Sunday, August 21, 2011

Second wine

Second wine (or second label; in French Second vin) is a term commonly associated with Bordeaux wine to refer to a second label wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand vin or first label. Depending on the house winemaking style, individual plots of a vineyard may be selected, often those of the youngest vines, and fermented separately with the best performing barrels being chosen for the house's top wine with the other barrels being bottled under a separate label and sold for a lower price than the Grand vin.

In less favorable vintages, an estate may choose to release only a second label wine rather than to release a smaller than normal quantity of its Grand vin or a wine that would not be consistent with past vintages under that name. The practice has its roots in the 18th century but became more commercially prominent in the 1980s when consumers discovered these wines as a more affordable way to drink the product of a First growth or classified Bordeaux estate without paying the premium for the estate's label and classification.

From the producer's point of view, a second wine allows the winery to use a stricter selection for its Grand Vin, while still capitalising on its name and distribution channels in selling the second wine, which will be much more profitable than selling off lesser wine "anonymously" to be used in e.g. negociant bulk bottlings.

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