What are second wines and why you should try them
Have you heard of ‘first wines’ and ‘second wines’ (and even third or more wines)? If you haven’t heard of them before and want to find out what it’s all about, read on.
Wine producers in Bordeaux, especially those classified under the 1855 Official Classification of Bordeaux Wines, invest considerable resources, exceptional care, knowledge and skill to make their Grand Cru Classé [Château Name], which is sometimes known as their ‘first wine.’
In short, first wines are made from the very best grapes, harvested when perfectly ripe, from the very best vines, from the very best parcels of land in the vineyard.
Grapes harvested from parcels of the best terroir go through a rigorous selection process to make this premium wine. From daily inspections of the vines to check ripeness levels, to bearing in mind weather conditions and forecast, all to ensure they’re harvested at the optimum time. Grapes are sorted, often more than once, sometimes by technologically-advanced optical sorters, then again by eye and hand, to make sure only the best of the best grapes are used to make their first wines.
Of course, given how exacting the selection process is, some grapes from the best parcels of land won’t quite make the grade to be used for the first wine, and so they’re sometimes used to make what’s known as a ‘second wine’.
Terroir is also a factor. Some larger estates, especially, have lots of hectares of land, which has been assessed and divided into smaller parcels of terroir that naturally varies in composition and quality. So a winemaker might traditionally use the grapes from some of their not-quite-premium terroir to make their second wine.
Age of the vines is also an important consideration. All estates will replant sections of their vineyards at some point. Some younger vines, which might be 5 to 10-years-old, and which are now producing good grapes, aren’t sufficiently mature or of quite the right quality yet for their grapes to go into the first wine. Bear in mind that some vines used to make first wines are several decades old – it’s not unusual for wines to be made from vines that are 30, 40, 50 or more years old, some vineyards have vines that were planted around a century ago!
Why You Should Try Second Wines
Second wines are usually made in the same winery as the first wine. By the same winemakers. Who know how to make really good wine. So second wines with such a great pedigree can be excellent quality.
And excellent value for money. Because they’re sold at a lower price point. That’s another good reason to try second wines, especially if you’re a bit budget conscious. While for some folk a first wine like a Grand Cru Classé Château Pédesclaux might be their go to wine of choice, for others it might be something to save and savor on a special occasion. Whereas a bottle of second wine, Fleur de Pédesclaux, might be more affordable for opening with a lovely meal and winding down at the weekend.
The Grand Cru Classé Château Pédesclaux first wine can be described as a classic Pauillac wine, with a perfect balance of powerful aromas, fruity blackcurrant and floral violet notes and the subtle hint of cigars and silky tannins. The Fleur de Pédesclaux, meanwhile, as the name suggests, has a more floral expression, with scents of white flowers and violets, also red berries.
Don’t they both sound delicious? Wouldn’t you like to try them? Well, you can. Château Pédesclaux is one of the possibilities if you choose to spend A Day In Médoc. Lots of our clients like to taste different vintages of the same wine, while others like to compare a first wine with a second wine. Or third or fourth wine – some producers make an even wider range of wines for you to try. If you’d like to know more about first and second wines, or anything else about Bordeaux wines for that matter, Bordeaux With Elodie can arrange private tours to suit your needs.