Château Valandraud 1er Grand Cru Classé B is a wine from vintners Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud. Upon his transition from wine merchant to winemaker in 1989 (when the pair purchased a small patch of vines in St-Émilion), Thunevin became known as a ‘bad boy’ of Bordeaux, creating boutique styles in boutique quantities.
This wine is powerful and juicy, rich in black fruit with inky concentration and an esoteric swagger. It is classic, but with attitude. Aged in 100% new oak, with plenty of potential for extended aging.
92-94/100 Robert Parker Jr. Notes of chocolate, espresso roast, Asian plum sauce, blackberries and toasty oak are found in this opulent, rich, powerful 2011. Jean-Luc Thunevin has done an exemplary job in getting the finest material into this vintage of Valandraud. This full-throttle St.-Emilion should drink well young and last 10-15+ years.
16.5/20 Julia Hardy MW, Jancis Robinson. Purple coal. Intense black fruit to the fore. Savoury and oaky on the palate but the depth of fruit stands up to it here. Very fresh acidity and a big beast but all just about in balance if you like big big wines.
92-95/100 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator.Very enticing, with deliciously bright plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit pushed by ample spice, but stays well-integrated through the juicy finish. Offers lovely mouthfeel and length, with latent power in reserve.
17.5/20 Jmaes Lawler MW, Decanter. A richly flavoured and powerful offering from the Thunevin team. Deep, saturated colour. It has ripe, dark extract, a sumptuous flavour and aroma and it's firmly structured for ageing.
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.