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In 1989, Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud became the proud owners of a small plot of land of 0,6 ha, in the valley of Saint Emilion, between Pavie Macquin and La Clotte. In 1991 they produced and bottled their first vintage. Since then, their estate portfolio has grown with properties in Saint Christophe des Bardes, Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens or Saint Etienne de Lisse.
In the early days, wine critics nicknamed their production « garage wine », but even as Château Valandraud had not –yet- entered the Saint Emilion classification, it was considered by most wine critics, including Robert Parker, as playing in Bordeaux major league.
In 2012, Château Valandraud has been promoted as a 1st classified growth of Saint Emilion.
In 2017, Château Valandraud became a full member of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux.
Because garage wines do not often grow in the best possible land, the vineyards must work twice as hard as others to reach top quality. Valandraud's cultivations are scattered around Saint-Emilion, which means that the soils are significantly different. Winemaker Dalmasso says: –We have plenty of choice in the blending stage. Only 20–30 per cent of our wines go to Château Valandraud, and the rest to Virginie de Valandraud and 3 de Valandraud.
We work as ecologically as possible, but unfortunately, a hundred per cent organic operation is not a realistic alternative due to the climate. Harvest method: hand picked Winemaking: grapes are stemmed manually, then bursted in ahand-crusher. Fermentation in oak vasts. Malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels.
Surface: 8.88 hectares Soil : clayey limstone
Grape varieties 65 % Merlot, Cabernet Franc 25 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%, Malbec 4%, Carmenère 1%
Average age of the vines : 30 ans
Manual harvest, several sorting including Tribaie.technology
Vinification in thermo gerulated stainless steel , concrete and wooden tanks , Malolactic fermentation in barrels.
Ageing: 18 to 30 months in new barrels Production: 150 00 bottles
Blending may differ accordin to vintage
Château de Valandraud
Château de Valandraud is a very famous ‘garage wine’ created by Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle Andraud. Its first vintage was 1991.
Having become highly successful wine merchants in the Saint-Emilion area, their burning ambition was to own their own vineyard and make their own wine. Little by little, they bought up several parcels of vines. The name of the growth is both geographical (Val for Vale of Fongaban) and sentimental (Andraud being Murielle's name). That was how Château Valandraud came on being.
Their policy is therefore to look after the vines, some thirty years old, with the same meticulous care always keeping to the authentic nature of things. Valandraud's cellarmaster, Rémi Dalmasso, explains:
–Instead of adding something into the wine, we concentrate it. That is why minimal harvests and removing excess juice by the saignée method are more appropriate. On average, we remove 20 per cent of the juice before fermentation, and I once even tried removing 50 per cent for our Cabernet Franc! We also have a concentrator, which we like to use rather than chaptalise with sugar.
Alcohol content is a surprisingly important factor in garage wines. Robert Parker is known to like full and warming wines, which means that getting good points requires a high percentage. Dalmasso comments:
–For us, the optimum is 13.5 per cent, clearly above average. Funny as it may sound, but this is fierce competition – just like Formula One. And you need to play to win.
Because garage wines do not often grow in the best possible land, the vineyards must work twice as hard as others to reach top quality. Valandraud's cultivations are scattered around Saint-Emilion, which means that the soils are significantly different. Winemaker Dalmasso says:
–We have plenty of choice in the blending stage. Only 20–30 per cent of our wines go to Château Valandraud, and the rest to Virginie de Valandraud and 3 de Valandraud. We work as ecologically as possible, but unfortunately, a hundred per cent organic operation is not a realistic alternative due to the climate.
Harvest method: hand picked
Winemaking: grapes are stemmed manually, then bursted in ahand-crusher. Fermentation in oak vasts. Malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels
SARL des Etablissements Thunevin
6, rue Guadet
33330 Saint-Emilion, France
Tél. : (+33) 05 57 55 09 13
Fax : (+33) 05 57 55 09 12
Parker: "Andraud is one of the most interesting stories in Bordeaux. The wine is made from an unheralded terroir owned by the young, obsessive/compulsive, exuberantly passionate Monsieur Thunevin. He produces a Bordeaux from tiny yields and ripe fruit, ages it in 100% new oak, and refuses to fine or filter prior to bottling. Sadly, Valandraud has become the darling of speculators, largely because of (1) its fabulous quality, and (2) its limited production. There were only 4,200 bottles produced in 1993, 8,998 in 1994, and 11,400 in 1995. It is easy to criticize the outrageous prices this wine fetches, but lunatic speculators aside, Valandraud symbolizes what can be done in Bordeaux when the limits of quality are pushed to the maximum, and the advice of most oenologists (who for nearly three decades have encouraged too much fining and filtering) is ignored. The only question I have concerning Valandraud is: will this wine, when fully mature, live up to its extraordinary promise? An opaque purple color, and a firm, closed set of aromatics (sweet blackcurrant, woodsy, smoky aromas emerge with airing) are revealed in this blockbuster 1994. The wine possesses fabulous purity, great flavor intensity, a sweet inner-core of fruit on the mid-palate, and a full-bodied, layered, viscous finish. It is unquestionably one of the finest wines of the vintage. Give it 5-7 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2002-2020."
(Robert M. Parker, Jr.)