The Cult of Second Wines
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The Cult of Second Wines

Le Petit Cheval from Chateau Cheval Blanc

Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild

A typically Bordelais concept, Second Wines benefit from the same terroir, careful attention and reputation as well as the savoir-fair of the same winemaking team as their Grand Vin counterparts. Originally dismissed as second-rate cast-offs these wines are now widely regarded as being of the highest quality. A more approachable and affordable style from the best wine producing estates, and not just in Bordeaux.

On the surface many of these wines are described merely as the wine produced from the wine not deemed of a high enough quality to be included in the Grand Vins. But this is an oversimplification  and does not give proper credit to the hard work done in the vineyards and the cellars. At their core, many of these second wines are determined merely by the age of the vines. While Bordeaux has been producing wine for hundreds of years on the same historical sites vineyards and the soil do need replenishing. To maintain the health of the vineyards most estates will pull vines after about 40 years. After a fallow period, typically that includes the planting and composting of cover crops, the vines will be replanted. But young plants only begin producing grapes in their 3rd year of life and it can take even more time for the vines to develop the deep root systems that are characteristic of great complexity. It is these young vines, which typically produce a fruiter and more approachable wine, which are used in the production of the Second wine. Often this also means that the Second Wines are ready to drink with a shorter cellaring period. But the Second Wines can also be produced from specific plots, regardless of the age of the vines.

Le Petit Cheval from Chateau Cheval Blanc

Le Petit Cheval from Chateau Cheval Blanc

Far from being a recent innovation, the historical record shows evidence of the occasional second wine being produced in the 17th Century. Modern second wines made their appearance in the early 1900s with the likes of Pavillon Rouge from Chateau Margaux and Clos du Marquis from Chateau Leoville Las Cases. But it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s that this became a popular trend among Bordeaux estates.

With today’s modern dedication to excellence not only has the overall quality of the Grand Vins increased but so too has the quality of the Second Wines. Careful attention in the vineyards is translated to the cellars. Optical sorters and multiple hand sortings ensure that only the best berries are used. Plot-by-plot vinification allows the winemaking teams greater control over the blends and the quality of each lot. All this combined means that both the Grand Vins and the Second wines have are complex and balanced, elegant and intriguing. Second wines provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the distinctive terroir and savoir-faire of the great Bordeaux estates at approachable prices and provide the perfect introduction to the world of Bordeaux wines.

Discover Great Bordeaux Second Wines

  • La Fugue de Nenin 2002
  • Connetable de Talbot 2008
  • Confidences de Prieure-Lichine 2008
  • La Demoiselle de Sociando Mallet 2008
  • L’Esprit de Chevalier 2011 (W)
  • Additional Wines
Connetable de Talbot 2008Immediately appealing this dark ruby robed wine delivers notes of current and cherry with an herbal undertone. Medium bodied and soft on the finish it is approachable and pairs well with a  wide range of food.

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Connetable de Talbot 2008 86 Points, Wine Spectator. Soft, elegant tannins are underlined by crisp notes of red fruit, particularly cranberry and currants, fresh herbs, sweet spice and a mineral touch of graphite. Dry with good acidity the wine lingers with a long finish.

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Confidences de Prieure Lichine 2008With a rich bouquet of black fruit and brambles this wine delivers a well-balanced medium bodied palate with densely packed tannins and crisp acidity. There are underlying notes of fine herbs and a touch of leafy notes.

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La Demoiselle de Sociando Mallet 2008 Deep in color with a bright nose dominated by red fruits such as strwaberry, raspberry and cherry. Smooth with soft tannins and good length the wine is refreshing. According to the estate the wine is in its prime and is great for drinking with grilled meats and charcuterie.

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L'Esprit de Chevalier 2011Pale gold in color this wine delivers a rich nose of white flowers, citrus and roasted nuts. The palate is smooth, fresh and fruity, ideal for pairing with simple white fish or shrimp.

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Additional second wines from some of the best estates in Bordeaux are available on our website from a range of 16 vintages.

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