Thursday, October 2, 2008

Second Label Rock stars.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 7:18 PM

click to enlarge poverty=wine

The Democrats clearly have the best rock stars.  Not just Obama and Kennedy, but real life rock stars.  How cool is it to be Obama and have Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen on your side?  Joel and Springsteen are teaming up for a one-night-only event at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on October 16th (the day after the final presidential yawn-tastic debate).  Tickets are $500 to $10,000 with proceeds going to the Barack Obama presidential campaign.-

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For those of you booking your JetBlue flight to New York to camp out for these tickets, take comfort in the fact that even if you can no longer afford the $10,000 ticket and you can only stump up $500 and sleep on a friend's sofa - at least you will see the concert of a lifetime (err...unless you caught Madonna's Re-Invention show in 2004).   Console yourself with the fact that, sure, you will not get front row seats, but you will get to see a great show.  And for a good cause.

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Now, pour a glass of wine and apply that same logic.-Imagine you are a wine maker for a top Bordeaux chateau – let’s say at Chateau Petrus where your wine regularly fetches $1,000 a bottle upon release  and easily five times that in good years or after the wines have been cellared for a bit.  This is a great gig if you can get it, but you are also limited.  You  likely have production limits.  You cannot vary the profile.   And so your creativity falls victim to your own success.  Unless, that is, you can keep your current job while producing a different wine under a different label.  You can utilize those same years of experience and expertise, the same terroir and the same shiny new equipment that those $1,000 bottles of wine pay for, but you can have a bit of fun.

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That happens every year when wineries all over the world produce "second-label" wines.  Opinions vary on where “second-label” wines come from.  Some conspiracy theorists suppose producers sell off or bottle the exact same juice they sell under their most exclusive labels under different names.  That is unlikely, but what is likely is that there are excesses of juice from certain grape varietals that get creatively blended to produce a different wine and make a bit of money for the winery.  Some wine makers are quiet about this while some are quite open with the fact they have labels of varying prices.-

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Buying second-label wines is an interesting way to try the wines by the cream of the crop of winemakers without paying exorbitant prices.   The most drastic example may be the second label of Chateau Petrus, mentioned above: the wine maker Christian Mouiex also makes a second-label Merlot that goes for $13 a bottle.  In the cases of wines that benefit from cellaring before drinking, you may also find that the second labels are ready for drinking immediately.-

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Big wines and their second labels:

2003 Chateau Petrus Pomerol $2500

2003 Christian Mouiex Merlot $13

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1990 Chateau Margaux Grand Cru Classés $1500

1990 Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux $300

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2004 Chateau Haut Brion Grand Cru Classés $652

2004 Chateau Bahans-Haut-Brion $45

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2000 Chateau Latour Grand Cru Classés $1448

2000 Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac $249

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2004 Pahlemeyer Napa Valley $106

2004 Jayson by Pahlmeyer Napa Valley $49

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1996 Harlan Estate Red Wine  $775

1996 The Maiden, by Harlan Estate (gorgeous label, great gift wine) $150

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2004 Herb Lamb Cabernet  $229

2004 E II  Cabernet $85 (not to be confused with E2, a totally different wine)

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2000 Jones Family Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $120

2000 The Sisters Red Wined by Jones Family Vineyard  $55

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click to enlarge 2907944982_54e3fd28fd_o.jpg
This weekend we had the second label wine from the highly acclaimed Duckhorn winery.   Cleverly called Decoy, this wine runs about $29 at Doringnacs and is a ready-to-drink Bordeaux blend by the same winemaker as Duckhorn, which can easily reach $100.

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Decoy is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and has an array of black pepper, tobacco and dark chocolate aromas and flavors balanced with fresh black cherry and berry fruits.   This wine goes really well with fatty red meat or other rich, game meats.  Try it with duck or beef wellington or even roasted chicken that is cooked with a rich dark jus and stewed vegetables.   As Autumn descends and we start reaching for heartier root vegetables to pair with meats this is a great wine to have on hand.

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So don't worry about having to settle for the cheap seats - they can be more fun anyway.   At least you can dance there. .

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Cheers!

(the top picture is called poverty=wine and was created by Chris Ledward www.chrisledward.co.uk)

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