2017 and the Onward Rise of Bordeaux Second Wines… An Introduction

We all like premium wines. But occasionally, we all have to trade down to more affordable, drinkable options, like perhaps a second wine? The rise in popularity of premium Bordeaux second wines in the international fine wine marketplace is not necessarily a trend that began in 2016 but it is certainly one which solidified further and gained a massive amount of extra momentum.

This trend was confirmed by year end trading figures on the Liv-ex Fine Wine Exchange, with a massive increase in purchasing of a wide spectrum of second labels, primarily from premium or super premium Chateaux names.

The fine wine crash of 2011 not only brought a stark dose of reality back to an over heated, over priced, over ambitious Bordeaux market, but also massive, sustained loses for buyers of En-primeur from 2010, 11, 12, 13, and 14… with only a glimmer of respite emerging with the 2015 releases and the post-Brexit, post-pound depreciation fine wine gold rush that commenced in Mid-2016. 

So this second wine popularity trend perhaps has its true origins in the price rises of 2009-10… two exceptional, though expensive, vintages where the quality of many top Chateaux second wines were as good if not better than the first wines from previous lesser vintages like 2006, 07, or even 08. 

Producing and selling through €150-300 Euro per bottle first wines with potential production volumes of 5,000 to 10,000 cases (not bottles), was never going to be easy in a world approaching its 9th year of austerity economics. Cleverly, Chateaux realised if they reduced production of the first wines down to 2,000 or 3,000 cases, and upped the production and quality of second wines at lower, more accessible prices, they could successfully maintain the super premium prices and perceived scarcity value of their first wines.

So which Chateaux second wines offer the consumer good value for money? Over the coming weeks and months in the lead up to En-primeur 2016 in April, I’ll be tasting an ongoing series of second wines to see if I can strike vinous gold. I hope you will join me on this fine wine safari!

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