A veteran of the U.S. and global wine trade for more the two decades, as director of the Americas for Compagnie Médocaine Des Grands Crus (a leading Bordeaux négociant), Nancy Rugus has a unique perspective on wine trends in both France and the U.S. Wine Enthusiast talked to Rugus about the 2011 harvest from this renowned viticultural corner in southwest France.
Wine Enthusiast: The 2011 Bordeaux harvest is in, what are your impressions?
Nancy Rugus: Individual properties indicate they had a lot of work to do because the weather did not cooperate. But many are very satisfied with the results so far, especially those who made a strong selection. It’s really too early to say what the final results will be, but I’m sure most everyone agrees it will not be another 2005, 2009 or 2010.
WE: What are the most noteworthy trends you have seen in the U.S.?
NR: Younger people are now discovering Bordeaux, and sommeliers everywhere are finding good Bordeaux values for their by-the-glass programs and passing on their enthusiasm to their customers.
WE: What are perhaps the most overlooked bargains from Bordeaux today?
NR: Second wines from famous Bordeaux chateaus offer incredible quality: Les Tourelles de Longueville from Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Vivens from Château Durfort-Vivens, Echo de Lynch Bages from Château Lynch-Bages, Castelnau de Suduiraut from Château Suduiraut and so on. For pure pleasure, some of the best values are coming from family-owned vineyards—Châteaux Saint-Sulpice, du Taillan, Dubourg, Nicot, Castera, among others.
WE: What about dry whites from Bordeaux, what values are there to look for?
NR: The whites of Bordeaux are predominantly Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon blends, the best of which offer a crisp, clean and refreshing style very suitable to all shellfish and seafood. There are many good value whites, particularly from Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves, and Pessac Leognan. Châteaux Nicot, l’Hoste Blanc and a slightly more complex La Dame Blanche are particular standouts for value.
Five Easy Pieces from Bordeaux
Here is a quintet of affordable Bordeaux ready to drink now and widely available, according to Nancy Rugus of Compagnie Médocaine:
2008 Château Haut-Vigneau, $22.99
2006 Château Bourbon La Chapelle, $14.99
2007 Château Tour Pibran, $34.99
2010 Château Nicot Blanc, $13.99
2009 Château Saint-Sulpice, $14.99
David Lincoln Ross is a contributing editor at thedailybeast.com, who drinks both young and mature Bordeaux with a passion; www.davidlincolnross.com