In 1989, Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud bought a small 0.6 hectare plot of vines with the dream of making great St. Emilion wine! The name of the estate is personal. Valandraud is a combination of its location and something more meaningful. The Val comes from Vallon de Fongaban. The second part, Andraud is Murielle’s maiden name.
Things have changed at the estate since its birth. With more land and more importantly, the Bordeaux wine of Valandraud is made entirely by Murielle. 2007 was the first vintage that allowed Murielle to call the shots for the wine making. This was a good move. 2009 Valandraud and 2010 Valandraud are two of the finest efforts from this unique, Bordeaux wine producer. The current 2011 vintage marks the 20th vintage for Valandraud as their first effort was the 1991 Valandraud.
Jeff Leve: What are your early thoughts on the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “Normally, it is in my nature to be the pessimist side. However, at this point, my first thoughts are now very optimistic for 2011 Bordeaux!”
Jeff Leve: At Valandraud, you were one of the last producers to finish harvesting in St. Emilion in 2011. Did the unexpected heat at the end of your harvest help?
Jeff Leve: You’re one of the few growers in the Right Bank with Carmeneres in your vineyard. When did you harvest that variety and where do you use it?
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “We harvested the Carmeneres almost two weeks after the Cabernet Sauvignon. We use it in Virgine Valandraud”.
Jeff Leve: What date did you start and finish harvesting in 2011?
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “We waited patiently waited for our grapes to reach the right concentration before harvesting. We started on September 7 and managed to finish October 13. This is about two weeks earlier than usual. We normally start about September 20”.
Jeff Leve: With 2011 Bordeaux being an earlier harvest than usual, what will that do to the style of your wine?
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “From my recent tastings, 2011 Bordeaux seems to be a mix of two Bordeaux vintages; 2007 for the smoothness and 2009 for the maturity and sucrosité”.
Jeff Leve: Did the drought present you with any unique challenges with the 2011 Bordeaux harvest?
Jean-Luc Thunevin “2011 is a dangerous vintage. We lived through draught, rain and a lot of sun, all in that order. The draught did not impact our vineyard very much, because we have different terroirs. With each terroir, we performed specific work in the vineyards and we were lucky in our choices. The entire Right Bank of Bordeaux seems to be a success so far and yes, this includes not just St. Emilion, but Pomerol as well!”
Jeff Leve: How much of your 2011 Bordeaux harvest was attacked by Botrytis?
Jean Luc Thunevin: “As far as rot is concerned, this is the first year I saw this much. Fortunatly, the sun during the harvest has cleaned a lot of it and helped to prevent a great loss. We only lost roughly 5 % of the harvest to rot. We sorted the harvest both in the vineyard and in the cellars”.
Jeff Leve: What did you do to combat any rot?
Jean Luc Thunevin; “We only made 2 treatments in 2011 to prevent and stop the rot invasion. As you know, I am not very fond of such treatments just before the harvest”.
Jeff Leve: “How much sorting did you do with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean Luc Thunevin: “2011 Bordeaux is about sorting, sorting and more sorting. We sorted in the vineyards and in the cellars. Since the 2007 vintage, we have been using the Tribaie sorting machine which allows helps us remove more of the bad grapes based on levels of sugar concentration in the berries. The machine performs densimetric sorting which is based on the desired levels of ripeness and sugar levels”.
Jeff Leve: What are you doing in the cellars at the moment with the fermentation?
Jean Luc Thunevin: “We are now able to adapt the maceration needed to each specific vat. Things are going well. We have potential alcohol of 13.5 to 14.5, depending on the variety and an average pH of 3.60”.
Jeff Leve: What is going on with your 2011 Rhone harvest at the moment?
Jean-Luc Thunevin: “We have good quantity and quality this year in the Roussillon. Our yields are around 35 hl / ha. It will be important to taste these wines after malolactic, the balance for many of our wines will be less “Southern” than usual”.