I have a bit of a thing for large formats. Magnums, jeroboams and the like tickle my ticklish bits with more than a suggestion of lubricity. My passion for large formats is clearly born of a desire for self improvement – as William Blake tells us:
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”
To the left is a picture of the magnums currently gracing the wine cupboard before being moved to longer-term storage. You will note that even a species of creature known for its select tastes and exacting standards, represented in this instance by Kisu the Elitistreview cat, will happily associate with such a jocund display. In total I own 39 magnums and 3 jeroboams which makes for an excellent ratio with respect to half bottles of which I own precisely 2.
The primary pleasure of a large format is, of course, that they are a delight to share. Whether it is a magnum imbibed with a friend over lunch or an even more voluminous format popped at a larger gathering, such as the party Alec Seysses (right) is providing with refreshment, they imbue the occasion with a sense of convivial celebration. When a big bottle is broached everyone knows that special efforts have been taken to vitalize the event and elevate their moods; it is hard not to feel suffused with mirth when supping from something extraordinarily large.
For the confirmed oenophile there is a further benefit to buying them big. We are told that large formats age more slowly and predictably. There is some debate about the mechanism behind this, some citing a lower oxygen to liquid ratio, but my experience suggests that, with Champagne at the very least, magnums usually seem fresher than smaller bottles. I rather hope this phenomenon does exist because I have an impressive jeroboam put aside for my 50th which, even given the harrowing proximity of yet another birthday, is an appreciable distance in the future.
I hope I have convinced you, should it have even been necessary, of the joy present in large formats. So I present, in ascending order of price, five large formats the lover of fine things would find hard to refuse.
- Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2009, Chateau Grange Cochard (£29.95 per magnum) which I drank a few days ago and can be secured from Berry Bros.
- Bandol 2000, Domaine du Gros Nore (£45 per magnum) which I reviewed here and can be purchased from The Tasting Room.
- Beaune Premier Cru Sizies 2007, Domaine de Montille (£59.78 per magnum) is a positive joy to drink now but will be best if you can keep it until 2015, from Lay and Wheeler.
- Geyserville 2008, Ridge (£105 per jeroboam). Ridge are a favourite producer from the US and Geyserville both drinks well young and ages impressively. From Berry Bros.
- Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel 2009, Franz Hirtzberger (£206.60 per jeroboam). One of the stars of the Clark Foyster portfolio tasting this buxom beauty is structured to match the hilarity of a big bottle. From Clark Foyster. Isabelle, Lance, don’t let them all go before I score one, please.