Last year at this time, I wrote a post called “Give the gift of big red,” which suggested giving wines big in flavor profile and in heavy bottles. However, since my research into the carbon footprint of wine, I’m reformed. Now I know that magnums (1.5 liters) produce less carbon dioxide emissions per ounce of wine than regular bottles because of the more favorable wine-to-glass ratio.
So this year, here’s a list of impressive magnums that will impress your friends and relatives–and even with the bigger bottle, they’ve got a smaller carbon footprint. Providing they drink it all, of course.
While there are many magnums that are ridiculously priced since they are a favorite of collectors, these are in the realm of reasonable, under $100. All prices are for magnums.
Pierre Peters champagne, $90 (find this wine). This champagne is a “grower champagne,” made by the people who grew the grapes (unlike the big houses who buy grapes from the 10,000 growers in the region). It’s from Mesnil, the home to big names such as Krug and Salon, so the vineyard site is excellent. So is the resulting Champange, a blanc de blancs, which I have served many times this year to guests and once from magnum to a class. Great bling at a fraction of bling price! Magnums are particularly good for aging so feel free to keep it for a few years.
Pepiere, “Granite de Clisson,” Muscadet 2005, $40 (find this wine). This producer is a leading quality in the area where the Loire river meets the sea. The wine is his richest and smoothest thanks to two years of aging but it still has good, zippy acidity to compliment seafood such as oysters. It’s also a doubly green wine because the grapes are hand harvested from an organic vineyard.
Schloss Lieser, Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, 2004, $68 (find this wine). I stumbled on this bottle in a wine shop and couldn’t resist it. The Riesling magnum is long and fluted and towers above other magnums. I served it at a party last weekend and the crowd loved it and had fun pouring from such a long neck. The wine has a whiff of flintiness on the nose but had a beautiful balance of light sweetness and acidity on the palate.
Dard & Ribo, Saint-Joseph, 2005, $68 (find this wine). I almost didn’t get a chance to taste this wine because I served it at a party and the revelers almost finished it off before I got to it. But fortunately I did since the wine inside the magnum is terrific with a great balance of red berry fruit, tannin and acidity. This is also a “double green” wine since it is totally natural and this producer is a staple in the trendy natural wine bars of Paris. It makes an especially good gift for someone named Joseph as I found out at the party where a friend named Joe tried to run away with the bottle.
Niepoort, 1997 vintage port, $65 (find this wine). Vintage port is generally very expensive with recent vintages pushing $100 a bottle. Magnums, however, get a significant discount presumably because nobody can drink that much sweet wine in one sitting. Tip: have a party and serve it at the end with some Stilton and it will be an amazing farewell. Another tip: drink as much as you are able and decant it into a regular sized bottle and recork where it will stay good for a good while longer. Whatever you do with it, the stout bottle is an impressive gift.
Choose your Christmas magnum wisely.