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Second and Third Wines: Marketing Ploy or Luxury Bargains?

February 22, 2017
paulliac_and_pavillion_rogue_illustration

Buying wine was very daunting when I first started. The knowledge required to make a good choice was so intimidating. Buying designer bags on the other hand, was much easier to understand. The history, the craftsman ship and the cult following of a bag are widely written about and easier to understand. Unlike wines, you need to know a good amount about the vintage, region and grape to make an educated purchase. However, if you don’t want to think and you can afford it, then by all means go for a Chateau Latour, or any of the fantastic first growth Bordeaux wines. Chances are, the most horrible bottle will be some people’s best experience in drinking wine. Buying the best of the best doesn’t seem to require too much knowledge and experience- it’s the best for good reason right?

For the average wine drinker- and I’m referring to someone such as myself who enjoys a great glass of wine, but without spending my month’s salary on it, tasting the best of the best wines might be few and far between. It’s the same with lovers of fashion. While they admire beautiful bags and read follow fashion closely, not many will ever put down the money for a $10,000 Birkin. For many of the top Chateaus and fashion houses such as Hermes, the rarity and value of the products produced are due to the exquisite care put into making an item. The same amount of care and time is put into creating an Hermes So Kelly as is put into a Kelly or a Birkin. In fact, most of the styles that Hermes now has take their cues from the iconic Kelly and Birkin. This goes the same for the lower tiered wines of Chateau Margaux and La Tour. The difference is in the design complexity of both the bag and the first label wine. Birkins take an average of 48 work hours to make because of how they are designed. The high demand on them increases their value. The same goes for a La Tour or Margaux- with La Tour’s quantities decreasing over the years while the quality and complexity of the blends have been getting better and better.

The first time I was offered to buy a Paulliac de Latour, I was skeptical. This was the third wine of a top Chateau… that is so far down the totem pole. The Latour website doesn’t sound too promising either, it says’ The Paulliac was launched in 1973 and is made from vats that do not meet the selection criteria for Les Forts de Latour’

I felt like I was like buying a canvas bag from Hermes: everyone knows it’s the cheapest one in the store, but more expensive than many designer bags made in leather, but somehow you’re still drawn to it because:

  1. a) Yeah you can afford it- on the high spectrum of your budget and
  2. b) I’ve always wanted to have something from this brand anyway, plus it’s a ‘good investment’
  3. c) Its an affordable way to get a peep into what the high quality hype is about.

So I bit, and bought it. At around Php 8,000 a bottle, it cost as much as some first wines of Fourth, Fifth growths and other great wines from other regions. Did I just waste my money and buy into the hype?

The first few sips were…delicious. Full bodied and big fruit flavors . Later on the ‘cachichas’ aspect started showing itself. It had some of the smelliest cachichas elements in a wine that I’ve ever had- old leather with sweaty feet. Salty, sweet, fruity and bitter… this wine had umami. Well balanced and well structured, each sip is a discovery of a new set of flavors that evolve so well. If this is what the third wine tastes like, then I can’t wait to try the first. I was so pleasantly surprised with this that I continue to buy it.

Sadly, I can’t say the same for my experience with Pavillion Rogue du Chateau Margaux. My husband and I were underwhelmed, at around P11,000 a bottle, this is a feeling I wasn’t too happy about. This is not to say that I’m not looking forward to trying the first wine. This goes to show that it’s a hit or miss with these second and third wines, and it’s a gamble we make when we pull the trigger on them. I personally have a hard time doing this, but glad I did to pique my curiosity.

Like an expensive entry level bag, you are left wanting more. Obsessed with the brand or wine’s history, you keep reading up –and saving up until you feel you deserve to sip the Grand Vin. Of course, there are many who prefer to go straight for the great stuff- the best vintage and bought at a premium. It’s the same as buying the coveted Birkin with years on the waiting list… you can easily get the color, size and leather you want from a re-seller. The value of waiting for a bag is in that you waited and it was the right one for you. I waited 3 years to get my first Birkin, and it was everything I dreamed it would be. I remember the day I got it, what I was wearing and how I felt. The same goes for me, and tasting the first wines of La Tour and Margaux… When the time is right, and when I deserve to taste it, I know it will be magical.

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