Second Wines

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

second wines, are wines made from batches of wine or parcels of vines considered not good enough for the principal product, or grand vin, made at an estate. The phenomenon was born in bordeaux in the 18th century, and was revived in the early 20th century at Ch lafite but was hardly developed commercially until the 1980s, when increased competition forced ever more rigorous selection at the assemblage stage. Some of the more famous second wines are Ch latour’s Les Forts de Latour, supplied by vineyards specifically designated for this purpose, and Ch margaux’s Pavillon Rouge. So important has the quality of second wines become that both these first growths also sell a third wine. The branded wine mouton cadet began life as the second wine of Ch mouton rothschild, which much more recently created Le Petit Mouton as its modern second wine. Second wines are likely to contain the produce of young vines together with the least satisfactory lots. In particularly unsuccessful vintages, some properties make no grand vin at all so that the second wine, or second vin, is the only wine produced that year. In general, a second wine from a poor vintage (when a grand vin was also bottled) is rarely an exciting drink, but a second wine from a quality-conscious producer in a good vintage can represent good value—so long as it is not consumed alongside the grand vin.