Deuxieme Vin” in French

With the great Bordeaux becoming more and more pricy every year, it is only natural to look occasionally for bargains, and there may be no better wine bargains available today than the “second wines” of the great Chateaux of Bordeaux. There are certain rules that govern the making of such wines. In addition to being made from grapes that grow in the same vineyard, second wines must be made by the same winemakers and in the same cellars and barrels in which the great wine of the Chateau is made.

There are, of course, differences between the great wine of a chateau and its second wine. Because vines younger than ten or twelve years yield grapes that do not have the concentration and aging ability required by the great wine, the grapes from the younger vines are often set aside to go into the second wines. More than this, at times, perhaps due to the vagaries of the weather, some of the mature vines do not produce just the right style or quality required by the great wine, and these too can be set aside for second wines. Finally, because some of the more mature vines in a given year produced wine that just doesn’t fit into the pattern of this particular vintage, those grapes will also make their way into the second wine.

There are advantages to buying seconds, not the least of which is that second wines always cost less than half of what one would have to pay for the great wine from the same chateau. Another advantage is that because they rely heavily on grapes from young vines, second wines mature more rapidly and are ready to drink more quickly, giving you a hint within four or five years of the greatness that the glorious great wines may take twenty years to attain. Another advantage is that in great vintage years the gap in quality between the great wine and the second can be very narrow, the differences being in aging potential, complexity and elegance.

The idea of second wines is not a new one. Château Leoville- Les-Cases produced its first Clos du Marquis in 1904, and Château Margaux made its first Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux in 1908. The present importance of such wines is a recent development however, only about twenty years old. More and more grapes are being harvested; higher and higher prices are being asked so winemakers have a duty to ensure the highest possible standard for their great wines. This in turn means that more and better second wines are now being offered, frequently at very reasonable prices, and are definitely worth considering.

The 2000 Vintage in Bordeaux

Here is an opportunity to acquire wines of high pedigrees from great producers without having to take out a second mortgage. Here are some good examples of some Second Wines:

From Château Haut Bages Liberal

La Chapelle de Bages, Pauillac

From Château Ducru Beaucaillou

Lacoste-Borie, Pauillac

From Château Leoville Poyfferé

Pavillon des Connétables, St Julien

From Château Chasse-Spleen

L’Ermitage de Chasse Spleen, Moulis

From Château Ducru Beaucaillou

La Croix de Beaucaillou St. Julien

From Château Monbousquet

Angelique de Monbousquet, Grand Cru St. Émilion

From Château Ducru Beaucaillou

*Chateau Lalande Borie, St Julien

From Château Nenin

*Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol

From Château Montrose

*La Dame de Montrose, St Estephe

From Château Angelus

*Le Carillon de l’Angélus St. Émilion

From Château Grand Puy Lacoste

*Lacoste Borie, Pauillac

From Château Lafite Rothschild

Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac

From Château Ausone

Chapelle d’Ausone, St Emilion Grand Cru

From Château Haut Brion

Bahans Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan

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