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.
'The 2016 Valandraud is exceptionally beautiful. Powerful and explosive in the glass, the 2016 is superb today. Dark cherry, plum, mocha, spice, espresso, leather and smoke add layers of nuance. One of the things I like most about Valandraud in 2016 is the combination of fruit richness and vibrancy. Those elements make for a stunning, punchy Saint-Émilion that hits all the right notes. This is a fabulous showing from Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud. 2024-2041'
97 points, Antonio Galloni
"The 2016 Valandraud offers an exquisite bouquet of pure dark cherry and crushed strawberry scents mixed with pressed flowers and hints of spice. The medium-bodied palate is harmonious and silky-smooth, with supple tannin and just a touch of black pepper and cedar toward the persistent finish. Jean-Luc Thunevin has crafted a supremely gifted Saint-Émilion. 2022-2045"
96 Points, Vinous
"Incredible perfumes and beauty with ripe plum and berry character, as well as an array of spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Full-bodied, firm and silky with beautifully polished tannins. Rendered and defined. A wine with lovely, classy nature and personality. One of the best Valandrauds I have tasted at this stage. Try from 2026."
98 Points, JamesSuckling.com
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.