Hubert de Boüard of Château Angelus who famously and controversially increased prices by 30% for the 2012 en primeur offer, can feel rightfully self-satisfied as an excellent uptake has been experienced.
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.”
Both Château Angelus and Château Pavie were promoted 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.”
Both Angelus and Pavie took the decision to increase prices substantially, whilst even first growths of the Left Bank released at around a third cheaper than their 2011 vintage, this resulted in some inevitable criticism.
De Boüard spoke out regarding the customer base for the wine, stating that: “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.”
De Boüard outlined the improvements he had made at the estate since taking over in 1985, resulting to the Angelus’ promotion.
“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.”
To complement 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.
It was also noted by de Boüard 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.