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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
BORDEAUX VINTAGE 2019
When I visited Bordeaux in early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France was more concerned about an air traffic control strike. However, I was traveling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get a first taste of the 2019 vintage. I was looking forward to the en primeur tastings which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were canceled mid-March . I immediately contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.
The result was a small number of wines that arrived in Essen before France's lockdown made shipping rather difficult. These first samples of the 2019 vintage were tasted in impeccable conditions to ensure a fair and equal evaluation of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved that the opinion of certain Bordeaux personalities was right. Bruno-Eugène Borie of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 and 2005.
Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, as well as 2016, that he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin of Château Mouton-Rothschild believes that the vintage is rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After a few smaller harvests, they returned to average production.
Emmanuel Cruse of Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 while preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Soils like chalk and clay retained enough precipitation during the winter. Vineyards on these water-retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With the exception of a wet June, the vintage benefited from a rather dry climatic situation, which made it possible to largely avoid diseases in the vines. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves did not really harm the vines as the rain set in, always at the last moment but always early enough to avoid massive water stress and a slowdown in maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness than in previous years.
Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker from Smith-Haut-Lafitte, associates this freshness with the good acidity “due to the cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. “They are the big surprise,” confides Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.
At Château Coutet de Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly harvested in three passes totaling 19 days of harvest. They judge the conditions to be rather ideal: “These climatic conditions generated a harvest whose quality is undeniably present. » The same samples made their way to Essen and I tasted them. More samples are being announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever the samples arrive.
Unfortunately, 2019 is coming in a difficult time, the Corona virus is scaring the world and making business more and more difficult. Commercial bays and new customs duties create a difficult environment for this vintage. However, we must not forget one thing: magnificent 2019s await us, wines with aging potential and charm that will survive all crises.