With the price of of the Bordeaux 2010 vintage likely to remain high it is worthwhile considering the Second Wines of the Grand Cru Classé and their wines from other chateaux owned by the Grand Cru estates.
With the exception of the Second Wines from the First Growths – and in particular Carruades de Lafite, which has a strong following in Asia – most Second Wines cost around a fifth of their big brothers.
The practice of making a Second Wine began in the 18th century in Bordeaux as way for winemakers to be more selective of the wine going into their Grand Vin without wasting the remaining wine.
Depending on the châteaux style, individual plots of a vineyard are selected, often those of the youngest vines, and fermented separately with the best performing barrels being chosen for the Grand Vin and other barrels being used for the Second Wine.
If you are interested in reading about the history behind the Grand Cru Classé Second Wines check out my Blog Seconds Ahead – The Second Wines of Bordeaux.
Here are my top wines from this group for 2010:
Alter Ego. Second Wine of Chateau Palmer. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot. Alcohol level 14.4%. pH 3.55. Colour a great dark crimson, on the nose it was full of fruit, quite complex.
Loads of fruit in the mouth, well structured, very nicely balanced. I’m sure that this is a wine that many chateaux would love to have as their Grand Vin.
Lacoste Borie. Second Wine of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc.
Alcohol level 13.4%. Yet again a great colour, good balance of fruit on the nose and in the mouth, very polished tannins and good long length.
This is a wine that could be considered good value as it was released last year around 14 euros.
Chateau Lalande de Borie. Third Wine of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc.
Alcohol level 13.95%. pH 3.71. Great colour. Good nose. Well rounded and a good example of a Third Wine . . . although the estate doesn’t classify it as such as they have specific parcels of vines dedicated to each brand.
Mathilde. Second Wine of Chateau La Fleur Morange. A lovely dark crimson colour, oozing loads of fruit on the nose, blackcurrants, blackberries with hints of hickory.
In the mouth these fruits are ready to explode and were very seductive. With an alcohol level of 15% there was no hint of it in the mouth or on the nose at all.
The pH was around 3.5 and made a well balanced wine with real depth. A fine example from a chateau that produces an opulent offering with grapes grown on vines of 75+ years of age.
Reserve de Comtesse. Second Wine of Chateau Pichon Lalande. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon,46% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. Alcohol level 13.4%. pH 3.76. For those who potentially can’t afford the Grand Vin from this chateau I would strongly advise that you consider the Reserve de Comtesse.
I think this is going to develop into a lovely wine from the estate. Good colour, great on the nose with hints of black cherries, blackberries and cocoa. Soft and round in the mouth, no aggressive or harsh tannins, very subtle, good fruits, good length with hints of spice. Some power. A very nice wine.
Le Petit Leon de Leoville. Second Wine of Chateau Leoville Las Cases. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Alcohol level 13.7%. pH 3.354. Dark fruits on the nose, black cherries with a hint of tobacco.
Great colour. Soft in the mouth, slight hint of tannins but they are covered with good fruits, a nicely balanced wine.
La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion. Second Wine of Chateau La Mission Haut Brion. 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc. Lovely nose with lots of fruit, plums and blackberries, nice soft tannins in the mouth, very well balanced, hints of tannins but well structured.
Le Clarence de Haut Brion. Second Wine of Chateau Haut Brion. 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Lovely colour.
On the nose a real depth of fruit, slightly alcoholic. Soft in the mouth with supple black fruits, good balance. Quite powerful and well bodied. Another very fine example from this estate.
Chapelle d’Ausone. Second Wine of Chateau Ausone. 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol level 14.5%. pH 3.53. Another success for the estate and another wine hard to find fault with.
Very well balanced, soft, sweet red berries in the mouth, good balance of tannins and acidity. A superb example.
Carillon d’Angelus. Second Wine of Chateau Angelus. 50% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol level 14%. A reasonable nose, slightly closed but it opened up in the mouth. Smooth, well balanced with good fruit coming through.
La Dame de Montrose. Second Wine of Chateau Montrose. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot. Alcohol level 13.7%. pH 3.7. Good nose, great colour, soft and complex in the mouth.
Tannins were very evident but with lots of fruit coming through the tannins were extremely well balanced. This will make a very good drinking wine in years to come.
Les Pagodes de Cos. Second Wine of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot. Alcohol level 14.13%. pH 3.51. Very nice in the mouth, well rounded, plenty of fruit, very well balanced and a nice offering.
Goulée. Third Wine of Chateau Cos d’Estournel. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot. Alcohol level 13.74%. pH 3.52. As ever the colour was superb. Good nose. Served slightly cold but soon warmed up in the mouth and presented very well. Good balance. Slightly better than the 2009.
Carruades de Lafite. Second Wine of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42.5% Merlot, 2.4% Petit Verdot, 5.1% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol level 13.5%. pH 3.7. Good nose, lots of fruit, soft in the mouth, very well rounded with soft tannins. Very good.
Le Petit Mouton. Second Wine Of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Alcohol level 14%. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc. A complex nose with good aromas. Very soft in the mouth. Tannins were very evident but the fruit comes through. Nicely balanced.
Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux. Second Wine of Chateau Margaux. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot. Alcohol level 13.5%. pH 3.65.
This is one of the first years that the Pavillon Rouge was made with 38% of the crop – the same proportion as the Grand Vin. The remaining 28% will go into the Third Wine (Chateau Margaux are still debating what to call it).
I thought the Pavillon Rouge came across as elegant. It wasn’t over powering. Nicely balanced tannins. I am sure the estate will call it a “classic” example.