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.
Wow. This is really super polished with incredible length and intensity, offering blackberries and hazelnuts. Superb richness that is reserved and poised. Great length. Full-bodied, extremely long and exciting.
(97-98) points, JamesSuckling.com (April 2021)
Opaque purple-black colored, the 2020 Valandraud bursts with scents of crushed black plums, boysenberries and blackberry preserves, followed by hints of dusty soil, garrigue and clove oil. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers a lot of energetic, crunchy black fruits with a lively backbone and beautifully ripe, rounded tannins, finishing long and fragrant.
(95-97) points, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
This is excellent, broad-shouldered with ample depth to the brambled fruits, liquorice, cigar box spice, with a gorgeously saline finish. Chalky, grippy tannins keep tugging you back into the body of the wine. The tannic grip is helped by a linen rather than silk texture that stops things being overly smooth and instead adds depth and interest to the powerfully knitted body, as do white flowers on the aromatics as it opens. Good stuff. 100% new oak for 24 months. A yield of 49hl/ha. Thunevin has sold a 50% stake in Valandraud to the Lefevre family at Sansonnet (also the new owners of Villemaurine, so a busy year for them). Drinking Window 2029 - 2046
96 points, Decanter (May 2021)
Full, embossed bottle 1,360 g. Undated cask sample. 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 24 months in 100% new oak!
Lustrous blackish purple. Strong nose of charred meat. This is distinctive all right… Very intense, concentrated sweet purple-fruit flavours. Cassis compote? Chock-full of ambition though the acidity on the finish makes it a less comfortable drink than many of its peers. It seems all scrunched up with ambition with a rather drying finish. It may well flower beautifully eventually but it's at a much more embryonic phase than many of its peers. Rather Pavie-ish at this point. 15.5%
16.5+ points, JancisRobinson.com (April 2021)
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.