Elite Wines at Unbeatable Prices - Explore Second Wines Today!


Elite Wines at Unbeatable Prices - Explore Second Wines Today!

Wine Team New York |

Are you seeking to fill your cellar with bottles made by some of the world’s most prestigious estates and vineyards at a fraction of the price you’d usually pay for such pedigree? The first place you should look is at second wines.

Second wines originated in Bordeaux, where the practice began as early as the 17th century.

Production of these secondary bottlings took off in the 1980s in response to growing competition and has since spread beyond Bordeaux to premiere estates in many of the world’s most elite categories, from Super Tuscans to Napa Cabernets.

The appeal for buyers is undeniable: Second wines are typically crafted from the same vineyards as the flagship wine, made by the same talented winemaking teams, treated to elevages that allow for earlier drinking windows—and priced at half or a quarter of their big brothers.

Today, many are star bottlings in their own right, boasting devoted fan followings and high scores from critics.

Below you’ll find eight of the greatest second wines on the market, ranging from iconic releases from Bordeaux First Growths to fabulous values from California’s blue-chip houses. Second in name only, these wines marry pedigree and affordability like almost nothing else on the market.

2019 Eisele Vineyard: Napa Valley, 'Altagracia' Cabernet Sauvignon

At this benchmark Calistoga estate which has cultivated fruit for famous Robert Mondavi and Joseph Phelps bottlings, the Altagracia is a gorgeous Bordeaux blend from the vineyard’s eastern parcels. Modeled after the flagship Cabernet in depth, muscularity, and generous use of new French oak treatment, it’s California gold at a steal of a price.

2016 Chapelle d’Ausone, Saint-Emilion

Here is one of the great, most famous second wines of Bordeaux, crafted by the iconic Saint-Émilion estate Château Ausone. Made from specific parcels of the Ausone vineyard in a legendary Bordeaux vintage, it offers the kind of power, depth, and intensity that you’d expect from a Grand Vin.

2010 Croix de Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien

It’s almost a misnomer to call this a second wine, considering that many wineries would give a wine this complete and profound top billing in their own line-ups. The Château Ducru-Beaucaillou’s little sibling cuvée is harvested from a single parcel on the northern part of the estate in Saint-Julien. A Left Bank jewel featuring additional aging, this release has earned the right to be judged on its own terms.

2016 L’Esprit de Chevalier Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

Frequently cited as one of the top second wines in the world, this bottling from Pessac-Léognan’s Domaine de Chevalier gives you the power and elegance of the aristocratic Grand Vin bottling, vinified for immediate accessibility, plushness, and pleasure.

2017 Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac

Château Mouton Rothschild’s second wine is among the most formidable and sought-after offerings in the category. Blended from younger vines on the iconic Pauillac gravel vineyards, pour this blind and you could fool most into thinking that they’re drinking one of Bordeaux’s most celebrated wines.

2020 Orneillaia: Toscana, 'Massetino'

Orneillaia carries an almost royal weight in the realm of Super Tuscans. That makes the historic Italian winery’s second wine—a 100% Merlot from a single vineyard that costs considerably less than the flagship offering—a serious hot ticket item. Hard to find in great vintages, it’s not to be missed.

2019 Dominus: Napa Valley, 'Napanook'

One of just three wines produced by this Napa powerhouse, the Napanook is a fraction of the price of the estate’s top bottling and acclaimed as one of the best buys in the region. Made from a classic Napa vineyard in Yountville and richly enveloped in 40% new French oak, this bold beauty stands on its own.

2018 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, Margaux

One of the world’s most historic second wines, Château Margaux has been making this cuvée since the 17th century! The name Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux became official in 1908, and in the modern era it’s become a highly coveted release, frequently shocking critics and collectors with its off-the-charts quality.

More wines that over-deliver:

2019 Giuseppe e Figlio Mascarello: Barbera d’Alba Superiore, ‘Scudetto’

Collectors know this estate as one of the most famous and iconic producers in Barolo—but the Barbera d’Alba Scudetto is the sleeper hit that value-savvy, Italian buyers swear by. Sourced from a shield-shaped vineyard in the famous Perno hamlet of Monteforte d’Alba, it’s a scene-stealer that delivers the fine-boned finesse that Barolo drinkers crave.

2018 Antoine Jobard: Bourgogne Blanc

Antoine Jobard is in the conversation as one of the greatest producers in Meursault. It’s to the estate’s credit that they also craft an absolute stunner in the humbler category of Bourgogne Blanc. A blend of four organic vineyard parcels in Meursault—Herbeaux, En l’Ormeau, La Monatine, Sous la Velle—this rare, supple Chardonnay magnificently over-delivers at the price point.

2018 Domaine Michel Lafarge: Bourgogne, Pinot Noir

A beloved “baby Volnay,” Lafarge Michel’s Bourgogne Rouge is a thrillingly pure expression of Old World Pinot Noir that could easily be mistaken for a top cru offering. Vines planted over 50 years ago bestow this bottle with a robust elegance that makes it one of the region’s preeminent smart buys.

2018 Poderi Aldo Conterno: Langhe, 'Il Favot' Nebbiolo

Many buyers assume a wine labeled as Langhe Nebbiolo implies a step down in quality from a wine classified as Barolo. Poderi Aldo Conterno’s Il Favot could change their minds. Boasting its own cult following, this Langhe favorite is classic, pure, immediate Nebbiolo at its best—no decade-long wait in the cellar required.

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