Château Valandraud is an unclassified Bordeaux in the Saint-Emilion appellation and it is considered one of the original “vins de garage.” Unlike most historic estates in Bordeaux, Valandraud is a relatively young estate, having been founded in 1989 by Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Mureille Andraud. The couple started with a tiny 1.5 acre plot and have since added more vineyards for a total of 11 acres, which means it still remains extremely small by regional standards. In wine world jargon Valandraud is known as a “microchateau” or “garagiste” producer. Valandraud’s first release was 1991. Its Grand Vin is typically a blend of 65% Merlot 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. Up to 20,000 bottles are produced annually. A former wine merchant and restaurateur, Thunevin has been called “highly talented” by Robert M. Parker Jr., who applauds Valandraud as “enormously rich, concentrated, and beautifully well delineated.”
Bordeaux is the world’s most famous fine-wine producing region. Even non-wine drinkers recognize the names of Bordeaux’s celebrated wines, such as Margaux and Lafite-Rothschild. Located near the Atlantic coast in southwest France, the region takes its name from the seaport city of Bordeaux, a wine trading center with an outstanding site on the Garonne River and easy access to the Atlantic. Like most French wine regions, Bordeaux’s first vineyards were planted by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago, then tended by medieval monks. Aristocrats and nobility later owned the region’s best estates and today estates are owned by everyone from non-French business conglomerates to families who have been proprietors for generations. Bordeaux has nearly 280,000 acres of vineyards, 57 appellations and 10,000 wine-producing châteaux. Bordeaux is bifurcated by the Gironde Estuary into so-called “right bank” and “left bank” appellations. Bordeaux’s red wines are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. It also makes white wines of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. There are several classification systems in Bordeaux. All are attempts to rank the estates based on the historic quality of the wines.