Second Wines Rock – Napa Cabernet Edition

April 25, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

If you read Wine Spectator’s March issue, you’re aware of the outstanding values the second wines of Bordeaux’s top Chateau.  Napa has a long history of copying (and often improving upon) French winemaking, so it comes as no surprise that some of the Napa Valley’s top labels also produce some fantastic second wines.

Here are some of my favorite second wines, in no particular order, with first/flagship wine in parenthesis.  When possible, I linked wines that are available for purchase .

Darioush Caravan – $37.95 (Darioush Signature – $88)

Since the 2007 vintage, this has not only been a great second wine, but one of my favorite Napa Cabernets, period!  It’s a huge, complex wine that completely destroys most Napa Cabs both on quality and value.  The price has gone up from $30 since the 2007 vintage, so I would recommend picking it up before it hits the $40 mark.

Joseph Phelps – $39.95 (Phelps Insignia – $129.95)

Though I haven’t tasted the currently available 2008 vintage, every “regular” Phelps Cabernet I’ve had has been absolutely outstanding.  They’re ageworthy, elegant and powerful, all at the same time.  And at 3 for 1 compared to Insignia, they’re a great deal too.

Paul Hobbs Crossbarn – $36.95 (Paul Hobbs Napa – $69.95)

In a way this is actually a third wine.  The best lots go into Hobbs’ single vineyard bottlings ($130 – 400) with the rest going into the Napa Cabernet and Crossbarn, also from Napa.  Crossbarn is a great wine, made in the massive, fruit (and oak) forward style Paul Hobbs is known for.

For what it’s worth I have all of the wines listed above in my cellar, including the main or first wines.  While I can confidently endorse all of them, the second wines are a great way to explore the style of the winery without taking out a second mortgage on your house.  That way, when you are ready to take out the second mortgage, you will know it’s going to be worth it!

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