Vos also notes large bottles are an excellent investment, whether for personal cellaring or for resale. “Because of their slower development, a large bottle from a known producer is more valuable than a standard bottle,” he explains, citing recent Christie’s auctions where magnums of 1986 Château Lafite Rothschild fetched more than $2,000 each. COMPLEX PROCESS In Champagne, the aging regimen for large-format bottles is even more pronounced. Here, producers are legally required to age the wine in its original bottles, ensuring extra-large bottles receive extra attention from winemakers. As a result, champagne magnums offer a dazzling level of complexity and value. “When you are a champagne geek, magnums are the best format for appreciating the true aromatic profile of the wine,” explains Willem Pinçon of Charles Heidsieck. “Magnums provide the perfect balance of age, oxidation, and reduction.” Pinçon points out that this process is required for magnums and double magnums (jeroboams) only, and that larger bottlings are simply the equivalent of standard bottles poured into one large, eye-catching bottle.
This fall, Charles Heidsieck is releasing its last cache of jeroboams of the Charles Heidsieck Collection Crayères Brut Millésime 1989 vintage bubbly (as seen on the opening spread), a stellar wine that is glowing with flavor, even at 30 years old. These centerpieces have soared in popularity in recent years, and are now commonplace among the best wine regions in the world. In Napa Valley, winemaker Dan Petroski of Larkmead puts their rise in popularity simply: “Large formats are fun! If wine is to be shared, which it should be, sharing a larger-format bottle with family and friends is attention-grabbing and generous.” Despite their giant size, these bottles don’t demand a huge party to be opened and enjoyed. “Instead of opening a few bottles for a dinner of four or more, open a magnum or a double magnum,” says Vos. EVERY OCCASION COVERED At 1.5 liters, a magnum contains 10 servings of wine, or about two glasses per person. Jeroboams, which hold three liters, are also ideal for smaller gatherings, while bottles go up in size to 20-liter behemoths known as nebuchadnezzars, ideal for larger festivities. When serving, Petroski suggests decanting, as well as preparing the wine long before it is served. “Don’t be afraid to stand the wine up for a couple of days in your cellar before you plan to open it,” he says. For large bottles with decorative wax seals, insert the corkscrew directly in the center of the bottle, through the wax. Wipe the neck of the bottle before pouring. Then, use both hands to hold the bottle. Pinçon’s advice is straightforward when it comes to elegantly serving enormous bottles: “You probably need a good friend.” Luckily, if magnums are on the menu, thirsty friends won’t be hard to find. Laura Burgess is a certified sommelier who writes about wine for vinepair.com and at laurauncorked.com
On the market TASTEFUL INVESTMENTS
Wine Country château Salem, Oregon, U.S.A. $3,950,000 Luxe Christie’s International Real Estate Kendra Ratcliff +1 503 330 6677 Ideally situated within easy reach of the region’s top vineyards and the Illahe Hills Country Club, this grand 9.4-acre (3.8 ha) estate combines old-world elegance with the amenities of a luxury spa. The nine-bedroom château-style residence spans 21,000 sq ft (1,950 sq m) with striking interiors and magnificent entertaining spaces, both inside and out, as well as a 1,000 sq ft (93 sq m) atrium with indoor pool. Whitehall Estate St. Helena, California, U.S.A. Price upon request Christie’s International Real Estate Zackary Wright +1 310 385 2690 This ultramodern Napa Valley estate set on 20 acres (8 ha) offers sleek lines, exquisite craftsmanship, utter privacy, and seamless indoor–outdoor living. The four-bedroommain home is wrapped in terraces and has sublime views of the estate’s 14 acres (5.6 ha) of vineyards, while there is also a wellness pavilion, pool, and spa, and a three-bedroom guesthouse with private access and a lap pool.
Big red: The structure of Larkmead’s opulent, full-bodied Cabernets makes them perfect for larger-format bottles.
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