Virginie de Valandraud Blanc 2019
• Domaine: Château Valandraud
• Appellation: Bordeaux Blanc
• Classification: Blanc, Bordeaux
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Virginie de Valandraud Blanc is the hard-to-find Second Wine of the legendary Château Valandraud. It is created by one of the most powerful couples in the world of wine, Jean-Luc Thunevin – affectionately known as, “the bad boy of Bordeaux,” and his talented wife, Murielle Andraud. This forward-thinking couple kept some of the top Bordeaux producers on their toes with their groundbreaking ideas, butting heads with the rigorously enforced traditions within Saint-Émilion. Virginie de Valandraud Blanc hosts a stunning floral, tropical quality, making it a truly unique wine from the Right Bank.
Prior to becoming a vigneron, Jean-Luc was a successful négociant. In 1989, Jean-Luc and Murielle purchased a small 0.6 hectare plot close to Château Pavie Macquin. They purchased an additional 1.2 hectares of vines a bit further east in Saint Sulpice. The name, “Valandraud,” is an interesting one. The “Val,” portion comes from the location where the grapes are planted, a place called Vallon de Fongaban. The latter portion of the name, “Andraud,” is the last name of Jean-Luc’s wife, Murielle. Murielle makes all the wine for Château Valandraud while Jean-Luc runs the business and is the face of the operation.
Château Valandraud was the property that started the garagiste movement in modern winemaking. Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle started their winemaking operation with no money, so they made their first few vintages in a garage, hence the name garagiste. The plucky couple started breaking the rules fairly early on. In the 2002 vintage, Jean-Luc covered his vines with plastic tarping to protect them from potential water damage during the rainy season before harvest. The French National Institute of Appellations forbade this practice and declassified his wine as table wine in retaliation. They also forbade Jean-Luc and Murielle from putting their name on the bottles. No matter for the plucky power couple, as they simply sold their wines as, "L’Interdit de V…D." The label translates as "The Forbidden of V & D". Its use was pioneered by the fashion house Givenchy as a brand for a new perfume launched in 1957. Who is to be fooled?
Everybody who knew Château Valandraud knew this clever labeling hack would be their way of skirting around the rules and regulations. This earned Jean-Luc the title of the Bad Boy of Saint-Émilion. Château Valandraud was catapulted into the stratosphere when it was classified as a Saint-Émilion Premiere Crus Classés Class B property in 2012, a triumph for the estate.
For Virginie de Valandraud Blanc, the vines come from a 2-hectare parcel of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon. For the Thunevins, a Second Wine isn’t just a Second Wine, it’s a wine that is able to stand on its own merit. White varietals are not allowed to be classified within the region of Saint-Émilion, but after reading about Jean Luc and Murielle, ask yourself – when have rules ever stopped this couple from producing extraordinary wine? Virginie de Valandraud Blanc is a world class white Bordeaux, perfect for the inner rulebreaker in all of us.
"I loved the 2019 Château Valandraud Virginie De Valandraud Blanc, a beauty well worth seeking. Honeyed melon, quince, white flowers, and a touch lemon blossom all define the bouquet, and it's medium-bodied, beautifully balanced, and has both acidity and richness." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 91-93
"The 2019 Virginie de Valandraud Blanc rolls effortlessly out of the glass with notes of white peaches, fresh grapefruit and lime leaves plus hints of yuzu, chalk dust and lemon drops. The medium-bodied palate is crisp, clean and purely fruited with bags of fresh lemons and stone fruit flavors with a zesty finish." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, Rating (89-94)