Second Label Wines – Excellence and Value

Hey, being second ain’t so bad? The Godfather part 2, The Dark Knight, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Clay Aiken (Ok, you got me)

Most premier wine makers have what they call second labels. The idea is similar in concept to clothing designer second labels i.e. Armani / Armani Exchange.

The upshot for us, the consumer, is an excellent wine at an affordable price.

WHAT IS A SECOND LABEL WINE?

Second wine, or Second label wine (Second Vin) is a term commonly used to refer to wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand Vin, or first label. An age-old practice traditionally associated with Bordeaux wines, though common all over the world today.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Typically only premier winemakers have second label wine offerings. In most instances, the production of a second label wine exactly mirrors the production of that estate’s Grand Vin, being made from the same vineyard, using the same blend of grapes, by the same winemaker. You can usually pick one of these gems up for around $20-$50.

SO WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Generally, second label wines are less polished and structured than the estate’s Grand Vin. Sometimes they’re from less-desirable vineyard blocks, use less-expensive or used barrels (or alternatives to barrels) and cheaper bottles, corks and labels. Most typically are made from the fruit that didn’t make the winemaker’s highest standards set for the Grand Vin.

Some premier winemaking estates may not even promote their second label wines. In some cases the parent estate is not even mentioned on the labels.

SOME NOTABLE SECOND LABELS

  1. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
  2. Meridian by Beringer
  3. Overture by Opus One
  4. Mouton Cadet by Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  5. Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild By Chateau Lafite-Rothschild

 

 

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