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Bordeaux 2023: Château Valandraud et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Turning up to Château Valandraud is always a mouth-watering prospect. There are fewer wines now on tasting at the refurbished château than there used to be at the tiny cellars beside Jean Luc Thunevin’s home in St Emilion, but it’s still one to get the juices going. While focus is always on the hedonistic Valandraud grand vin itself, I always spend at lot of time looking at the entire range, which is where the value here lies. I’ve been visiting his cellars now for over a decade during primeurs and I’ve been consistently impressed by Domaine de Sabines in Lalande de Pomerol, Clos Badon in St Emilion and Le Clos du Beau Père in Pomerol. These wines do not disappoint in 2023, though there is a freshness and lightness of touch this year in keeping with the vintage. Jean Luc continues to consult for lots of properties on the right bank and I was particularly impressed with Château Mangot this year, alongside Château Sansonnet. What of Château Valandraud itself in 2023? It is inky and bold and definitely needs time.

The following wines were tasted at Château Valandraud on 20th April 2024. I hope you find the notes useful.

Domaine des Sabines, Lalande de Pomerol, 2023

Deep and attractive, delicate and perfumed, works well; nice texture; more harmony; some smoked oaky notes; some oak on the finish but soft tannins and complete. Soft and easy. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2026-2033. 88-90+

Clos Badon, St  Emilon Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep colour; tight to edge; sturdy, briary aromatics; fresh and stalky; nice tension between the fruit and the harmony; soft extraction to the tannins; lots of extra but well handled. Has a certain delicacy. Not the weightiest but fresh. Has good texture on the finish. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2028-2038. 90-91

3 de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2023

Deep and saturated; legs; colour close to edge; briary fresh fruit; stalky notes; attractive palate; briary and brambly notes; soft tannins; flattering end. Round and harmonious. Easy on the finish. [90% Merlot with 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14%]. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2026-2033. 88-90

Virginie de Valandraud, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2023

Deep and saturated; colour close to the edge; dense; very elegant on the nose but nicely layered; savoury; attractive entry; very well integrated; polished; nicely compacted; fine. Has length on the finish. Quite polished. Length and intensity on the finish. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2028-2036. 91-92+

Château Valandraud, St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep and attractive; super saturated colour; intense and tight to the rim; inky; some raisin; some chocolate; creamy fruit; very inky; concentrated yes but lacks a little bit of freshness on the palate; chocolate and espresso notes alongside tannin on the finish. Lots of density and extract here. Feels long term. Powerful yet not as succulent a prospect as ’22 at the same point. Keen to see this again after elévage. [Blending 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% ABV, 3.5 pH.] Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2030-2050. 95-96+

Other properties shown

Château Mangot, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep and saturated; tight to rim; fresher black cherry; fruity; attractive aromatics; creamy and black fruits; quite nicely integrated; bright and with good punctuation on the end. Works. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2030-2038. 91-92+

Château Villemaurine, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep and saturated; schist; some wet rock; fresh briary notes; freshness and has some texture on the palate. Has grip and punctuation on the finish. Savoury. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2029-2038. 88-90

Château Sansonnet, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, 2023

Deep and saturated; saturated and up to the edge; some brightness; little plum and black cherry; fresh, some perfume; has nice weight and softness; some grip and attractive. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2028-2040. 89-91+

Château Lynsolence, St Emilion Grand Cru, 2023

Deep and saturated; stalky, briary notes has freshness; savoury edge at the back; ripe; schist and concentrated; some chew and depth; quite dry and extracted on the end. Puckering new oak a bit. Let’s see how it settles. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2028-2038. 87-89

Le Clos du Beau-Père, Pomerol, 2023

Deep and earthy red at edge; some fruit on the nose; blueberry and black cherry fruits; some mealy/oat notes; savoury on the palate; nice and caressing; this works well. Acidity and freshness at the back. Works well. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2028-2038. 90-91+


Le Clos de Beau Père, Bordeaux Blanc, 2023

Brilliant green/gold; fresh and mineral; some oyster shell; candied pear; attractive; lanolin on the palate; fresh; and lively. Attractive. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2023-2028. 90-91

Virginie de Valandraud, Bordeaux Blanc, 2023

Steely pale straw; apples; has texture on the palate; nice; fresh and zippy on the end. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2023-2027. 90-91

Valandraud Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2023

Pale straw; lanolin; spices; some cashew; big and bold; full on the palate; broad rich and lush; nice attractive; oak on the finish with some alcohol. [53% Sauvignon Gris, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Semillon]. Tasted April, 2024. Drink 2024-2027. 92-94.

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