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A lot of wineries have a sibling operation and in many cases, the lesser-known one is where real deals can be found.

The general second wine concept was born abroad, in places like France where there are established hierarchies for wine. If a blend couldn’t make the cut for, say, Grand Vin status, it could enter the market as something else, at a lower tier.

In the United States, a second label has become a savvy way for wineries to increase awareness. Sometimes, a smaller, high-end producer will start an entry-level label that focuses on larger-production wines. They function like business cards and gateway drugs, introducing consumers to the brand and hoping they’ll someday take the plunge into some of the label’s higher-end material.

Check out these wonderful wines and use them as great HOLIDAY gifts.

Liberty School Cabernet by Caymus

California – An elegant, medium-bodied Cabernet with aromas of black cherry and plum followed by subtle flavors of strawberry and spice. Firm yet supple tannins finish off this approachable fruit-driven Cabernet, making it ideal for a variety of food pairings. 

Pairing – Great with lamb, beef tenderloin and hard cheese.

Decoy Merlot by Duckhorn

California –  A truly respected Merlot for less price than its sister Duckhorn.  It has aromas of plum, cedar, and notes of baking spices. Layers of fresh strawberries and raspberries saturate the palate. The finish is soft and smooth with well-integrated tannins providing very nice structure.

Pairing –  Great with lighter cheeses, pork loin and smoked chicken

Resonance Blend - Maison Louis Jaoot

Oregon –  This Willamette Valley beauty  is an elegantly structured wine, with expressive raspberry and orange zest aromas and polished flavors.

Pairing – Lamb, spicy chicken or seafood and medium strong cheese

Jayson Red by Pahlmeyer

California – Dark and brooding notes of blackberry and cherry are interwoven with flavors of cracked black pepper, cedar, and spice. The generous finish has plenty of smooth tannins which provide a generous, mouth-coating texture.

Pairing - Beef stew, lamb and strong cheese

Delamotte Champagne by Salon

California – Foremost a mineral wine, This champagne has textbook chalkiness; with time in the glass showing its complexity from the lees and white flesh fruit.

Pairing - Shellfish, fried chicken and smoked salmon

Overture by Opus One

California – Aged in French oak, this full bodied Bordeaux blend possesses generous aromas and flavors of dark fruit, spice, and cigar box with a soft, supple mid-palate. The knockout finish is vast and expansive.

Pairing - Scalloped potatoes, beef roast and strong cheese


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