30.
Angelus set the so-called en primeur futures price for Bordeaux merchants at 180 euros ($245) a bottle for the 2012 vintage, according to Liv-ex data. That compares with 138 euros a bottle for the 2011 vintage and 165 euros for the 2013.
Angelus sold wines from the critically acclaimed 2009 and 2010 vintages for 210 euros and 225 euros a bottle respectively, more than triple the price of the less-favored 2008.
“In terms of positioning, 2012 was a vintage where we at Angelus increased the price significantly whereas the market was dropping,” de Bouard-Rivoal said. “There was a very high demand in 2012 just after the classification.”
Angelus wine from 2012 was given a score of 94-96 on a 100-point scale by critic Robert Parker in an online tasting note, according to the eRobertParker.com website. He described it as “one of the superstars of the vintage” with “notes of barbecue smoke, graphite, charcoal, blueberries, blackberries, sweet cherries and forest floor.”
The 2011 vintage scored 94 points, while the 2008 garnered 93 points. The 2009 led the pack with 99 points, while the 2010 was rated 98 points by Parker.
“If you have to make a comparison for 2012 for Angelus, it would be very similar to an Angelus 1998 with all the finesse, the delicacy, but as well the opulence, the richness, the great balance between cabernet franc and merlot,” de Bouard-Rivoal said.
According to Parker’s note, the blend for the 2012 Angelus was 55 percent merlot grapes and 45 percent cabernet franc.
While Angelus 2012 has held its price relative to April last year, the slide in the broader Bordeaux market has continued, driven by investor resistance to pricing across the region of the 2013 vintage as well as diversification by collectors into other wine-growing areas.
Last month “saw no improvement in fine wine market conditions,” according to Chris Smith, a manager at The Wine Investment Fund in London, writing in an e-mailed market report. “The tail end of the 2013 en primeur releases did nothing to boost confidence, combining low quality with relatively high prices.”
Chateau Angelus owner de Bouard de Laforest’s family traces its connection with the vineyard back through eight generations, according to its website. The current property took shape during the 20th century, when the family’s Chateau Mazerat estate absorbed a neighboring plot of vines known as L’Angelus.