A widelY-drunk second label wine
Second wines date back to the 19th century, which is particularly true for Château Margaux. But it is more or less in the last thirty years that the Second Wines of the more prestigious Bordeaux Crus Classés have earned a place on the market.
Originally, the idea of a Second Label wine was to make best use of the less popular wines, which the château was previously forced to sell wholesale to trade. By creating a second label, consumers were able to buy a reputable wine at a reasonable price that also made good financial sense to the château. But what does that mean today?
Over the years, some châteaux have continued with this idea, while others have shifted their focus…
For some wineries, selling a Second Label has become part and parcel of their business. They sell them as wines of variable quality, and some even offer a "Third Label Wine". Even if they benefit from equally painstaking growing and vinification processes, second wines are nonetheless made using younger vines.
Second Wines have often been wrongly branded as mediocre, less expressive, persistent and subtle, and lacking in bouquet. However, they are not bland or tasteless! These are wines that stand out for a style that is different from a Grand Vin.
For Châteaux Latour, Léoville-Las Cases, Lafite Rothschild or Palmer, for example, Second Wines are products made from dedicated vines, following specific vinification processes. These are wines sold at affordable prices and sometimes, they can even be better than certain Crus Classés. These wineries opt for a better quality grape selection , which means only making a "First Wine" when the vintage is exceptional enough to stand out from the Second Wine that’s made every year regardless.
Please note: it is important not to mistake "Second Wine" for "Deuxième Cru Classé" which is an 1855 classification.