Friday, September 16, 2011

Big Ol' Bottles of Wine

BBQs at Purple Mom and Purple Dad's house always give a good reason to blog.  The one we had most recently to celebrate the final push of summer provided another great wine topic - wine bottle size.

But first, I must give a shout out to the Sauvignon Blanc of the evening.  As I've said before, not much is better than an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc on a hot summer day. And the same holds true for the Sauvignon Blanc from Cupcake Vineyards. This bottle retails for $9 - $10. The grassy nose leads to a clean, crisp and citrus taste.  A great buy for the money!

I have so much to say about DeLille Cellars as it is one of my favorite Washington wineries.  Trying to stick with the theme of bottle size so I'll keep the D2 tasting notes short and save the topic of DeLille for a future blog.  D2 is a blend of 41% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  The 2004 vintage has a nose of oak and berry and cherries and blackberries dominate the lengthy finish.  The velvety Merlot like mouth feel and fruit forward taste put D2 high up in the ranks of Purple Girl's favorites.

Now more about bottles... so, why buy a large-format bottle anyway?  First of all, it certainly makes an impression on those who are lucky enough to share the bottle.  There is something special about seeing a bottle that you can't find in your local grocery store.  But, for Purple Girl and most wine connoisseurs out there, having a large-format bottle is not all about image.  Since the ratio of air to liquid is lower in large-format bottles, these large vessels are superior to their "standard" counterparts in maturing wine as it allows the wine to age more slowly.  This particular bottle (shown above) is a Magnum, which is 1.5 liters of wine and is the equivalent of two standard bottles.

Now for the big kahuna of the evening... the Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico.  This Reserve from 2003 made its home in a Double Magnum bottle, which is 3 liters of liquid and the equivalent to four standard bottles of wine.  (As an aside, 3 liters of sparkling wine is called a Jeroboam).  This Chianti is medium bodied and tastes of cherries, vanilla and has hints of smoke flavor.  And the structure of the wine held up nicely in the large format bottle.

In case you are interested, the largest wine bottle is called the Sovereign and is the equivalent of a whopping 34 standard bottles.  Probably would take a fork lift to get it on the table.  Following behind is the Melchior (24 bottles), Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles and don't ask me how to pronounce it), Balthazar (16 bottles), Salmanazar (12 bottles), Imperial (8 bottles), Jeroboam (6 bottles of still wine), and then the Double Magnum and Magnum discussed above.  No one is really sure why larger format bottles were given biblical names.  The earliest recorded use of a biblical name for these bottles was in 1725 when the Jeroboam was named after the biblical founder of Israel because he was referred to as a "a man of great worth", as were large sized bottles.  The largest bottle I've ever had the privilege to drink out of was an Imperial.  Quite impressive to say the least.

So there you have it, your lesson in wine bottles.  Go for the Magnum next time - you'll be glad you did!


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