Beyond the lofty First Growths — those six stellar properties lucky enough to be selected as top producers during the official Bordeaux Wine Classification of 1855 and Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 — there are the Super Seconds.

These Second Growth Bordeaux estates are very comparable in quality to the First Growths. In fact, many experts argue, quite persuasively, that the original classification should be re-evaluated….but that’s an issue for another blog. Just like the First Growths, the Super Seconds maintain the best winemakers, state-of-the-art equipment and a reputation for consistently producing exceptional wines.

But, when you consider value in wine purchases, the Super Seconds are tops — many are 95-100 points, selling for $150-300, while the First Growths are priced at $400-$1,000 or even more. With quality, price and overall drinking pleasure in mind, it’s incredibly easy to find happiness with one of these wines. And that’s why we constantly look to acquire them for our clientele.

Here then, are our favorite Super Seconds with a little story for each of them. To order the wines, call 850-687-1370 or write [email protected]

Château Cos d’Estournel
Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, the original owner of Cos d’Estournel was often referred to at the Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe. D’Estournel traveled extensively throughout Asia and expressed his love for the Orient within the architectural design of his estate. The exotic, Asian-influenced Château is as astounding today as it was in 1811.

The exotic, Asian-influenced Château Cos d’Estournel is as astounding today as it was in 1811. Photo by Marla Norman.

Current owner, Michel Reybier has perpetuated the Château’s reputation for the avant-garde, with new cellar installations that are entirely operated by gravity. There are no pumps whatsoever to force the wine, allowing for an unparalleled gentleness in handling the fruit. The technology at Cos has set a new benchmark for cellars throughout the world. The wines are powerful, but equally sensuous and refined. The distinctively perfumed nose and concentrated aromas make the wines highly soughtafter.

2015 Château Cos d’Estournel. JS 97-98. $155.99. 24 bottles. Arriving Spring 2018.
2005 Château Cos d’Estournel. JS 99. $229.99. 5 bottles.
2003 Château Cos d’Estournel. JS 98. $184.99. 12 bottles.

 

En Primeurs at Château Ducru Beaucaillou. Photo by Marla Norman.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou
Named after the beautiful large stones that make up the soil of the property, Ducru-Beaucaillou is one of the oldest wineries in Bordeaux…late 1200’s! Over 150 years ago, its owners developed a lime milk and copper sulfate solution to eliminate mildew.

What makes Ducru one of the very best? In comparison with 1982 for instance, half of the production goes into the Grand Vin. With a much tougher fruit selection, this ripe and concentrated wine is a perfect example of what proximity to the Garonne River can produce. We’re offering the two all-time best Ducrus: 2009 and 2010!

2015 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. WE 95-97. $156.99. 24 bottles. Arriving spring 2018.
2010 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. JS 100. $214.99.12 bottles.
2009 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. RP 100. Wine of the Year. $268.99. 24 bottles.
1993 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. $99.99. 1 bottle available.

 

 

Didier Cuvelier, proprietor of Château Léoville-Poyferré.

Château Léoville-Poyferré
Way back in 1638, the Léoville estates were a single property. In fact, with over 200 hectares, Léoville was one of the largest vineyards in Bordeaux. Now, of course, that original property has been split up into three estates. The similar sounding names can be a bit confusing if you’re just becoming familiar with the Saint-Julien appellation: Léoville-Las Cases, Léoville-Barton and Léoville-Poyferré.

In 1979, Didier Cuvelier, whose family were highly respected negociants in Bordeaux since 1804, took over Léoville-Poyferré. Cuvelier modernized and upgraded the winemaking facilities, while also implementing extensive replanting. In 1994, renowned wine expert Michel Rolland began consulting for Cuvelier. The results have been stellar, with enormous ratings. The wines of Léoville-Poyferré have a recognizably lush style with scents of cassis, black fruit and truffle. They are also appealingly priced and consequently difficult to keep in stock. We have a case of 2015. Grab it fast!

