In 1989, a successful négociant carrier in Bordeaux, Jean-Luc Thunevin and his wife Murielle Andraud, bought a 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) plot in Saint-Émilion between Pavie-Macquin and La Clotte, and a former garage to be used as a winery.
That's when Château Valandraud was born.
The name is as much geographic (Val: Vallon de Fongaban) as it is sentimental (Andraud: Murielle’s family name).
The first vintage was released in 1991: 1,500 bottles, priced at less than $20.
Exemplified as a typical "micro-château," Valandraud was given 96 points for the 2009 vintage and 97+ points for the 2010 by The Wine Advocate, and its price approaches $400.
Château Valandraud was promoted 1st Grand Cru Classé in the 2012 ranking of the great wines of Saint Émilion, just 20 years after its first vintage! Unprecedented! And even more importantly, with Valandraud, a new appellation of origin "un”-controlled was born: the “Garage Wine!”
This kind of success and ultimate achievement would have been enough for most people, but not for the true artist. The true artist does not work for fortune or fame, but for the love of what they create. For that reason they are never satisfied and always innovating, breaking the boundaries, pushing the limits.
And that is the nature of Jean-Luc; the restless “bad boy” of Saint Émilion has looked beyond his native Bordeaux into the ancient, but newly re-discovered, wine region of Roussillon in Southwestern France.
The new Thunevin-Calvet winery is located in Maury, the first building at the entrance of the town. The ruins of the mysterious Cathar castles (Quéribus and Peyrepertuse) close by, with their thousand years of history, add to the majesty of this outstanding, unspoiled natural environment.
The town of Maury gave its name to the appellation for sweet fortified wine, but Maury is today just one of many outstanding wines produced here and the only sweet one. The focus is on full-bodied, dry reds from old vines Grenache Noir and Carignan and high-altitude Syrah, as well as crisp whites from Grenache Blanc and Macabeu.
Read more about the Thunevin-Calvet winery in the upcoming edition of the Wine Journal, in stores March!
Atanas Nechkov, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineatanas