By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer
Anytime I can fabricate the occasion I like to open a magnum of Champagne. If there are four or more people, it is the right size for the aperitif; I can't remember the last time I had to stopper one up and put it in the refrigerator for the next day. Whenever I do a customer tasting, anything that is available in magnum gets poured from magnum, and when I tell the customers that I am cheating by doing this, they usually just laugh...but I am serious.
Magnums have many advantages over single bottles of Champagne. The most obvious one is that you get half the amount of oxidative ageing in this format, since the opening at the top of the bottle is the same as a 750, but the volume of the wine is doubled. Because of the slope of the bottle, you also get more contact with the lees while the bottle is ageing. But the biggest advantage of all is in the attitude of the producers to this great format, since they feel that they benefit from more ageing, they almost always keep them on the lees longer.
One can see this trend in vintage Champagne easily. While we are offering the 2003 & 2004 Dom Perignon in 750, we still have the 2002 Dom Perignon in magnum. They are just starting to release the 2003 now, more than a year after the release of the 750s. We have moved to 2004 with Pierre Paillard in 750s, but have 2002 Pierre Paillard in magnum. With Champagne Bonville it is 2008 in 750 and 2007 in the big bottle. Louis Roederer’s Brut Rose is the same story, 2008 in 750, 2007 Rose in magnum. Pol Roger’s excellent Winston Churchill is 2000 vintage in 750 and 1999 in magnum.
On my last visit to Champagne I started asking producers about the base age of their non-vintage magnums after doing an accidental vertical of the non-vintage Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne with Paul Vincent Ariston. We started with the 2008 in 750, which is what we have on the shelf currently, moved on to the 2009 base which is now on the water, and when we gathered for dinner he offered a magnum as the aperitif, based on 2007. This--the Ariston Aspasie Blanc de Blancs Brut 1.5L ($79.99)--is what we have on the shelf and what is coming in the next shipment...with a full year of extra ageing than what we have in 750, soon to be more when the new shipment arrives!
We have Bruno Michel Rose on the way that is two years older than the 750s. The Marguet Brut Rose ($79.99) that I am pouring in the picture above received more than an extra year on the lees than the 750s from the same shipment. Jacquesson released their excellent "Cuvée 736" Brut Champagne in 750 in early spring, but it is only just now shipping in magnum. Checking the IDs on Krug Brut Rose ($699), the 750 (Krug ID 212020) has a youngest element from 2006, while the magnum (Krug ID 212024) is aged a full two more years with a youngest element from 2004. Both were disgorged in spring of 2012. Additional ageing happens at almost every Champagne house.
This translates into more depth, nuance and complexity in the Champagne served from magnum, without any sacrifice in freshness. In fact, I find the magnums to show more freshness. I hope that you’ll join me in drinking more from this most ideal of Champagne formats! Here is what we have in magnum:
Ariston Aspasie "Brut Prestige" Champagne (1.5L) $84.99
Baron-Fuenté "Grande Réserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $49.99
Billecart-Salmon "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $99.99
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $169
Bruno Michel "Blanche Brut" Champagne (1.5L) $79.99
Collard-Picard "Cuvee Selection" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $74.99
Collard-Picard "Dom Picard" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $129
Collard-Picard "Prestige" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $89.99
Fleury "Carte Rouge" Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne (1.5L) $84.99
Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $109
Franck Bonville "Belles Voyes" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $139
Franck Bonville "Brut Selection" Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $69.99
2007 Franck Bonville "Millesime" Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1.5L $84.99
Krug "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $399
Krug Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $699
Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne (1.5L) $69.99
Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne (1.5L) $89.99
2007 Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 1.5L $149
Marguet Pere et Fils "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne 1.5L $89.99
Marguet Pere et Fils Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $89.99
Michel Arnould Verzenay "Brut Reserve" Champagne (1.5L) $64.99
Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $74.99
Michel Loriot "Cuvée Reserve" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $65.99
2002 Moet & Chandon "Dom Pérignon" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $449
Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne (1.5L) $79.99
1999 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill Brut Champagne 1.5L $499
Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (1.5L) $129
Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne Magnum 1.5L $149
1990 Veuve Clicquot "Cave Privée" Brut Vintage Champagne (1.5L) $425
Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne (1.5L) $119
Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé Champagne (1.5L) $149
You are invited to click this link to browse all Champagne Magnums on KLWines.com.
A toast to you,