Following the release of Chateau Palmer 2017, the leading St. Emilion, Chateau Valandraud released. In 2017, Valandraud has been awarded 94-95 points from James Suckling, 95-97 from the Wine Enthusiast and 93-96 from the Wine Spectator, with James Molesworth saying; ‘Offers a gorgeous feel, ample depth, lovely polish and fine underlying acidity throughout. A terrific effort.’ The release price this morning is £1,200 per case of 12, or £600 per case of six. This marks a 23% discount on 2016, yet the current trading price of the higher scoring 2015. If aficionados are building a vertical, or with good reason are perennial buyers the price will work, but for true value, older vintage like the 2015, or even the 2014 have a higher Suckling score, yet a similar price.
Valandraud is a young Estate, dating back to 1989 when Jean-Luc Thunevin and Murielle Andraud purchased a very small premium 0.6 hectare plot of vines next to Pavie Macquin and La Clotte. They have since increased the size of the property which now covers 10 hectares. The Estate’s name comes from a combination of the location of the vines, Vallon ‘Val’ de Fongabon, and the last name of Murielle Andraud, chief winemaker.
In recognition of the amazing wines the Estate have been producing, Valandraud was upgraded to Premier Grand Cru Classes B in 2012, putting it alongside some of the greats of St Emilion, including Canon, La Mondotte, Pavie Macquin, Figeac and Troplong Mondot. In fact, only 14 of the many great Estates in St Emilion have this accolade. Valandraud is an Estate which continues to go from strength to strength and as such offers a very attractive vintage premium.
The whites in 2017 are excellent, on par with 2015 and 2016 and in a few cases surpassing them, although perhaps not as homogenous. Sauternes in 2017 are probably most like 2011, there is some good botrytis and more acidity than 2015, with a little purity of fruit and tropical power of 2014. Chateau Coutet has also released this morning at £290 per case of 12 or £145 per case of six, a 9% discount to last year’s release price. As can be seen from the table below, Coutet show good vintage premium, it pays to buy on release. Coutet 2017 is a very fine example of this top Sauternes Estate, which James Suckling describes as having ‘Lots of powdered mushrooms, dried lemons and apricots. Full-bodied, dense and layered. Beautiful finish. A top sweet white for the vintage.” He has awarded it 93-94 points, just behind the 2015 and 2016.
Chateau Coutet is one of the oldest Sauternes producing vineyards and classified as Premier Cru (First Growth). Thomas Jefferson noted it was the best Sauternes originating from Barsac. It is cited perfectly between the Garonne and Ciron Rivers, thereby benefiting from a wonderful micro-climate creating autumn mists that spread Botrytis cinerea. The 38 hectare vineyard is planted with 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Muscadelle. Coutet has the largest winery in Sauternes, with a 110 metre long cellar, which houses more than 800 barrels. In good years the Estate produces around 4,500 cases of the Grand Vin.
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