Focus on Magnums

Magnums are not just for parties and champagne. Certainly, they impress as a table centrepiece, make a very special gift, and never fail to set a celebratory tone, but there are reasons for choosing a 150cl magnum over its 75cl counterpart all year round.

With a lower percentage of air to liquid and less exposure to the effects of oxygen, wines tend to age more slowly and harmoniously in magnum. Therefore, it is arguably the ideal format for a producer’s best reds and whites, retaining their youthful freshness for longer, while allowing more nuanced flavours to evolve over time.

Magnums are also more durable for travel and storage, having darker, thicker glass to protect their contents from its three enemies of heat, light and vibrations. So, for those wines worthy of tucking away, bigger is most definitely better!

Pieropan, `Calvarino` Soave Classico 2018
‘Calvarino’ is the name of a steep and beautiful vineyard located in Soave Classico. The beauty of this vineyard and the grapes it produces prompted Nino Pieropan to bottle it as a single vineyard wine in 1971 - a first for an Italian white from an indigenous grape variety. Nino wanted to make a good wine that represented a specific territory, and faithful to its origin, ‘Calvarino’ is still vinified as it was in 1971. The result is a wine ready to drink now but with the potential to age for decades, developing great complexity with age.

Greywacke, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Kevin Judd’s delicately scented and deliciously ripe-fruited interpretation of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the region’s most celebrated. Fruit for the 2019 vintage comes from various prime vineyard sites in the Southern Valleys, the central Wairau Plains (specifically in Woodbourne, Renwick and Rapaura) and a spectacular river terrace site in the upper Awatere Valley, the latter containing a high proportion of New Zealand’s greywacke river stones. Each vineyard batch is vinified separately and left on its lees before blending and bottling. The wine bears all the hallmarks of the evolving Greywacke style – subtlety, structure, texture and perfume.

Allegrini, `La Grola` 2016
Giovanni Allegrini bought the ‘La Grola’ vineyard in 1979. Giovanni replanted this vineyard with high density Guyot system – a first in Valpolicella – and released Valpolicella’s first single vineyard Corvina wine. It is an intense and elegant homage to the Corvina grape, with rich notes of wild berries, juniper, tobacco and coffee. The high plant density and resulting low yields give this wine its unique concentration. Elegance and concentration make it a wine to drink now, but it has great potential for ageing and further development in bottle.

Altos Las Hormigas, Mendoza Malbec Clásico 2016
Altos Las Hormigas are pioneers of a more elegant style of Malbec – fresh, perfumed and refined. Their own vineyard in Luján de Cuyo, planted on silty soils, is the primary source of fruit for this wine, and imparts a deep violet colour, fine tannins, and juicy red fruit character. A biodynamic approach in the vineyard, as well as minimal intervention in the winery – including natural yeasts and a move from oak to concrete – ensures the wine stays true to its place of origin.

Montes Alpha, Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon paved the way for premium Chilean wines when it was launched in 1987, illustrating that Chile could produce wines that stood shoulder to shoulder with their competitors around the world. The fruit is sourced primarily from Montes’ Apalta Estate, which gives elegant, complex aromas and intense colour, supplemented by fruit from their Marchigüe property. Both sites are ‘Sustainable Dry Farmed’ and are arguably two of the finest in Colchagua Valley. Full yet refined, generous and well-structured, the wine is a pleasure to drink now, with years of cellaring potential ahead of it.

Familia Castaño, `Hécula` Monastrell 2016
Based in the Yecla DO in south-eastern Spain, the Castaño family are Monastrell specialists, with 80% of their vineyards planted to this native Spanish variety. At 750 metres above sea level, warm days are counteracted by cool nights, enabling the grapes grown here to retain a crisp acidity which perfectly balances their brooding black fruit flavours. ‘Hécula’ is 100% Monastrell, aged for six months in French and American oak barrels, 50% of which were new. Displaying succulent and ripe black fruit aromas, notes of sweet spice and supple tannins, this wine represents exceptional value for money.

Main image: Allegrini