Valandraud is painstakingly hand made in new, mainly Seguin Moreau, oak barrels by the guru of the garagistes Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle. First produced in 1991 (just 1900 bottles) with the help of Ausone's Alain Vauthier, this was the first of the "Garage Wines" of Saint Emilion and is still the benchmark by which all others are judged. Previously seen as an "outsider", Valandraud was awarded Premier Grand Cru Classé status in the 2012 classification of the wines of Saint Emilion.
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The 2016 Valandraud is inky black in color. It has a very pure, precocious bouquet of intense black cherries mixed with cassis and blueberry, but after a couple of minutes’ aeration it develops more refinement and harmony. The palate is medium-bodied, offering supple tannins, a fine bead of acidity, gentle grip and great precision on the persistent finish. Excellent. Tasted blind at the annual Southwold tasting. 2022 - 2045
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. Drink 2022-2045.
The 2016 Chateau Valandraud is a blend of 10% Cabernet Franc and 90% Merlot picked between 5 October to 15 October for the last Cabernet Franc, delivering 14.5% alcohol, less than in 2015. It has a very mineral-driven bouquet thanks to the limestone soils (please refer to the January 2017 issue of Wine Advocate where I examine the terroir of Valandraud). The palate is succulent on the entry with fine tannin, crisp and focused with superb definition, a little more finesse than the 2015 last year with a slightly confit-like finish that grips the mouth. It will require five or six years to really mellow and shave off those edges, but this will be a seductive 2016 from Jean-Luc Thunevin.
Drink Date 2022 - 2045
The deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Valandraud packs a wallop on the nose with bombastic scents of baked black plums, cherry compote, coffee beans and licorice plus hints of hoisin, cedar chest and sautéed herbs. Full-bodied, rich and decadent in the mouth, it has a firm frame of grainy tannins and a fantastically long finish. 2022 - 2058
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.
Fantastic core of dark fruit with blackberries, blueberries, licorice and crushed stones. Full body, beautifully polished tannins and a long and energetic finish. Pinpoint. Superb.
The 2016 Valandraud is fabulous. Rich, exotic and plush on the palate, it exudes raciness in all of its dimensions. Sweet toasted oak, crème de cassis, raspberry jam, spice and floral notes all run through the 2016. Even with all of its richness, it remains light on its feet for such a big wine, especially as it opens up in the glass. There is plenty of depth and concentration, that is for sure, but the 2016 also retains freshness as well as energy, with a good deal of tannin underpinning the fruit. Quite simply, this is a stellar Valandraud.
Exceptionally deep purple. Real life to this with graphite and richness. Very sweet and fully ripe but with much less acid than most other wines. Tough minerally dried grape finish on which the acid shows itself. Very dry end. Dramatic. 14.5%
Valandraud is painstakingly hand made in new, mainly Seguin Moreau, oak barrels by the guru of the garagistes Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle. First produced in 1991 (just 1900 bottles) with the help of Ausone's Alain Vauthier, this was the first of the "Garage Wines" of Saint Emilion and is still the benchmark by which all others are judged. Previously seen as an "outsider", Valandraud was awarded Premier Grand Cru Classé status in the 2012 classification of the wines of Saint Emilion. Not tasted En Primeur.
Including 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot-dominated 2016 Château Valandraud is a brilliant example of this cuvée that should match or exceed the incredible 2015 at maturity. Brought up all in new oak, its deep purple color is followed by a powerful bouquet of crème de cassis, graphite, smoked earth, and hints of earth. Possessing full-bodied richness, thrilling purity of fruit, ripe tannins, and just about perfect balance, it's another tour de force from the incredibly talented Jean-Luc Thunevin. It's slightly more elegant than the L'Interdit de Valandraud cuvée and will benefit from short-term cellaring and cruise for two decades or more. Drink 2023-2043.
With its saturated colour, scented oak and bold, fig, bramble and blackberry fruit, this is a very serious, densely layered Valandraud with plenty of extraction and structure, but good freshness and vivacity too. 2024-30
An estate that is fascinating to taste in this vintage. Cassis, blueberry and liquorice flavours have huge persistency, with a dense but creamy texture across the palate. For the past two years they have carried out much less green harvesting and the yield in 2016 is at 50hl/ha, the highest ever. 'Us, the big proponents of low yields', Jean Luc Thunevin tells me with a smile. He knows, as I do, that this is a big success, an extremely lovely wine that still impresses plenty. No surprise that this counts as my favourite Valandraud to date. 92 IPT. 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in 100% new oak. More than 96% of the production in this grand vin.
Drinking Window 2027 - 2050