Wine Lists

Spotlight on magnums

By Jane Faulkner

27 Sep, 2018

When it comes to wine, size counts. Jane Faulkner shares the benefits of this larger format, plus a range of styles to seek out, covering splurge examples and ones you can find for a steal.

There’s something decadent and generous about magnums. No. Not the choc-coated ice cream, but rather the bottle holding 1.5 litres of wine. All large-format bottles look impressive, including the mighty Melchior filled with the equivalent of 24 standard bottles of wine, but have you ever tried lifting one? Magnums, comparatively, are a cinch.

Because of the size-to-wine ratio, wine ages more slowly in a magnum, making them highly collectable among the cognoscenti. But you don’t have to be one to enjoy them.

Alex Wilcox, co-owner of the Prince Wine Store in Melbourne and Sydney, says: “It is very easy to upsell and buy a large-format bottle as a gift or to take to dinner. What better way to get the party started than plonking a magnum in the centre of the dining table?”

“There’s a healthy market for magnums, particularly with collectors who are by far the biggest group of buyers [at Prince Wine Store].” And the number one magnum purchase? Champagne.

It stands to reason a bottle with double the volume and the same amount of oxygen in its neck will stay fresher yet gain complexity. Shop around for bubbly bargains. Brought in through Prince Wine Store’s import arm is Pierre Peters with its 1.5 litre Cuvee de Reserve Brut ($225) or one of the most recognisable, the NV Bollinger Special Cuvée (about $240). Locally, House of Arras has several of its bubbles in the larger format, including its Late Disgorged 2003 ($399.99), now available, and Grand Vintage 2007 ($250) releasing in time for the festive season.

If you’re having a party or barbeque, magnums look great in an ice bucket. Start with the Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 2017 ($145), or taking inspiration from that style is Heathcote’s Tellurian Rosé 2017 ($55). The Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($61) is bang-on. If you’re after something special, you can certainly find Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace in the larger format, prices vary, or try Best’s Bin No O Shiraz 2014 ($200).