2015 Château Léoville-Poyferré. WE 95-97. 12 bottles. Arriving Spring 2018.

 

 

Many critics consider Château La Mission Haut-Brion as a potential First Growth property.

Château la Mission Haut-Brion
La Mission sits just across the street from sister property, the iconic First Growth Haut-Brion. The two estates are “close” in any number of ways. Both have storied histories. La Mission dates back to the early 16th century, when the Lazarists priests cultivated the vineyards. More recently, both estates have had the same winemakers. Jean-Bernard Delmas and later his son, Jean-Philippe Delmas, have supervised both properties since 1983, when Joan Dillon, purchased La Mission. Dillon is the daughter of legendary U.S. Treasury Secretary and Ambassador, C. Douglas Dillon. Additionally, she is the first commoner to marry into the Luxembourg monarchy, so she’s also known as Duchess of Mouchy.

And finally, just like Haut-Brion, La Mission has consistently won exceedingly high ratings. Robert Parker has awarded the property 100-points on six occasions! In 2009, the Liv-ex Bordeaux Classification considered Château La Mission Haut-Brion as a potential First Growth property, based upon the “estate’s consistent performance over the last century.” Needless to say, we think the half-case we’re offering is the ultimate bargain.

2008 Château la Mission Haut-Brion. WE 97. $229.99. 6 bottles.

 

 

Château Montrose
Everyone agrees that one of the Superstars on the Left Bank is Montrose. No need to take a poll. All you have to see is that the wine disappears immediately when offered on the Bordeaux marketplace. Located on the hills of the Saint-Estèphe appellation, this modern wine facility includes a breathtaking wine cellar.

Extraordinary wine and beautifully-designed cellars at Château Montrose. Photo by Marla Norman.

It was once part of Château Calon-Ségur but has recently been purchased by the Bouygues family, owners of one of France’s largest Telecom companies. The property was completely renovated, with a new winemaking facility employing geothermal energy and solar power. Also critical to the winery’s success, was engaging the Delmas family to oversee the property. Montrose now produces some of the most sought-after wines in the world.

2010 Château Montrose. RP 100. $228.99. 24 bottles.
2009 Château Montrose. RP 100. $279.99. 1 bottle only.
2003 Château Montrose. RP 98. $194.99. 24 bottles.

 

Château Pichon Longueville Baron
Far and away, the most beautiful estate on the Left Bank, the Pauillac Château reminds you of the days of the Louis XIV, the Sun King himself. The spectacular palace overshadows all its neighbors, including famed First Growth Château Latour. Pichon Longueville Baron sits on a bed of rocks, sand and gravel — all ideal for drainage and providing optimal water to the vine roots. With careful management and great funding from its owners, AXA Insurance, this Château is producing one great vintage after another. Enjoy our superbly priced offer:

Right out of a fairy tale, spectacular Château Pichon Longueville Baron. Photo by Marla Norman.

2015 Château Pichon Longueville Baron. NM 95-97. $120.79. 3 bottles. Arriving Spring 2018.
2010 Château Pichon Longueville Baron. RP 97. $176.99. 15 bottles.
2009 Château Pichon Longueville Baron. RP 98. $158.99. 1 bottle only.
2005 Château Pichon Longueville Baron. WS 94. $165.99 7 bottles

Very close to the Super Seconds, we have another tier of superb properties, with extraordinary, well-priced wines:  

Jean-Michel Cazes, proprietor of Château Lynch-Bages. Photo courtesy of Jean Michel Cazes.

Château Lynch-Bages
Huge renovations are going on at Lynch-Bages, headed up by none other than Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, sons of acclaimed I.M. Pei — the architect who created the Louvre pyramid.  The estate is owned by another iconic figure, Jean-Michel Cazes, a true visionary and ambassador for Bordeaux wines worldwide. An innovator, Cazes began using “massal cloning” for his vines. Massal selection involves choosing a number of outstanding vines from the vineyard and then propagating new vines from those original select plants. This technique allows for variation and more individual personality within the final selection.

