Château Valandraud – creators of Bordeaux’s Black Sheep
Château Valandraud is the proudest achievement of a wine obsessed couple, Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud. This visionary couple with a passion for elegant wines claimed a spot for themselves among other Bordeaux aristocrats by turning their small winery into an internationally renowned business.
Château Valandraud started off as a small vineyard (0,6 ha) situated in the Fongaban valley, close to Château Pavie Macquin and Château La Clotte in St.Émilion.
This is where the name “Valandraud” comes from Val (meaning valley) and Andraud (Murielle’s family name), where the vines are planted.
Today Valandraud has 10 ha of vines planted where Merlot vines account for 70%, Cabernet Franc 20%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%, Malbec 2%, and Carmenère 2%. Two hectares are devoted strictly to the production of white Bordeaux wine grapes, which are planted as follows: 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon, and 15% Sauvignon Gris. These parcels are located in various areas across St. Émilion.
Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle made the wise choice of surrounding themselves with a highly qualified team, even in their early days. Together, they worked hard and in 2012 Château Valandraud ascended from a Grand Cru to a 1er Grand Cru Classé.
“WE PRODUCE REMARKABLE WINES FROM A “COLD” TERROIR THAT IS CONDUCIVE TO PERFECTLY RIPE FRUIT WITH EXCEPTIONAL FRESHNESS.” (Jean-Luc Thunevin)
Jean-Luc Thunevin became a well-known figure in the wine world, thanks to his successful garage wine, Château Valandraud. It’s probably when tasting Château Le Pin, a Pomerol wine produced from a very small vineyard, that the desire to make great wine by Jean-Luc Thunevin started.
Obsessed with wine, opinionated and determined, he finally realized his dream in 1991, when he began the first vintage of Château Valandraud. This was the start of a fantastic adventure leading to quick success. From then on, he became the inspiration and a leader of sorts for other garagistes. In essence, a “garage wine” is described as a very high-end wine produced from extremely low yields from small parcels of vines in St. Émilion.
Low yields lead to wonderfully rich and generous fruit, so all of the micro cuvées coming from low yield become concentrated wines. The vineyard work is under the strict supervision of Murielle, Jean-Luc’s wife, who leads her team by passing along various skills/knowledge, including how to respect each vine, tailoring pruning methods based on vine-type, systematic de-leafing campaigns and of course green harvesting to name a few.
Jean-Luc aims to harvest at full maturity, he also copied the Burgundy vinification ways to reach an optimum concentration. With that said, each bottle of wine is produced with a never-ending goal of achieving excellence.
Throughout his many years of passionate work, Jean-Luc Thunevin has mastered a know–how that is now beneficial to other chateaux, such as Fleur Cardinale (St. Émilion Grand Cru Classé), Château Sansonnet (St. Émilion Grand Cru Classé), Ch. La Vieille Cure (Fronsac).
He has previously worked for Ch. Marojallia (Margaux), Branon (Graves), and Ch. La Dominique (St. Émilion Grand Cru Classé). Muriellee Andraud and Jean-Luc Thunevin are owners and producers in Pomerol too with Clos du Beau Père and Domaine des Sabines (Lalande de Pomerol) and are also the co-owners of Domaine Thunevin-Calvet in Roussillon.
Jean-Luc Thunevin has repeatedly been called “St. Émilion Bad Boy” or “Bordeaux’s Black Sheep” by Robert Parker, and it has given him the inspiration to develop a new cuvée called BAD BOY (Mauvais Garçon).
In 2007, Bad Boy 2005 was released, under the regular Bordeaux appellation, as the regulations did not authorize “new blendings” at the time. Shortly after the release of Bad Boy, the family grows even further with the BABY BAD BOY (Petit Garçon). Fortunately, at the time of BABY BAD BOY, the Vin de France regulation authorized unseen blendings (Merlot/Grenache).
With this new regulation in place, it made perfect sense to have a bubbly Crémant de Bordeaux BAD GIRL (dry white and rosé) as part of the family. Other labels produced include the Virginie de Valandraud, 3 de Valandraud, Château Valandraud Koshe, Blanc de Valandraud N01 and N02, and the declassified non-vintage vin de table L’Interdit de Valandraud which was not allowed by INAO (Institut National de l’origine et de la Qualité) to vintage date the 2000 harvest, and therefore, was designated as a St.Émilion wine.
In 2012 Château Valandraud was elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé B label and considered one of the top wines of Bordeaux
“THUNEVIN STILL CHALLENGES THE STATUS QUO, HOPING TO OPEN BORDEAUX TO INNOVATION AND RISK TAKING!” ( The Wine Spectator)
Each vintage wine is a culmination of the dedication and hard work done by an entire team of experts whose main goal is, simply, to offer you the best wine based on their abilities. Château Valandraud has thus earned kudos from both professional critics and amateurs.
Château Valandraud is regularly acclaimed for its harmonious complexity, depth, and intensity. Additionally, Château Valandraud is well known for its display of fruit, the freshness of their product and that velvety texture and finesse that keeps you wanting more. And at Wine & More…more wine is always a good thing 😉
“SO, THIS IS THE STORY OF HOW ONE MAN AND LET’S NOT FORGET, ONE WOMAN, CHANGED THE FACE OF BORDEAUX. IT IS A STORY WITH HUMBLE BEGINNINGS” (Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate)