Who's on Second?

Apr 1, 2006

I left Bordeaux and went to Basel for the annual watch show – I also write about watches but I don’t rate them – and I had dinner with some friends on Friday night in a Chinese restaurant. We had a couple of bottles of Bordeaux – Les Pagodes de Cos and Leoville Barton 2001. Both wines were delicious. The Pagodes stood up well to the Barton, although the latter was much more refined. I gave them 89 points and 91 points respectively. The Pagodes was about $60 on the wine list and the Barton $120. Which would you prefer to buy?

Hello. The second wine. No?

Second wines can be great deals. And in 2005, there are going to be so many good to excellent quality second wines that you should give them some consideration. I am not sure that it makes sense to buy them as en primeur, or futures. But there are some incredible ones. The best are the Les Forts de Latour and L’ Chapelle d’Ausone but there were many others. I have noticed some people think that I am nuts giving these two wines 95-100. But that’s the way they tasted. They were both superb wines on their own with nearly all the structure and richness of the first wines. I tasted them side-by-side with the first wines. And I thought that they would probably come close to 95 points when in bottle and the first wines nearer to 100. But that’s just my estimation. We will see when they are in bottle.

What is for sure is that they will be a fraction of the cost of the gran vin! For example, the opening US retail price in bottle for the Les Forts in 2000 was about $75 while the Latour was $475. Not a bad value. No? And I suspect there will be a similar price differential with the 2005.

May be selection for the second wine was too good in this case? But who’s complaining?

Anyway, I think that in 2005 the rule for second wines will be the better the first wine, the better the second wine. However, we will all know better when they come out in bottle in a couple of years.

France Bordeaux
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