Another head-turning wine from Jean-Luc is his 2018 Château Valandraud, which is mostly Merlot blended with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Its dense purple hue is followed by an incredible array of smoky black and blue fruits supported by notes of tobacco leaf, white chocolate, candied orange, and spice. This beauty has a deep, rich, powerful style yet holds onto a beautiful sense of purity and freshness, possessing ripe yet present tannins, plenty of textbook Saint-Emilion minerality, flawless balance, and a gorgeous finish. It reminds me of a slightly more approachable, elegant version of the 2016. Either way, it's rock star stuff. It can be drunk today with pleasure yet deserves 4-6 years of bottle age and will keep for 20-25+.
98 points, Jeb Dunnuck (Mar 2021)
This is really rich and intense with beautiful blackberry, violet and blueberry aromas that follow through to a full-bodied palate with extremely polished tannins that caress your palate. Love the texture and purity to the wine. Fantastic. Try after 2025.
98 points, James Suckling (Mar 2021)
The 2018 Valandraud is every bit as compelling as it was from barrel, maybe more. Power and vertical, with tons of explosive energy, the 2018 dazzles right out of the gate. Inky dark cherry, plum, chocolate, spice, new leather, licorice and chocolate all race across the palate. The 2018 is a wine of tremendous stature that distinguishes itself in a vintage peppered with stunning wines. I would allow for a few years in bottle to help the tannins soften. I loved it.
97+ points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous (Mar 2021)
This release continues the great run of vintages from this estate, based in the eastern part of Saint-Emilion. Powerful tannins are echoed by sumptuous black-plum and berry flavors. The high alcohol shows in the density although this concentrated wine does stay comfortably in balance. It needs plenty of aging. Don’t drink before 2027.
97 points, Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast (May 2021)
Deep purple-black in color, the 2018 Valandraud is still sporting a fair bit of oak on the nose, with the cedary notions giving way to a profound core of Black Forest cake, stewed plums and boysenberry preserves, plus suggestions of espresso, clove oil, unsmoked cigars and charcuterie with a waft of Chinese five spice. The full-bodied palate is jam-packed with rich black fruit preserves, framed by sturdy tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and tinged with exotic spices. It will need a good 5-6 years for everything to marry and for the nuances to be fully expressed, then enjoy it over the next 25+ years.
96+ points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (Mar 2021)