The story of Verdillac is really the story of the French “negociant” firm, Maison Armand Roux. This highly reputable company dates back to 1842. Its founder, Armand Roux, traveled extensively to Belgium and Holland, where he developed a clientele of well-to-do wine lovers. Visiting each of them once a year, he would conduct two simple transactions. First, he would take an order for the current year’s wine requisites and, second, he would pick up a check for the previous year’s delivery. Oh, for the good old days of honesty, integrity and trust in business!
A negociant (i.e., “one who negociates”) is a respected wine merchant who buys grapes and/or wines and sees to it that they are vinified and/or blended into excellent wine values. Bringing them to maturity, packaging them attractively, and shipping them to an appreciative, and very often quite loyal, following of customers, are part and parcel of the profession.
Today, a distinguished Selection Committee collaborates to assemble Maison Armand Roux’s Bordeaux “brand”, Verdillac. Committee members include both the directors of Roux’s French and U.S. marketing organizations, plus Professor Pascal RibereauGayon (Chairman of the Department of Oenology at the University of Bordeaux), as well as several winery executives and winemakers. The Committee prohibits the production of Verdillac in poor vintages. They did not make any in ’77, ’80, ’84, or ’87. In good years the members evaluate up to fifty lots of wine, some straight varietals and some already mixed, to create the master assemblage.
White Bordeaux wine is, usually, a blend of two main grapes, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, both indigenous to the region, with several other lesser local varieties thrown in to stretch it. Verdillac, however, contains only the noble Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, approximately 50/50. The former lends herbaceous aromas, plus full body. The latter contributes fruitiness and elegant texture.
This example shows a clear green/gold color. The nose is fragrant with ripe green grapes, green plums and figs. Medium-bodied, delightfully round in the mouth, dry, yet seductively mellow, it finishes completely smooth, with a little tongue-drying tannin and a refreshing green grape aftertaste.
Serve chilled with light fish courses or sauteed chicken breast fillets.
Cellaring Notes: Ready now. Enjoy through 1993.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper