Producer

Thunevin - Château Valandraud

Country

FRANCE

Region of production

BORDEAUX

Appellations

8, including Saint-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé

Founded

1992

Climate

Temperate oceanic

Soil composition

Clay-limestone

Vineyard

45 hectares used for production

Agriculture

Sustainable

Production Volume

350,000 bottles;
90% red,
10% white

Varieties Grown

Cabernet Franc , Cabernet Sauvignon , Carmenere Noir, Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon

Ages of Vines

35 years old, on average

Behind the Wines

Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud

This visionary couple with a passion for elegant wines has carved out a spot for themselves among the Bordeaux aristocracy and turned their small winery into an internationally renowned business. The name of the estate and its star plot is a combination of the French word vallon (which means “small valley”) and Murielle’s last name.

The “bad boy” of Bordeaux

Access the wines of this producer

In the mid-1980s, a free spirit wandered into the village of Saint-Émilion, first selling postcards, then opening wine bars and restaurants before learning how to make wine from his friends. And it wasn’t long before he came up with some excellent results!

A rebel among the vines

Jean-Luc Thunevin isn’t your classic winemaker who inherited the family operations and an ancestral chateau. He wasn’t born among Bordeaux’s vineyards, nor did he study oenology—far from it. In fact, Jean-Luc was born on a farm in Algeria and he trained to be a woodcutter. And yet, he found his niche among the vines.

Sumptuous garage wine  

The term “garage wine” usually conjures up images of Italian immigrants making homemade wine in America. But for wine lovers, it means something else altogether: a wine that is both exquisite and rare. The expression was coined specifically for a wine that Jean-Luc made in the days when he was still a bar owner in Saint-Émilion. He had crafted it in his garage using grapes grown on his small plot. The entire batch was just 1,300 bottles. But much to everyone’s surprise, this Château Valandraud proved outstanding thanks to its exceptional concentration. Critics like Robert Parker raved about it and the expression, though mocking at first, quickly became an “uncontrolled” appellation!

About the bad boy

Having heard about this unlikely rising star, Robert Parker described him as the bad boy of Bordeaux. This label also stuck and was even adopted by Jean-Luc himself, who freely applied it to the name of some of his products.

Not bad at all!

That’s the story behind Bad Boy (classic Bordeaux), Baby Bad Boy (Merlot and Grenache under the Vin de France appellation) and Bad Girl (Crémant de Bordeaux, available as a blush or white). This line was highly acclaimed and appealed to new consumers who were drawn to its informal attitude, embodied by the black sheep on the bottle labels.

Climbing the rungs

Jean-Luc and Murielle surrounded themselves with a highly qualified team. Together, they worked very hard and in 2012 Château Valandraud ascended from a Grand Cru to a 1er Grand Cru Classé. “We produce remarkable wines from a ‘cold’ terroir that is conducive to perfectly ripe fruit with exceptional freshness.” —  Jean-Luc Thunevin