Bordeaux’s second wines affordable, exceptional

on 12/05/12 at 9:51 am

Wine

We Americans don’t realize it, but the Chinese are determining what wine we drink.

They’re not flooding the market with knockoffs or gray-market bottles. Instead, their voracious appetite for big-name Bordeaux has relegated us to buying the leftovers.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining. Bordeaux’s so-called “second wines” are exceptional, and are an affordable way to access top chateaus.

“Today they must be good because they are a true and authentic introduction to the estate,” says John Kolasa, managing director at both Château Rauzan-Ségla in Margaux and Château Canon in St. Emilion. “Your name is on the label.”

Historically, most second wines from the Médoc were sold in French supermarkets, according to Emmanuel Cruse, owner of Château d’Issan in Margaux, and few producers cared about their quality. Only a rare chateau would make a third wine; Latour, for example, introduced its third wine, labeled simply Pauillac, in 1990 to enhance the quality of its second wine, Les Forts de Latour.