Saturday, May 27, 2006

May 24, 2006 - Valandraud Wine Dinner

We had a chance to try some of the wines from this famous St. Emillion Garagiste during a dinner. Here are some notes from that night.

2001 Ch. La Dominique - St. Emillion
This property is just next to Cheval Blanc so it should be capable of better things in the future. Right now it is just in the drifting in the middle - not bad but not really a standout. Starting in 2005, Thunevin is going to have his hands in this so it would be interesting to taste the results. The '01 has a medium body, fruit forward although not in abundance, tanins which are okay but not really that refined - I didn't like the slight green/vegetal tinge ( just my personal prefs.) 88 points.

2004 Valandraud Blanc #2
The first vintage was in 2003 and is now overseen by his wife which used to be with Domain Leflaive; this is a typical 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillion blend. In reality, this is the 2nd wine of Valandraud blanc. Aromas are sharp, acidic, greenish. In the mouth pretty much the same, sharp acidic, thin side. Profound would not be the right word. 87-88 points.

2004 Valandraud Blanc #1
The best grapes, treatment, oak goes into this. The seconds go into #2 and you can tell the difference! From the nose it is more concentrated and there are aromas of sweet Vanilla indicative of a more generous oak treatment. The color hue is slightly deeper than #1, in the mouth it is more viscous and concentrated with a much better finish. You find it hard to go back to #2 after this. Much better. 92 points.

2001 Virginie de Valandraud
Though this is supposed to be the 2nd wine of Valandraud it really comes from another plot of land. Much more concentrated than the La Dominique and seems to have more of everything. Still some traces of green stems- you know the smell you get from tree sap when you break a branch. 89 points

1999 Valandraud
The aromas and complexity on the nose are just on another level compared to the previous wines. Ripe fruits/cassis, chocolate/cocoa, perhaps hints of coconut. In the mouth it actually had a bit less impact than on the nose. Ripe round tannins. Surprisingly forward at this point though it may benefit from a few more years of cellaring. 93 points.

2000 Le Interdite
This wine is actually a special experimental version of 2000 Valandraud but because of the interventionist methods - St. Emillion AOC appelation was rejected and it was classified as a Vin de Table!! This is probably the most expensive VdT I have seen. The interventionist measures included things like a canopy cover to shield it from rain and water bloat. A total of 10 barrels ( 250 cases ) were made in 2000. On the nose this thing was tight as a clam. Constant swirling brings no satisfaction - the trick that worked for me was to lay it done for 10 minutes and then give it a quick swirl and inhale. What I got was a super concentrated version of the '99 only so much more. Ripe berries/cassis, chocolate, leather etc... In the mouth this one did not disappoint what was hinted from the smells - the tannins are more refined and rounder than the '99. This wine is nowhere near ready and probably needs 10+ years. Right now it probably needs a good 4-5 hours of air ( maybe in a decanter ). 96+ points.

2004 Calvet-Thunevin 'Hugo'
From the Roussillon area known more for fortified wines than table wine. This is primarily a wine made from grenache. On the nose super ripe, fruit bomb, sweet and... alcoholic. For the first 30 minutes this is a bit of a "hairy" and animalistic wine. With a bit more time it tames a little - but just a bit. Impressed with the purity of the fruit and concentration though I don't know how much I can drink of this - I recall it being close or at 16%... Might be even more interesting with some bottle age. 90 points.

Oh yeah... and we had a guest at dinner too.

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