Five Questions in Five Minutes: Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal of Château Angélus

Stéphanie De Boüard Rivoal

Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal is the eighth generation of the de Boüard de Laforest family to manage Château Angélus.

As one of the largest and most prestigious Saint-Emilion Bordeaux estates, Château Angélus wines enjoy the status of Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Year after year, their wines are renowned for their richness, density, elegance, pedigree, purity and freshness.

It was the Château Angelus 1982 which featured in the film Casino Royale in 2006, when James Bond meets Vesper Lynd. Seen by hundreds of millions of viewers, it has become an iconic film appearance for wine. I caught up with Stephanie, the Managing Director, over lunch at the Connaught (where else?) to mark the launch of the Château Angélus 2012.

You’re a young woman who has spent some time working in financial services in the City before returning to your family estate. Which is more difficult, working in financial services or working with your family?

The challenges and difficulties that I meet working in our family estate are totally different from the ones I faced while working in finance.

As one can imagine, managing your family estate and being in charge of continuing a history which started over 200 years ago implies lots of responsibilities.

Angélus has reached the highest status in Bordeaux wines, therefore the competition is extremely tough. We must make every effort to keep up the level of excellence which our customers are used to, and are expecting us to maintain.

My position at Angélus is more sensitive, since the outcome of my decisions have an impact on the whole family and on the future of our long history. The stakes and challenges are more important and easier to quantify in a short period of time, as well as the risks that I carry, since I have near full control and management of the estate.

Let’s talk about wine. I was lucky enough to try your 2006, 2007 and 2011 Château Angélus's over lunch. If I had to buy one, what would you recommend?

This will depend on the style of wines you fancy, the type of food you'd like to match, and the budget you have. 2007 is ready now; it is extremely fine and elegant with very smooth tannins. 2006 has more complexity, length and density and needs to be decanted before pouring. 2011 is a very delicate wine that has a beautiful purity of fruit, as well as freshness and sense of precision.

I'd suggest you go for a mixed case of 2006, 2007, 2011, starting with 2007 and 2006, while leaving 2011 ageing slowly in your cellar!

I understand that your wines do very well in China and Hong Kong. Why do you think that is?

Angélus has established a strong reputation and distribution all over the world, with no exception. However, even though there is a real dynamism and strong demand in Asia, this should not overshadow the fact that Angélus is a worldwide brand. It is sought after in all important wine markets.

Angélus isn't new in Asian markets, as my father was one of the pioneers in the mid '80s. He travelled around China to establish the culture and interest in Bordeaux grands vins amongst top knowledgeable and passionate Chinese wine drinkers.

The consistency and quality of the wines reflect the fact that it is the fastest growing market, with Angélus being considered one of the finest wines.

Also, Angélus is fondly known in Asia as 'golden bell' which can be pronounced easily and has the meaning of prosperity.

Nobody will be surprised to see that most luxury brands have recently increased their market share and prestige in Asia.

This year you’ve launched Château Angélus 2012 – what makes this such a special vintage?

This special bottle for Angélus 2012 has been designed for several reasons:

  1. 2012 is the first vintage of Angélus classified "A"
  2. Arrival of the eighth generation (myself) as the head of the estate.
  3. Despite the global media perception of it, I strongly believe that on the right bank of Bordeaux, 2012 is a truly great vintage where the superb quality of the merlot grapes enhances the delicate cabernet franc grapes that gives Angélus its own particular style.

Around 80 percent of the harvest has been released on the market and sold en primeur. All the bottles will have this special design, from the single bottle size through to the imperial. Indeed, our recent policy is to keep more stocks of older vintages for the cellars of our estate.

Finally, I have a bit of spare cash and am able to afford a case. When do I drink it, and what do I pair it with?

I strongly advise our beautiful '89 and '90, assuming you have found some bottles somewhere (if so, you're lucky). Otherwise I would pick 1995, 1998 or 2001, which are beautiful vintages and are ready to be drunk now, but also have longer ageing potential.

There are many dishes I would consider pairing with the wine, but to select just a few, I would probably recommend a nice piece of free-raised veal, fresh pasta with truffle (black or white depending on your taste), a good free-range chicken from a small select farm, some matured Angus beef (or even better, some A5 Wagyu). Another alternative would be to have it on its own, as it offers so many of its own pleasures, or to pair it with a good cigar (my father particularly enjoys a glass of a mature vintage of Angélus with Cuban Robustos).

Thanks Stephanie, it’s been wonderful to speak to you, and good luck!