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Second thoughts: Bordeaux second wines

While no one would criticise the Bordelais’ continuing quest for quality, is the increasing trend towards second – and now third – wines good for consumers? Jane Anson reports

Left or Right? The trend spreads

Second wines have always been, by and large, a Left Bank phenomenon, primarily because Left Bank properties are bigger in size and so make more wine in the first place. Politics comes into play as well – there is less incentive to expand on the Right Bank, as classified St-Emilion estates are not allowed to buy more land and have it included in their classified wines.

But things are changing. Philippe Dambrine runs not only Cantemerle in Haut-Médoc, but also Grand Corbin in St-Emilion. The owners recently merged Grand Corbin with another of their St-Emilion properties, Haut- Corbin, keeping the Grand Corbin name. They created a new label called Les Charmes de Grand Corbin (not a true second wine as it also includes grapes from another of their vineyards but using the principle) in order to, as Dambrine says, ‘apply a Left Bank model but on a St-Emilion scale’.

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