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I'll Second That

By Amy Simmons · April 21st, 2004 · Uncorked!
Sometimes being a wine wonk means being a detective. There are lots of great wine finds out there, but they often require some digging and some sleuthing. There's no better example than "second label" wines, so named because the quality of the grapes involved do not reach the strict standards for labeling under the vineyard's primary label.

Second label wines are created from grapes that come from new or lesser-known vineyards. Top grapes are reserved for the higher-priced primary labels which, depending on the wine, can run into the triple digits in price. It's sort of like an outlet store compared to its premium retail sibling.

Since these wines are not always easy to spot, I suggest you talk to the folks at your local wine store who should be able to offer some ideas.

Of course, there's always the Internet which can provide some ideas for exploration.

Next time you're out and about, check out some of these second-label offerings:

Le Volte:This second label offering comes from critically acclaimed Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, a giant of the "Super Tuscans" and a recent Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. Super Tuscans, a recent wine phenomenon, areuntraditional blends. Le Volte is a well-balanced, food-friendly wine that is a blend of 40 percent sangiovese, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon and 30 percent merlot.

Termes:A second label wine from Bodega Numanthia Termes of Spain, the source of a critically acclaimed cuvée. This full-bodied red wine is made of 30-year-old vines of 100 percent Tinta De Toro, which is more widely known as tempranillo, the grape that is used in the making of Rioja. In the region in Toro, it is known as Tinta De Toro. With only 1,000 cases made, it's a unique treat.

Hawk Crest: These wines are second label offering from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, synonymous with high quality, higher-priced red wines, especially its cabernets. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars gained international fame during the 1970s when its cabernet sauvignon beat out some of top offerings from France. Hawk Crest produces cabernet, merlot and chardonnay.

If you really want to have fun (and have the budget to spare), buy the primary label wine and see if you can taste the difference between the labels.



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