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Want Great Deals In Wine? Look For The Second Label

Some of the best values in wine often come from a well-known producer’s second label. To clarify, these are not the exact same wine bottled with a different label and sold for less. They are crafted by the same skilled winemaker, often grown on the same estate soils and aged and stored in the same winery. Typically, they are made from fruit that didn’t officially make the cut for the flagship bottling or from a boondoggle year of excellent fruit. Many are aged differently, often spending less time in oak. What does remain the same is the winemaker quality assurance: second labels enjoy all the skill and expertise the premium wines receive. In a nutshell, you get a taste of excellence at a great price. Here’s a listing of some labels to look for:

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2008 ($22) A blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese.  Crafted with the ripasso technique, which involves fermenting the grapes a second time with a small portion of dried grapes, to give body and concentration to the wine. Lush cherryishness (not a word, I know, but that was the feeling), with a plush velvety palate and deep ripe red fruit notes followed with a clean, fresh finish. Compulsively drinkable and a screaming value at just $22. Second label for Allegrini Amarone Classico 2007, $85

Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2010 ($12). A blend of three grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. Lighter bodied and leaner in style, with cinnamon, black cherry and spices. A great wine for spaghetti and meatballs and a long evening catching up with friends.Second label for Falesco Montiano 2009, $45

Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Rosso 2009 ($15) Crafted by Sicily’s Tasca d’Almerita family, best known for their devotion to Sicily’s premier red grape, Nero d’Avola. This fabulous value starts things off hints of tobacco and earth, then things start to warm up with notes of bright red raspberry and cherry fruit.  Second label for Tasca d’Almerita Rosso del Conte 2006, $70

Catena Malbec 2010 ($24) A rich, approachable Malbec with plum, chocolate and coffee. Bold, but not overpowering and always a crowd pleaser. Second Label to Catena Malbec Adrianna 2008, $135

Delamotte, Blanc de Blanc NV, $70. Officially termed the ‘sister’ label of Salon Champagne, this gorgeous bubbly is crafted every year. Salon is only crafted in vintage years (most current being 2004, according to the website). When it’s not a vintage year those grand cru gorgeous Salon grapes head for the Delamotte Blanc de Blanc. You’ll get fresh, vibrant bubbles with crisp raciness and a lovely Champagne with a fabulous pedigree. Second Label to Salon Vintage Champagne, (price varies but Salon Blanc de Blanc 1999, $375.00)

Wallace Brook Cellars, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2009, ($20)  Adelsheim crafts Wallace Brook from declassisifed barrels and other fruit in years where there is enough great wine to make the Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. This tasty second label for Adelsheim (also the2012 Wine and Spirits Winery of the Year) vineyards  is a great go-to Pinot with its approachable, bouncy fruit, ripe strawberry nose, spice and earth. Well balanced and just enjoyable. Second label to Adelsheim Vineyards Pinot Noir, $35