Story by the Staff
Bottle photos courtesy of the producers
Vineyard photo by Manos Angelakis
Delightful Second Labels
The concept of second labels began in Bordeaux as a means of utilizing wine from younger vines or not as high quality berries as the ones used for a Chateau's first label (Grand Vin). This is still a very high quality wine. Second labels are made by most high end wineries, sharing a style and consistency with the main label, but sometime these wines are just not as refined. The know-how remains identical with the quality of a great name, but it is usually at an affordable rate. For many Châteaux or international producers, 20%, 30% and even 35% of production is typically diverted to second and third labels, especially when production is high in a particular vintage.
The Frescobaldi family owns a number of outstanding wineries around Central Italy, including Tenuta Luce della Vite. Most of their wines are made from indigenous Sangiovese grapes but at Tenuta Luce, near Montalcino, the actual product is Super Tuscan wines; in the case of Lucente, their second label, it is a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Sangiovese.
The Tenuta started more than 25 years ago as a joint venture of 2 famous wine families, the Italian Frescobaldi and the Californian Mondavi, but Lamberto Frescobaldi and his family, are now the sole owners of Luce.
Luce della Vite is the first wine of the vineyard and it usually garners between 94/100 to 97/100 points by prominent wine critics around the world; Lucente, the winery’s second label, garners between 90/100 and 94/100 points, depending on the vintage. I rate the 2017 Lucente that I recently tasted as 93/100 points.
When I opened my bottle, which is imported by Vintus Imports, to taste the wine I found it to be a full-bodied, quite impressive blend with black fruit and wild berries and notes of tobacco, smoke and light spices on the nose and ripe black plums, cherries, blackberries, herbs and dark chocolate flavors on the palate, with medium tannins. Very good now but, with judicious cellaring, I believe it will be even better in five to eight years.
Another second wine that I recently received and loved was Cyprès de Climens from Château Climens, Barsac's most popular winery. As far as I’m concerned, Cyprès is almost as good a wine as the first label, a little fresher with a little more acidity and more approachable in its youth than the Grand Vin of the first label; the first label usually needs much more cellaring to fully develop.
Château Climens is one of the few Bordeaux wine producers that make a non blended wine; both first and second labels are monovarietals from 100% Semillon grapes, from average 35-year old and older vines. Acidity is a key component in a sweet white wine and there is ample acidity in the Cyprès. The wine shows intense tropical notes, with floral, honey, vanilla and spice aromas.
I have not been to the winery, but speaking with Bèrénice Lurton the owner and estate manager during a vintner’s lunch a couple years ago, I discovered that the first and second labels are created in a very similar manner, basing the production on the quality of the harvest and on tasting, where both wines receive practically the same treatment when it comes to vinification and maturation. But the price difference between the two labels is quite considerable, and that makes Cyprès de Climens a magnet for a new, younger clientèle looking for an approachable sweet wine that pairs well with international cuisines.
I’ll be doing a Northwestern Indian cuisine tasting at Benares, an upscale Indian restaurant in Wyckoff near me. I’ll bring a Cyprès bottle to have with the dishes. Spicy food is what many Barsac wines pair very well with, and I will let you know the results in an article. To see the comments on the pairing of Indian dishes with the Cyprès click Benares.
To your health!
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