For eight generations, her family has run Château Angélus, one of the most famous estates in Saint-Émilion. At the head of the property since 2012, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal is not there by family obligation but to honour this prestigious wine heritage.
Walking in the footsteps of her father and grandfather at the head of the Angelus estate, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal has dreamed of it since she was 7 years old. This vineyard is her land, her blood," it has always flowed in my veins ".
Stéphanie’s family has been running the winery for eight generations. But it was not the weight of heredity that guided her choice to take over the management of the property. Nor a particular attraction for the taste of wine, which she already knew well from drinking "a sip every Sunday since I was young, as my father recommended, to educate my palate!" At 7 years old, Stéphanie was, above all, fascinated by the magnetism that this terroir exerts on her. "My grandfather spoke to me with passion about the history of Angélus, of the generations which succeeded one another to transmit this heritage, of the values of the land… I in turn wanted to take care of this exceptional heritage, and to honour it ".
Heredity Is Not Enough
At 30, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal honoured her promise as a little girl and took over the management of the estate. First supported by her father and her uncle, she then took up the torch alone.
Despite her determination, her lineage and her qualifications - an experience of 7 years in finance in London and a diploma from the prestigious “Wine & Spirit Education Trust” (WSET) - the young woman still met some reluctance on her arrival. “My appointment gave rise to doubts, mistrust, tests… Some of our customers and suppliers, unhappy with certain changes that I would introduce, told me that they were going to express their dissatisfaction to my father, adding that they “knew him very well”. I would then answer them with a touch of irony that I too knew him quite well!"
Horses and Robots Cross Paths In The Vines
After the consecration to the supreme rank, a title of 1er Premier Grand Cru Classé "A" (an honour shared only by 4 estates out of the 700 or so in the appellation), a series of 5 very successful vintages, the opening of gourmet restaurants and a hotel, the actions carried out by Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal quickly convinced even the most sceptical. Speeding up the transition to organic farming was also one of Stéphanie’s initiatives.
My challenge is to perpetuate the timeless dimension of Angelus, and for that I must make sure to find the right balance between respect for tradition and innovation. Perfect illustration in the vineyards, with the rather improbable tandem formed by animals and robots.
Rather than using tractors, which would always follow the same axes, I favoured in some of our plots, the work of horses to limit soil compaction. Their hooves never pass in the same place. At the same time, we have equipped the property with the latest generation of wine-growing robots that neither pollute nor compact the soil."
To achieve excellence, Stéphanie knows that she must face her doubts: “questioning seems essential to me in order to raise Château Angélus to the highest level, and as close as possible to perfection." The strength she needs to honour this commitment is drawn from her roots and the history of her land. “Among the innumerable founding stories and memories of the estate, there is one that particularly touches me. Out of love for his wife, my great-grandfather decided to change the composition of the wines. He has indeed increased the share of Cabernet Franc, to pay tribute to her maiden name, Bouchet, which is the local appellation of this grape variety. Since then, Angelus' fame is due to this high proportion of Cabernet Franc which brings both tension, but also a lot of freshness and elegance, while offering a lingering finish on the palate. "
My grandfather spoke to me with passion about the history of Angélus, of the generations which succeeded one another to transmit this heritage, of the values of the land… I in turn wanted to take care of this exceptional heritage, and to honour it.
The Bell, The Emblem Of The Estate
The vineyard takes its name from the sound of the bells coming from the surrounding churches, around the village of Saint-Emilion, which ring out throughout the estate when the angelus prayer is announced. The emblematic bell of the property still appears today on the labels of the bottles.
With thanks to Ergo Sum