In Bordeaux, a second wine is:

A. A wine that is classified between the First Growths and the Third Growths

B. A wine produced by a château that is less expensive than the château’s grand vin

C. A wine that is released again several years after the initial release

D. A limited, extremely expensive, wine produced by a château


To make its grand vin, or best wine, a top Bordeaux château will blend together only its very finest lots of wine, usually from the most well-sited vineyard plots and the oldest vines. What happens to all the other lots? In many cases, the château makes a second wine, which will have its own brand name and its own distinct label. (It’s important to note here that a second wine is not the same as a Second Growth.) Usually made by the same winemaker in essentially the same manner as the grand vin, the second wine will be less expensive, although alas, not inexpensive (several cost more than $100 a bottle). Still, for many savvy wine drinkers, buying second wines is a smart strategy.

Often, the label on a second wine does not reveal the château it came from, but the name may be close enough to tell. Lastly, there’s one case wherein a mass market wine might seem like a second wine but isn’t. Mouton Cadet is decidedly not the second wine of Château Mouton Rothschild, but rather, a very cheap, basic quaff.  Château Mouton Rothschild costs 110 times more than Mouton Cadet.

Some of the best second wines and the châteaux they come from:

  • Le Carillon de L’Angélus (Château Angélus)
  • Carruades de Lafite (Château Lafite Rothschild)
  • Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (Château Haut-Brion)
  • La Croix de Beaucaillou (Château Ducru-Beaucaillou)
  • Echo de Lynch-Bages (Château Lynch-Bages)
  • Les Forts de Latour (Château Latour)
  • Les Pagodes de Cos (Château Cos d’Estournel)
  • Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux (Château Margaux)
  • Le Petit Cheval (Château Cheval Blanc)
  • Reserve de la Comtesse (Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande)
  • Le Petit Lion de Las Cases (Château Léoville-Las Cases)

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