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Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Villemaurine’

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.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: St Emilion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

The St Emilion Grand Cru Classé that were tasted bling at the Grand Cercle press tasting at Château de la Dauphine back in April were sensational. They stood out along with the wines from Fronsac [more on these shortly]. I’ve already published posts individually on a number of top chateaux in St Emilion in 2022.  I’m including these tasting notes again in this post, but I’m majoring on notes and analysis on a further sixteen cru classé and a handful of grand cru tasted with the Grand Cercle. There is usually some degree of variation between properties in any given year. The particular challenges of ’22, in terms of heat spikes and near continuous drought, would also have varied depending on terroir, viticulture and winemaking approaches. That being said, the astonishing thing about the wines tasted at the Grand Cercle was the high consistency. Many of the best wines are weighing in at fourteen to fifteen degrees alcohol [and, yes, it does now seem possible for a wine to achieve balance and weigh in at fifteen degrees] but there is surprising freshness in the wines, delicacy even. And the textures are sublime. So, what were the highlights at the Grand Cercle tasting?

Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: Château Valandraud and Jean-Luc Thunevin

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Be and think otherwise, that’s the Jean-Luc Thunevin motto. A trip to his cellars is always a thrill. The slight, cheeky, prodigiously talented iconoclast always seems to have a playful trick or two up his sleeve and you never feel quite sure what might happen next. In the past we used to cram into his garage cellars in St Emilion to taste the latest vintage – his own wines as well as dozens and dozens he consults for. Now that Château Valandraud has its cellars completed and front-of-house set up, the tastings are a slightly more sanitised affair, but that’s a measure of his success. In fact, this year St Emilion’s ‘Bad Boy’ even hosted the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux at Valandraud itself, the property he created and runs with his wife Murielle Andraud, now regularly one of the top Premier Grand Cru Classé in St Emilion. The revolutionary now has the establishment eating from his hands. So, what of the magician’s 2022s? Well, they are quite simply magical.

Bordeaux Primeurs 2022: First thoughts

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

My primeurs visit this year [my first since 2019] was limited to a four-day long weekend of tastings on Bordeaux’s right bank in and around St Emilion. I hope to have an in-depth look at the left bank at a later date. Despite the brevity of the trip I looked at hundred plus wines and on the basis of those, 2022 certainly looks to be an exciting vintage for many. It was a hot and dry year, with real heat spikes. Challenging? Yes in some cases but if anything, part of the new normal in Bordeaux in climate and meteorological terms. Stylistically what’s the vintage like in terms of other recent vintages? 2018? 2009? 2003? Any declaration on style is affected by the fact that Bordeaux has evolved considerably over the last decade in winemaking and viticultural terms. In warm years, of which there are now many, picking is less super late, winemaking is generally less extractive and oak handling less obvious. Everyone, it seems, is searching for greater freshness and balance. The comparison most frequently offered by winemakers and proprietors in describing 2022, usually after some procrastination and umpteen caveats, was 2010. Not necessarily in terms of the precise weather conditions. 2010 was a vintage of so-called ‘cool’ maturity, which is not evidently the case in 2022. But there is certainly that level of concentration in the wines, and with much less evident extraction than a decade earlier. I certainly found the tannins in 2022 to be like satin. So, what are the highlights?

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