Friday, December 1, 2006

Finding one’s place

It is my turn to find it amazing when an unknown cru prides itself on having beaten my Château Valandraud in a tasting event. Me too, I tended to say that my wine was better than some Grand Cru I used to dream of. In a way, it is a way for a Grand Cru to position itself by comparing itself to him.
Unfortunately, today none of the 1st growth would think about comparing themselves to Valandraud!

To mimic Martin Luther King “I had a dream...for my wine”, I did but it was only a dream, even if I am happy that Valandraud is listed in books as one of the best wines in the world. Parker or Bettane et Desseauve still have work to do.
Here in Saint Emilion, it is incredible the number of times Petrus was beaten by his challengers in blind tasting.

As for me, I am somewhat modest and when I compare Valandraud in blind tasting, it is with a minimum of 4 well known classified growths (ideally around 10 would be better) and I hope to be included in the best.
For instance, I am happy to be in the top 5 in the last tasting of the Grand Jury Européen, results based on 5 vintages (1998 to 2002). If you ad the 1995 vintage, there is no doubt that I would end up 1st or 2nd!

Conclusion: If you are not classified 1st in 1855, you have to fight every day, justify and prove by hard work that you deserve to be included with other classified growth and be grateful to have the opportunity to rub shoulders with these icons.

On the site « », Patrick Essa gives me the pleasure to write everything he follows. Thank you whole heartedly and good reading!

Château Valandraud : Blood and Gold...

I have assembled for this article notes from recent tastings of Château Valandraud (which lost its “de” last year). By publishing them in this aggregative way, I would like to salute the patient work done by my exact opposite in Bordeaux…Almost everything opposes us in facts and then so many things connect us on the human level! I wish for you to taste the crus from this incredible winery – where I recently got lost – for despite the many criticism about its location, it represents with no doubt one of the most refined wine in the “Emilionaise” region. Of course, its price only allows for a rich clientele or at least “passionate” although I think that it truly represents a simple idea of what is allowed to do in culture, aging and vinification when the only watchword is “no limits”!

Blanc de Valandraud 2004 : A rich and ripe wine which owes its freshness to the lack of malolactic fermentation and the right amount of tension from the semillion and the sauvignon blanc. Notes of elder and buds of cassis mixed with notes of pure exoticism which reminisces the crystal purity of the Dagueneau crus and a svelte and filling palate which ends on fine notes of verbena. Very good. 88

Blanc de Valandraud 2005 : This wine has not been filtered and its sparkling robe is slightly tanned. Fine nose, distinguished and held up on notes of vine flowers, lime tea, intense. Dry palate, gracious beautifully expressive and a subtle touch of “northern” wine. The balance is perfect and the wine end with length and beautiful aromas of white truffle and wild mint. Beautiful wine 90.

Château Valandraud 2005 : Jean-luc and Murielle Thunevin are searching the Holly Grail. Understand by this statement that nothing – absolutely nothing – is too beautiful to produce the greatest wine ever in the land they own in Saint Emilion. Their attention to detail is brought to a level equivalent to obsession and it is quite “exciting” to notice the absolute synergy between these two and imagine the miraculous cru they carry and give birth every year. 2005 is the fruit of relentless labor, precision in the vineyards and in the cellar which is only equal to their concept of The great wine. Under these conditions and the exceptional quality which this year offered naturally, it is obvious that this 2005 was made to be remembered. Tasted from assembling lots from several barrels in Bel Air Ouÿ, the wine showed a deep darkness, but absolutely not jammy or too heavy. No, it is searching for balance around prominent tannins which are found at the end of the first year of aging, when they reach a phase of peak and give the wine it’s “angular” nature. I was seduced by the notes of blackberries and crisp grapes which cover the palate and by a perfect quality of wood. Ultra tight matter but fresh and impressive length which doesn’t even give way to Ausone…A gem! 93-98

Château Valandraud 2004 : This cru was not even rated by Parker which meant that it was of “small level” for it is still not being sold and on the other hand …is still in barrels. How all this fine world got it wrong and how Valandraud 2004 will become a major success by respecting its internal rhythm. Let me know which Cru today can claim to accept to go through 3 winters at its own cost? Check out the gossip because this Valandraud has the built of La Turque. Supported by a fiery and a rough character with a supple and harmonious structure, with a sheen given by careful and thoughtful aging. Robe black and opaque, nose with iron bringing out notes of dried fruits combined with aromas of vanilla, mouth straight and elegant, impeccably sculpted and with an astonishing freshness with liquorices. Imposing length. Great wine. 92-97

Château Valandraud 2001 : You feel that the fiery “Valendrienne” youth is starting to calm down and that this cru finds its proper aromatic place in the opacity of the glass. A powerful wine, with perfectly pure tannins. Underlining fruit which express notes of elder and prunes and tight fabric with freshness and length. A wine to dring tomorrow or later. 92-94

Château Valandraud 2000 : This wine is first of all of great sincerity. Wood still present but of beautiful quality, which doesn’t hide nice aromas of carob and black fruits. Svelte palate, perfectly ripe, built on fine tannins. The matter is silky and seductive and the wines possesses the beautiful breed of “Emillionais” terroir. Perhaps not the most accomplished Valandraud but of certainly sure value. 93

Château Valandraud 1999 : Fruitier than its junior, it is supple with a svelte structure and an elevated finish which leaves a great impression. A wine with no fuss that must be drunk today as it seems to peak. I like the character of these “intermediary” vintages and their perfect digestibility. Pure pleasure. 90

Château Valandraud 1995: We tasted it during a meal after an excellent Pontet-Canet 2003, and it really thrilled me. An absolutely pure wine which expresses fresh fruitiness and totally melted tannins which reveal a complex form perfectly lean. Subtle aromas of liquorices dominate a suave and round palate which gives a marvelous palette of aromas going from white pepper to mignonette, peony to blackberry. A great moment at the table for a wine that some people wanted to see it collapse. Great class…97

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