An abundance of good quality fruit in these top vintages means that châteaux 'second wines' are particularly worth a look. See the top wines from this panel tasting; many of the opulent 2009s are ready to drink, while 2010 still has some way to go.
This article was originally published in Decanter magazine's December 2016 issue and is now available online in full, exclusively for Premium subscribers.
Seventy-seven Médoc second wines from 2009 and 2010 tasted with 14 Highly Recommended
The tasters: Jane Anson, Steven Spurrier, Sebastian Payne MW
Scroll down to see the wines
Today there are around 700 second wines in Bordeaux, with numbers continuing to grow. Around half of all Médoc estates have them – that percentage rises steeply for the more famous estates, with only Château St-Pierre in St-Julien and Château d’Armailhac in Pauillac holding out among the 1855 estates. That number drops to about one third for Right Bank properties, although this is changing fast, as St-Emilion in particular begins to see the benefits of brand extension through a second label.
Médoc: know your vintages
2015 An excellent vintage across the board, boding well for second wines.
2014 A strong vintage, particularly in northern Médoc. Careful sorting was needed in places, but there are many strong examples of second wines.
2013 Difficult year. Some attractive early-drinking wines, but often better to prioritise first over second wines.
2012 An underrated vintage: some good,classically balanced first and second wines.
2011 Reds more uneven than whites, but some good drinking wines, especially among the established names.
2010 Excellent. High tannins, alcohol and fruit; long-lasting, with plenty of good quality second wines.
2009 Excellent quality, fruit-forward, ripe character, with plenty of good quality second wines, many ready to drink now.
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