What is a second wine in Bordeaux??
To make the best possible wine (known as the grand vin), a top château will blend together only its very finest lots of wine from the most mature and well-sited vineyard plots. What happens to all the other wine? In many cases, the château makes a second wine, which will be less expensive and will have its own brand name and its own distinct label. (A second wine has nothing to do with a Second Growth). Some of the best known second wines include Carruades de Lafite-Rothschild (from Château Lafite-Rothschild), Château Haut-Bages-Averous (from Château Lynch-Bages), Le Petit Cheval (from Château Cheval Blanc), and Les Forts de Latour (from Château Latour).
One outcome, in Burgundy during the French Revolution: At the end of the French Revolution, the abolition of the Ancien Régime, or Old Regime, stripped numerous privileges from the ruling classes. Larger vineyards owned by nobility and religious institutions were confiscated, divided, and re-distributed, resulting in many more producers who made much smaller amounts of wine. Interestingly, La Romanée is one of the few clos that was not divided in 1789. The Conti family’s assets were confiscated, but for unknown reasons, this vineyard was spared from division. Today, the entirety of the La Romanée vineyard is owned by Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair whose wines are not the most expensive in the world, but pretty darn close. (Winespeed)
More woes for France? A whopping 30% reduction in wine is anticipated from this year’s French harvest. The French Ministry of Agriculture expects a loss of up to 35.6 million hectoliters (940 million gallons) of wine nationally. French levels were last this low in 1977. Due to late frosts in April, persistent rains in June and July, and consistent drought in the south, many French regions are also preparing for higher prices. GK: Believe me, after visiting Bordeaux, and taking more than my share of abuse about being from California, and nearby Napa Valley, I do not feel sorry for the French. But I hate to see any farmers lose $$!!
Ernest Hemingway was quite insightful: “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
Yes, global warming is changing the harvest season. Take a look at Napa Valley: The 2021 harvest began on July 30 in Napa Valley. The first winery to pick was St. Supéry harvesting 7 tons of Sauvignon Blanc. Honig began picking their Gordon Ranch vineyard on August 3rd. The earliest Napa harvest in the last several years was in 2015, when Mumm Napa began harvesting for sparkling wine on July 22nd. (Winespeed)
The longevity of a red wine is based on many factors, but the most important component is the wine’s tannin. Tannin is a natural preservative. All other things being held equal, wines with significant amounts of tannin live longer than wines without. Plants build tannins for protection, preservation, and defense. (Since Neolithic times, plant tannins have been used to prevent the spoilage of animal skins— when “tanning” hides into leather, for example). Consider a collector’s cellar. It’s usually filled with wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux— wines that have a lot of tannin and therefore have a good chance of living well into the future. (Winespeed)
Can wine get sunburned? Wine can’t. But wine grapes can. With climate change beginning to be observed in many warmer wine regions, winemakers are increasingly concerned about sunburned grapes. Like human skin, the grape skins can wrinkle, thicken, and get more leathery in response to too much direct sun. When such grapes are made into wine, the wine can often have a rustic, rough feel—exactly the opposite of what most winemakers hope for. To protect grapes from too much sun, wineries often grow grapes so that the clusters are partially shaded by the vines’ leaves. It’s a tricky call, however, because too much shading could mean the grapes wouldn’t ripen properly and the resulting wine could taste like canned green beans. (Winespeed)
Since we are getting close to harvest season, due to global warming, the excitement of the 2021 vintage begins. It seems there are numerous choices, both for wines, regions, and countries. I strongly encourage you to drink what you enjoy, at reasonable prices, and forget what the “experts” say.