This small retrospective looks at Jean-Luc Thunevin’s and Murielle Andraud’s  Château Valandraud, which is unquestionably in the top handful of Château in the appellation. Created in 1989 when Jean-Luc and his wife, Murielle, purchased a tiny 0.6-hectare parcel on the upper plateau, the first release was in 1991 with just a tiny handful of bottles being released. They have since acquired additional parcels and production runs upwards of 1,000 cases today.

The Grand Vin today comes from a single vineyard located on the eastern side of Saint-Emilion that’s planted to 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon and other permitted varieties. This is a cooler terroir and the soils here are classic loamy clay and limestone. The final blend is always largely Merlot (close to 90%) with small amounts of both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the aging is in new French oak. The estate just finished construction on a new cellar in 2021, which will allow even more precision in the winemaking going forward.

This is a powerful, lavish, opulent style of Saint-Emilion that focuses on purity of fruit and texture, and despite its new oak elevage, it shows very little signs of oak with just a few years of bottle age.

As I hope the notes show, it ages beautifully, with the 2005 just now fully mature and the 2010 at the beginning of its prime drinking window. While the 1998 comes largely from different terroirs than the wine today, it nevertheless is still drinking beautifully today. In short, these are brilliant, singular wines that every Bordeaux lover needs to taste.

All of these wines were tasted at the Château in April 2022.

By Jeb Dunnuck
Founder & Wine Critic
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