There was a slightly mournful note last year in the cellars of Jean-Luc Thunevin. The frosts of 2017 had robbed many properties that Jean-Luc consults for on the right bank of much, if not all their crop. This year during primeurs, the mood was jubilant. 2018 is evidently a lovely vintage in St Emilion on the best terroirs. Yes, there might be more noise emanating elsewhere in Bordeaux in 2018 [in St Estèphe especially] but believe me there is an army of seductive reds on the right bank too. As ever there is so much to enjoy in the wines Jean-Luc consultants for and he’s pulled out all the stops in his own wines. Château Valandraud is always pretty remarkable stuff. This year it is a wonder.
For Jean-Luc, 2018 is like a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010. It has the fruit and joy or the former with the balance of the latter. The acidity is good, the growing conditions were great and there was just enough rain in the latter period of the harvest to allow for the maturation of the grapes and tannins, which prevented the vines from getting blocked. This is certainly an exciting vintage here, with thrilling levels of concentration and juicy fruit. It is going to be fascinating to see how the wines evolve in bottle.
The following notes are exclusively on the wines that Thunevin owns or part owns. He consults for dozens of other right and left bank properties and I will include thoughts on these wines, mostly the wines from St Emilion and Pomerol, reviews coming up shortly on the blog.
Bad Boy, Bordeaux
Super deep and saturated look; lifted; open and deep; earthy note; soft entry; really supple but with plenty of fruit; has harmony and fruit; without the extractive element; nicely balanced. Will work well. Chew on the finish, with some chocolate. Drink 2020-2023. 88-90
Domaine Virginie Thunevin, Bordeaux
Deep and saturated colour; tight to the rim; lovely lifted aromatics; very Bordeaux at the same time; chocolate; earthy; nice entry; lovely fruit; this is really pure and super cool; full and textured; has plenty of flesh; nice chew and texture; pretty exciting! Drink 2020-2025. 90-91+
Domaine des Sabines, Lalande de Pomerol
Deep and saturated colour; extremely tight to the rim; focused and precise on the nose; layered; some lift; plummy purity here; really attractive and pure; lovely entry; again very Bordeaux really just with more concentration and texture; this works really well; attractive mouthful; has texture on the finish. Drink 2023-2030. 90-92+
Le Clos du Beau Père, Pomerol
Deep; colour tight to the rim; right to edge; spices; fruitcake; creamy plum notes; this is a nicely focused nose; layers here; works really well; glossy; still feels Bordeaux too; ie no jam; lots of fruit but really focused; some oak on the palate but this will work through; not disjoined; feels like it is soaking up the oak; feels big with lots of extract but very focused; alcohol; chocolate; has length. Extract at the end. Length. Drink 2024-2032. 91-93+
Clos Badon, St Emilion Grand Cru
Deep and saturated look; earthy red purple at edge; strong and powerful; rich; lashings of fruit on the nose; sweet entry; soft and supple to begin with; easy almost but not that it lacks middle; nicely balanced and harmonious; has texture and matter on the finish. Great effort. Chewy finish – due to the volume of matter! Wow. Drink 2025-2035. 92-94+
Virginie de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru
Deep and arterial colour tight to the rim; legs; black cherry, plum, chocolate and some eau de vie; almost a meaty/savoury note too; possibly the volume of fruit here in 2018; little liquorice note from the oak; full entry; lots of extract and matter; real volume that needs to settle a bit; little furry around the edges at present but the fruit itself is very Bordeaux again; lots of structure; fruit tannins and also oak. This feels quite long term Virginie to me. Love the fruit – which is so Bordeaux. Has texture, matter but also some freshness. Little chewy on the finish perhaps. Great length. Lots of extract and needs to settle. 5-7 years minimum. Drink 2025-2035. 92-94
Château Valandraud, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Deep and typically saturated; legs; tight to the rim; creamy black fruits; very focused; pent up; very full but this wine has lots of gloss and polish; really focused; tightly packed fruit; interwoven with fine oak; sweet entry; lovely silky fruit and yet super concentrated; plenty of matter but tannins [lots of them] but supple and overall feeling is harmonious. Plums, black fruits; but also a mineral note. Great length. Really great in fact. Up there with the best Valandraud’s I’d say. Terrific. Later returing to the wine the overall impression was one of silkiness. A really polished wine with lovely tannins. 97-99+Blanc
Virginie Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc
Pale straw; silver; racy citrus and oyster shell; pear drops with hint of lychee; salty; cold palate; has candy lees notes; the pear drop come through; sweet/sour effect on the palate; sweetness from the ripeness; zesty and fascinating. Zesty and zappy at the end. Perhaps dips a fraction but this is a joyful white. Drink 2020-2024. 92-93+
Château Valandraud Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc
Pale straw; silver; waxier and more serious; deep; salinity here; candy and pear drop on the palate; more evident; quite candied in fact; bit has texture on the palate; a red drinkers white this; compares nicely with the greats from Pessac. Good length and persistence. Works really well. Drink 2022-2028. 93-94+
Garage beginnings at Valandraud
Tags: Bad Boy, Bdx18, Bordeaux, Bordeaux2018, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Valandraud, Clos Badon, Domaine des Sabines, Domaine Virginie Thunevin, Jean-Luc Thunevin, Lalande de Pomerol, Le Clos du Beau Père, Merlot, Pomerol, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, vin, Virginie de Valandraud, wine