Menach N wrote:...question; what other advantges are in the Magnum format vs a regular format ? ...not particularly this wine, i mean in general wine-
We discussed the advantages of the magnum format a while ago. To review briefly - it is true that there is not quantifiable data but many informal tests and tastings demonstrate that wines develop more slowly and age better in magnum format bottles than in regular formats. As I have written on many occasions, my estimate is that magnum format bottles tend to add 25% - 50% to the drinking window of many fine wines. That does not, by the way mean that double magnums or imperials will extend the drinking window by three to four.
Two classic examples that I have used and still hold true: the 1928 Yquem in regular format bottles is quite tired, in magnum formats, quite fresh; the 1945 Mouton in regular format bottles has gone on to wine paradise but the same wine in magnum bottles is drinking beautifully now and seems to have a dozen or more years of good life in front of it. And if another is desired, not that long ago Serene Suthcliffe tasted the 1945 Margaux from a magnum bottle. After a first and second sip she looked upwards, as if towards heaven, and quietly stated “Mmmm… almost ready to drink”
So enthusiastic about magnums am I that when it comes to wines with the potential for long cellaring, I generally suggest to those who have either the space of the cash on hand that for every 12 regular bottles that one lay in 4 – 6 magnums for the longer run. I realize of course that such advice is appropriate primarily for those with very large cellars and even larger budgets.
All of this with a few reservations, however, for as many tastings over the years have shown me, with most wines of up to ten years of age, you will taste no difference between a wine stored in a 750 cl bottle or a magnum. In general, that effect only takes place with truly long term storage. Now it is true that it can impress people to pour from magnum bottles but quite often that will wind up with quite a bit of left-over wine and that is simply a waste. As to those companies that bottle cheap and/or poor wines in magnums – that’s fine for Irish wakes, Jewish bar mitzvas and, I suppose Protestant weddings and is nothing more than a sales gimmick. Need it be stated – I have seen Gato Negro in magnum bottles. I was not amused.
As to wineries promoting sales in magnum of their fine wines in magnum bottles, let us keep in mind that very few people can or will follow my rule of 4 – 6 magnums for every case of regular bottles. Being realistic, not many of us buy wines by the case, not many store wines for 20 – 75 years and not many can afford the really great wines in large formats. I consider it important for a certain number of better wines to be available to us in large formats. I even consider it important to buy some wines that way.
I remain firm in my belief that wines capable of aging will age far better in magnum formats. At a tasting held in London not that long ago, several of my colleagues and I tasted twenty two wines, all over forty years of age, mostly from Bordeaux but several from other regions as well, and those in both regular format and magnum format bottles. The wines were paired, that is to say served in couples of wines from the same Chateau or estate but we did this in a blind fashion so we could not know which had come from magnum and which from regular bottles.
Of six wines clearly beyond their peak in regular format bottles, five were still youthful, drinking beautifully and had further cellaring time ahead of them in magnum format. Of fourteen wines judged to be at or slightly beyond their peak in regular format bottles, twelve were deemed worthy of further aging in larger format bottles. Only two wines showed equally but agreement was unanimous that the regular format wines would drink well now or an additional five years while the drinking window for the wines in magnums was up to 15 additional years.
I agree that our tasting would not meet the most rigid of scientific demands but these are colleagues whose palates and judgement I value highly. More than that, it confirmed once again my belief of many years standing that wines develop more slowly in the larger format bottles. One of those cases where the shared knowledge happens to reflect realities.
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