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Getting a Bang Out of Holiday Magnums

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Holidays and wine are always a good match, and magnums of wine (1.5 L) brighten up December and gladden hearts. While magnum gun sales are also going on, wine magnums are often a better bang for the buck buy. Useful information on purchasing magnums and other large format bottles are presented below.

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One might think the larger bottle size permits a discount over buying two 750ml bottles. This would be correct for lower-priced mass market wines like Woodbridge and Corbett Canyon. In fact Corbett Canyon offers magnums and casks (box wine) at very reasonable prices, sourcing their grapes from Chile’s Valle Centrale region.

However, things change when dealing with higher-end wines. Many of these larger format bottles are produced in limited quantities. Magnum and large-sized bottles do provide a better environment for wine to age, so the great French Bordeaux and Burgundy chateau put some of their best wines in magnum, Jeroboam (5 liters) and larger formats up to a Melchior, which holds the equivalent of 24 bottles, or two cases. The Jeroboam size bottle is 3 liters for champagne, but 5 liters for Bordeaux wines, but the difference will be clear when one lifts the bottle.

Obviously most of these are special occasion wines and the largest require a cradle and crank arm to properly pour the wine. Once one goes beyond the magnum size, nearly all such wines are some premium over the equivalent in 750ml bottles and require a large enthusiastic group of friends and relatives to participate in their consumption. Also since these wines have typically aged for some period, the initial price tag can be daunting.

Milagro Vineyards in Corrales, New Mexico is a quality producer of fine wines and will offer some of its most popular wines in magnum bottles the weekend of December 14/15. If one is shopping for the perfect gift for a wine lover the 2008 Milagro Chardonnay, Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc will do the trick. The 2007 Milagro Old Church Road Zinfandel is an awesome Zin with great structure and complex fruit. However, as the saying goes, quantities are limited.

This weekend Milagro Vineyards will be open Saturday from 11am until 4pm and Sunday from noon until 4pm. They will also be releasing the 2010 Syrah. The 2009 Syrah was awarded the Jefferson medal of Excellence and the 2010 Syrah looks to be following in its footsteps. This is the perfect way to shop; sample great wine in the lovely village of Corrales and bring home those special magnums to celebrate the holidays.

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