Voluptuous and perfectly soft from the very first. The fruit seems inexhaustible.
The term most often used to describe the wine that brought fame to Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle — “garagiste” — doesn’t quite do the job. Yes, they worked out of a borrowed garage to create the first batches of Valandraud in the early 1990s, lacking the money and resources of neighboring, generations-old châteaux, and yes, they did everything by hand. But they quickly ran out of space in that garage, and had vats take over their kitchen and dining room, as well!
Yields on the 1.5-acre plot near Château Pavie-Macquin were miniscule, the farming organic. Thunevin would succeed by sweating every detail and experimenting with green harvesting, de-suckering, and new oak.
By 1995, Robert Parker was favorably comparing the Château Valandraud to Right Bank royalty like Château Pétrus, and crowned Thunevin an iconoclastic “Bad Boy.” The godfather of the garagiste movement — an Algerian immigrant and former bank clerk and DJ — Jean-Luc Thunevin had shown that nervy passion and modernistic viniculture could match and sometimes even exceed old-school Bordelais heritage. Saint-Émilion would never be the same.
In 2012, Château Valandraud was awarded Premier Grand Cru Classé status, ruffling some feathers but delighting Thunevin and his fellow revolutionaries. You can almost hear Thunevin’s laugh when he told a journalist: “It took Mouton Rothschild a hundred years to get the Premier Grand Cru Classé label, but it only took me 20!” With the help of Flying Winemaker Michel Rolland, Valandraud was now producing some of the softest, most sensuous, and hedonistic reds in all of Bordeaux.
This wasn’t news to Robert Parker, who went wild for this wine, singling it out in his Bordeaux vintage report as one of “2012’s Most Brilliant Wines.” The Wine Advocate review piled on the acclaim, praising the “clean and crisp blackberry and raspberry fruit” and “precise and vivid finish” before concluding: “A quite stupendous wine from Jean-Luc and Murielle that must stand as one of the best on the Right Bank.” Then it pinned on a scorching 95 points. In the opinion of Vinous, the 2012 Château Valandraud was hands-down “one of the wines of the vintage.”
Voluptuous and perfectly soft from the very first. The fruit seems inexhaustible. The middle palate is very luscious and the aftertaste long and tasty. The wine is altogether remarkable, with fresh tannin that provides balance, structure, and length. The gorgeous tannic structure means this will cellar magnificently for years, entering the pantheon of Bordeaux legends.
For a Right Bank stunner with this much panache and depth, $135 is a BARGAIN. Just 300 bottles won’t last the hour.
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