The 2020 Valandraud is a stunner. Rich, deep and explosive, the 2020 possesses dazzling intensity from start to finish. Silky tannins wrap around a core of plush dark red/black fruit, licorice, spice, mocha and new leather. Even with all of its intensity, the 2020 is bright and wonderfully focused. Sweet floral and blood orange accents liven up the explosive finish. Magnificent.
One of the wines of the vintage is Jean-Luc Thunevin's 2020 Château Valandraud, which comes from the cooler, eastern side of Saint-Emilion. Exhibiting a dense purple hue as well as an incredible perfume of crème de cassis, ripe black cherries, violets, new leather, and an almost Hermitage-like burning embers character, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ripe, seamless tannins, remarkable purity of fruit, and a finish that won't quit. A blend of 85% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it's clearly in the same league as the 2019, if not slightly more concentrated. Give bottles 5-7 years in the cellar, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following 20-25 years or so.
If the 2019 vintage at this address was something of a guilty pleasure, the 2020 Valandraud is simply guilty as charged. Exhibiting aromas of jammy black fruits mingled with toasted coconut, spices and caricatural slatherings of new oak, it's full-bodied, rich and chewy, with generously extracted tannins that clamp down on the finish. All that oak and extract impedes access to the wine's generous fruit, rendering it less demonstrative and gourmand than its 2019 counterpart, and that's a pity, as recent vintages of Valandraud have been among the more successful of the few remaining hold-out "garagiste" wines of the Right Bank.
The 2020 Valandraud was a startling Saint-Émilion from barrel. Bottled in July 2022, it retains a very intense bouquet with blackberry, wild strawberry, licorice and star anis scents that remain beautifully defined. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent, plush, luxuriant tannins. There is a candied quality to this Valandraud, yet the trick is that Thunevin maintains balance and it does not overwhelm on the decadent finish. It sashays along with style. Give it several years in bottle.
Juicy and alive, a brightness to this even though the fruits are dark in profile - blackcurrant, black cherry, herbal-tinged blueberries - heady and seductive. Layers of acidity, mint, freshness and toast combine to give quite a full and complex palate with everything at the fore yet staying the right side of being too much. Strong and characterful but totally charming. I love the St-Emilion glamour and muscle, softly flexing with a salty minerality and unmistakable signature. Drinking Window: 2027 - 2046