WHAT IS A SUPER SECOND IN BORDEAUX?

December 9th, 2013

What is a super second in Bordeaux?

This used to be a much easier question to answer. Coming immediately to mind were La Mission, Leoville Las Cases, Pichon Lalande, Ducru Beaucaillou and Palmer. What about the Right Bank?

A while ago it referred to those properties that might be close to challenging for a First Growth status if an updated 1855 classification was established. In other words to join Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion and since 1973 Mouton. Since then the so called First Growths have often been expanded to include Ausone & Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion and Petrus in Pomerol to make an Envious Eight. Remember during especially the seventies and eighties that the First Growths were not always the best wines of the vintage. A few examples: 1990 Montrose over Mouton, 1983 Pichon Lalande over Latour, 1978 Las Cases over Lafite, 1978 La Mission over Haut Brion, and 1970 Palmer over Margaux. Over the years the First Growths have effectively raised their prices by such substantial amounts that they now really separate themselves from all the other Bordeaux wines including the old Super Seconds. Moreover all of them now are doing a fantastic selection of what goes into that Grand Vin.

Today it is a very controversial question. This question became more than moot last month when we organized a BYOB Super Second dinner for our La Commanderie de Bordeaux chapitre Vancouver. It was impossible to get agreement on what properties were eligible to be brought along. I felt we should extend the new definition for the Left Bank to include Cos, Montrose, Pichon Baron, recent Pontet Canet since 1995 and older Gruaud Larose (61, 62, 64, 66, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86 and 90). Even harder to draw the line on the Right Bank. In the end it was thrown even more wide open with the Right Bank left for a 2014 event (except for a ringer of a powerful 1996 L’Evangile). Disturbing that badly corked bottles included 95 Pichon Lalande, 93 Leoville Las Cases, 1985 Ducru Beaucaillou, and 83 Pichon Lalande. However, from over 30 wines there the 1982 Pichon Lalande, 1989 Palmer, and 1990 Montrose were leading the pack just ahead of 1982 Cos, 1985 Gruaud Larose, and 1989 Pichon Lalande. Super Seconds!

Please help us determine this current definition by posting your comments.

What's your favorite Super Second Bordeaux?

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December 9th, 2013

One Response

  1. Don’t really understand how you’re defining “Super Second” for the vote. Includes LaTour, Lafite, Margaux and Haut Brion which most people consider firsts. Doesn’t include Mouton. Skips some obvious contenders like Cos. Given today’s prices, the only Bordeaux I drink are the Super Seconds. I got an email today for the “2010 Lafite Rothschild at the best price in the US” at $999.50. I don’t know who buys that other than speculators. If you believe, as I do, that you shouldn’t drink this wine for 20 years and that you should earn an equity-like return to store a wine rather than buy it in 20 years, that bottle will have to appreciate to $8000 in 20 years (at 10%). How many excuses does one have to drink a $8000 bottle of wine? 65th birthday? 50th wedding anniversary? Sale of your modern art collection? Not too many. These prices are unsustainable. Probably being sold to guys for Bitcoins and baseball cards.

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