For most of us, times have been tough and a bottle of one of the best Bordeaux wines is too steep to even dream about buying. Most people cannot even begin to rationalize paying $300, $600, or even $1000-plus for a single bottle of wine. Truth is, even in better times, or for those who can still imagine spending that much, it would be hard to pull the trigger if the situation arose. So how are we to partake in the craft that these amazing wine houses put forth?
The Answer: Bordeaux Second Wines!
The craft of wine making in Bordeaux is one that demands perfection. Only the best grapes go into the estate wines. This would obviously leave a lot of waste if the remaining grapes went unused or sold to lesser crafters. The question was asked, “what do we do with all of the grapes that are still excellent, but not perfect?” The answer came in the 18th Century, when Bordeaux’s major wine houses began using these grapes to create their “second” wines.
Bordeaux Seconds are an opportunity for us, mere monetarily restricted mortals, to enjoy wines crafted by the elites. Names such as Château Latour, Château Margaux, and Château Petrus (just to name a few), are now available to us without the need to shell out a weeks or months worth of pay! The best part, you sacrifice little in terms of quality and complexity! Using Wine Spectator's ratings as a guide, the 2004 Château Petrus was rated 93 points and would run you around $900. Now compare that to their second wine, Château La Fleur-Petrus, of the same vintage. It will run you around $80 and is rated 92 points, that's less then 1/10 the cost! If that is not a deal then I don’t know what is?! Examples such as this are not uncommon and Bordeaux Seconds are carried quite readily by wine merchants and liquor stores for this reason.
Here is a list of some of the Estates and their corresponding Second wines:
Bordeaux First Growths:
Château Latour - Les Forts de Latour
Château Margaux - Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux
Château Mouton-Rothschild - Le Petit Mouton
Château Haut-Brion - Bahans Haut-Brion
Château Lafite-Rothschild - Carrudades de Lafite-Rothschild
Other Bordeaux (a little more affordable and just as enjoyable):
Château Lynch-Bages – Château Haut-Bages Averous ($25-40)
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou - La Croix de Beaucaillou ($25-40)
Château Petrus - Château La Fleur-Petrus ($60-95)
Château Palmer - Alter Ego de Palmer ($70-100)
The next time you are looking for a special occasion or gift wine, keep an eye out for Bordeaux Seconds. They have all of the prestige and quality without the astronomically high price! I hope you have a chance to enjoy one of these at some point. You will not be disappointed.