2012 Valandraud, St-Emilion (Pre-Arrival)
Barrel sample. Promoted to Saint-Emilion’s elite Premier Grand Cru Classé category, Valandraud's 2012 shows both a mineral character and intense acidity to go with the smooth and beautiful black currant fruits. Power and elegance.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Opaque, fully saturated, practically impenetrable inky-ruby; this may be the darkest wine of the vintage. Deep, brooding aromas of dark berries and cherry are complicated by herbs, graphite and licorice. Chewy, rich flavors of cassis, plum, flint and herbs. The extremely long finish coats the palate with youthfully chewy yet noble tannins. Great stuff. It may surprise some that Valandraud this year is 100% merlot, but insiders know that the 2007 version was also made entirely from merlot. Thunevin didn't feel that the cabernet franc was ripe enough to go into his top wine in 2012, so he put it all into the Virginie de Valandraud--which is actually a fairly remarkable wine too, so his cabernet franc couldn't have been that bad. This is one of my favorite wines of the vintage.
This is well-endowed, with thick, velvety layers of crushed fig, boysenberry and blackberry fruit that meld with racy graphite notes. Lots of licorice root and alder accents line the finish, giving the fruit a textural contrast. The length lets everything sail on. A beauty. Best from 2017 through 2030.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The flagship wine from Jean-Luc Thunevin and his partner, Murielle, the 2012 Valandraud is a classic St.-Emilion. Its opaque ruby/purple color is accompanied by notes of camphor, charcoal, black currants, black raspberries, chocolate and espresso. The oak, acidity and ripe tannin are all well-integrated. Another over-performer from this couple, it should drink nicely for 12-15 years.
A dense wine for the vintage with layers of fruit and tannins. Full body, with velvety tannins and a juicy finish. Ripe and pretty.
Fabulous colour of elderberry juice. Restrained but hints at classy fruit. Juicy and dense and yet so fluid. One of the best Valandrauds I have tasted. Firm, dense and yet light on its feet. Fabulous and very long and so much to come. Drink 2017-2032. 18/20 points.
* (For now...) Tight dark purple and black fruits, very concentrated and linear. One of the youngest-showing and most difficult wines to taste of the vintage at this stage in its early life, but all the elements are there. Very nice that they have lowered the price in this very good Right Bank vintage. (Ralph Sands, K&L Bordeaux expert)