|Sub-district||Saint Emilion & Satellites|
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. Drinking range: 2022 - 2045 Rating: 96 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Aug 2020)
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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. Drinking range: 2023 - 2043 Rating: 98+ Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Mar 2019)
This is a full display of fruit, with raspberry preserve, plum reduction and creamed boysenberry notes streaming through in lockstep, while light bramble and singed vanilla accents happily take a back seat throughout. An echo of chalky minerality at the very end adds refinement and length. Drinking range: 2022 - 2038 Rating: 96 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Jan 2019)
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. Drinking range: 2022 - 2045 Rating: 95-97 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Apr 2017)
Among the garagiste wineries of the 1990’s, none was more garagiste than Château Valandraud. When Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle bought a couple of tiny plots of wines in 1989, the only place they had to make their wine was in a garage in the back streets of St Emilion village. The better of the two plots was 0.6ha just outside the village squashed between Pavie-Macquin and Le Clotte in a little valley called the Vallon de Fongaban – tacking the “Val” from Vallon on to Murielle’s maiden name – Andraud – they came up with the name Valandraud. Necessity as much as thirst for quality meant that practically everything was done meticulously by hand. The first release was in 1991. The 1992 was released at First Growth kinds of prices, which turned heads and set Château Valandraud on the path to cult status. Gradually more vineyard has been purchased including the previously obscure Château Bel-Air-Ouÿ in Saint-Etienne-de-Lisse, way out east near the border with the Côtes de Castillon, meaning Château Valandraud now has a château. With the purchase of Bel-Air-Ouÿ, it is interesting to note that the majority of this undoubtedly great estate’s vineyards lie far outside the established area of the St Emilion plateau. Valandraud’s meteoric rise was crowned by its elevation from nowhere to Premier Grand Cru Classé (B) status in the 2012 St Emilion classification, and few would bet against the B being turned into an A if St Emilion can bear the turmoil of a further classification in the future. The vineyards are around 70% Merlot, with anything from 65% to 100% going into the main cuvée. Most of the rest of the vineyards are Cabernet Franc, but there are smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Carmenère. The wine is aged in 100% new oak. There are, also, around 2ha of vineyard dedicated to white wine production. Aside from Château Valandraud, there is Virginie de Valandraud which is often described as the second wine of the estate but Thunevin insist it is more of an alternative cuvée with Le 3 de Valandraud being the actual second wine.
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