Jean-Michel Cazes stepped down in 2006, handing over management of the family interests to his son Jean-Charles Cazes. In addition to Château Lynch-Bages, properties include a hotel and restaurant with two Michelin stars, and wine properties in Portugal and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

2010 Château Lynch-Bages. JS 98. $144.99. 18 bottles.
2009 Château Lynch-Bages. RP 98. Top 100 Wine. $157.99. 24 bottles.
2006 Château Lynch-Bages. RP 94. $127.99. 12 bottles.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte
In 1990, Daniel and Florence Cathiard family bought historic Château Smith Haut Lafitte, a property that dates back some 800 years, but was in decline at that point. The Cathiards, were both professional skiiers, who met and fall in love in 1965 while on the French national ski team. Jean-Claude Killy was a teammate at the time. Also interesting is that Daniel’s grandfather was an Alpine wine merchant who invented the modern day ski lift!

Daniel Cathiard on the French National Ski Team. Photos courtesy of the Cathiard Family.

Florence Cathiard, former World University Ski Champion.

Hélène Garcin-Lévêque & Patrice Lévêque.

At Smith Haut Lafitte, the couple invested in extensive renovations, which began to pay off in top-rated wines, including a 100-point release in 2009 (64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot). Thanks to their vision and creation of Sources de Caudalie featuring a 5-star hotel, a world-renown spa and beauty products (made from grape seeds) sold in the very best retail stores, the Cathiard family thrives. Indeed, along with Daniel’s sister, Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard, and niece Hélène Garcin-Lévêque, the group oversees a veritable empire in Bordeaux that, in addition to Smith Haut Lafitte, includes six premium Châteaux: Clos L’Eglise, Branon, Haut-Bergey, Barde-Haut and Poesia.

2010 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge. RP 98. $136.99. 12 bottles.
2015 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. AG 95-98. $85.99. 12 bottles. Arriving Spring 2018.
2014 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. JS 96. $76.99. 12 bottles.

 

At Château Pape Clément, Michel Thibault and Marla Norman with Jean-Christophe Crouzet.

Château Pape Clément
Named after Pope Clement V, who was gifted the property, this estate is currently owned by Bernard Magrez, who is also the proprietor of 15 more wineries in Bordeaux, another 15 in Languedoc-Roussilon, 3 in Provence, one winery in Napa and another 21 estates around the world — for a grand total of 55 wineries!!!

At Château Pape Clément, Magrez has enlisted the help of Michel Rolland and made a huge effort to upgrade the quality of the wine from the early days. Excellent harvest selection and new oak barrels have changed the complexity of his wines and have rewarded him with some top ratings from the pros. Magrez now uses drone technology (If you visit the Château, you can see a room full of drones.) and they help his staff to determine photosynthesis in the vineyards, potential advance of disease, etc. A modern man!

2009 Château Pape Clément. RP 100-95. $174.99 24 bottles.
2009 Château Pape Clément. RP 100-95. $399.99. 6 magnums.

 

Château Léoville-Barton
This estate is unusual in the Left Bank, inasmuch as there is no Château per se! There is only vineyard land and the Château you see from the road is actually Château Langoa-Barton, the sister winery where Léoville-Barton wines are bottled. (Recall from our discussion of Château Léoville-Poyferré, that Léoville-Barton was once part of the vast Léoville estate.)

Another interesting aspect is that Léoville-Barton practices co-inoculation, where both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations happen at the same time. Make no mistake, Léoville-Barton is year after year one of the very best buys in the top Châteaux. Check out the 100-point ratings from Wine Enthusiast for $129

2010 Château Léoville-Barton. WE 100. $128.99. 21 bottles.

To order, call 850-687-1370 or write [email protected]

Cheers! Here’s to the best of Bordeaux — in any class.
Michel Thibault & Marla Norman