The holiday season is filled with dinners and togetherness. At 1.5 liters, a magnum is the equivalent of two standard wine bottles and makes an excellent choice for group imbibing as up to ten revelers can get a healthy glass of wine from one magnum. When you pop open a magnum, you send a message: It’s time to party.
Magnum bottles also make fantastic gifts for a wine collector. Although the bottle itself doubles in size, a magnum’s cork has generally the same area as a normal bottle’s cork. This means less oxygen exposure which helps lengthen the maturing process and keeps wines in magnum fresher for a longer period of time.
Champagne is especially nice when bottled in magnum, both because of the extended freshness and because Champagne producers will often release magnums later than standard-sized bottles, allowing you to drink a wine that is more mature and complex without having to cellar it yourself.
We have all sorts of magnums to choose from, ranging in price from $59 Cru Beaujolais to splurge-worthy rare cult wines and a 100 point “Super Second Growth” Bordeaux. Here are some of our favorites:
$250 Château d’Issan (Margaux 2012)
Château d’Issan is a Third Growth Margaux property and one of the oldest Château in the region. It is known for its richly aromatic and silky-textured wines that are among the best of the appellation. Since 1945 the estate has been owned by the Cruse family, who had been established in the Médoc for more than 150 years prior to purchasing the property. Today Emmanuel Cruse runs the estate. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully concentrated, the 2012 Château d’Issan has a heady nose of flowers, dark berry fruit, and hints of spice and graphite. One of the superstars of the vintage. It will drink exceptionally well now and through the 20s.
$250 Champagne Jacquesson “Cuvée No. 742” (Extra Brut)
Although technically a Champagne house, brothers Laurent and Jean-Hervé Chiquet operate Champagne Jacquesson much like a grower operation. Besides their own organic and sustainably farmed 69 acres of vineyard (severely pruned for low yields), they work closely with their neighbors to supplement from an additional 19 acres, all in Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. Their 700-series was created to showcase the character of a particular vintage with the addition of a small amount of reserve wines designed to reinforce the complexity of the base wine. “Cuvée No. 742” is based on the 2014 vintage and blend of Pinot Noir and Meunier (from Aÿ, Dizy and Hautvillers) and Chardonnay (from Avize and Oiry). It is a rich and beautifully resonant Champagne.
$99 Guido Porro “Vigna Lazzairasco” (Barolo 2013)
Guido Porro is a fourth generation winemaker holding close to 20 acres on the western slopes of the Barolo commune Serralunga d’Alba. He is a man that sees no need for fanfares to establish his name as one of Langhe’s most respected vignerons. The cuvée “Lazzairasco” is named after the specific sub-zone of Lazzarito that contain the estates oldest vines (50 years) and is located on the lower slopes that receive more heat and therefore tend to produce some of the most powerful wines of the cru. With a vibrant fruit concentration, licorice vibe, and a lengthy mineral and cherry pit finish, it makes you wonder how Guido Porro is able to fit so much wine in a bottle.