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Wine

The Best Magnums for Your Money

December 10, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

Wine

The Best Magnums for Your Money

December 10, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

Because nothing says "life of the party" like two wines in one.

It’s possible to consume a magnum of wine by yourself, but that doesn’t make it advisable. The equivalent of two bottles in one, the party-sized format necessarily implies a crowd. 

For reasons both practical and psychological, then, the magnum has been of limited utility these past two years. Case in point: the magnum of Champagne, purchased on a whim in February 2020, that continues to gather dust in my closet. Wedged between an old suitcase and a crate of shoes, the bottle assumed an exaggerated significance during the pandemic, a relic of simpler times. 

Of course, the situation could change at any moment. But with this year’s holiday gatherings poised to be far more IRL than the last, maybe it’s not too soon to entertain 1.5-liter-sized hopes once again. If anything, the diverse assortment of large-format bottles currently in the market appears to suggest as much. 

From familiar standbys (Beaujolais, Chablis, sparkling rosé) to far more esoteric fare (unfortified, flor-aged palomino fino; juicy Campanian field blends), there’s no shortage of excellent options that— importantly—won’t drain your holiday gift fund. All produced by small growers and available for less than $75, here are 10 bonus-sized bottles to help get you through whatever form this year’s festivities will take. —Zachary Sussman

Sparkling

Raventós I Blanc Conca del Riu Anoia de Nit Reserva Rosé

A cava in all but name, Catalonia’s revered Raventós winery famously defected from the appellation, opting to bottle their wines under the recently created Conca del Riu Anoia designation. A pioneer of organic farming in the region, they’ve long been a standard-bearer of quality for the new wave of estate-grown Catalonian bubbly, as exemplified by this bone-dry, deeply savory rosé. Blended from the classic cava grapes of xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada and monastrell, it’s the perfect all-purpose bubbly that can keep you company straight through a meal.

  • Price: $55
  • Vintage: 2018

Les Capriades Piège à Filles Rosé

Specializing exclusively in the style, Pascal Potaire of the Loire’s Les Capriades winery has arguably done more than anyone to elevate pét-nat to an art form, but as this benchmark expression makes clear, he never sacrifices the style’s signature drinkability. Blended mostly from gamay, with a hint of côt (aka malbec), cabernet franc and pineau d’aunis, it’s disgorged for extra transparency and contains a touch of berry sweetness and a whiff of earthy funk. Considering how quickly it tends to disappear, the magnum should be the wine’s standard format.

  • Price: $64
  • Vintage: 2018

White

Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Clos de Briords

Founded by Loire icon Marc Olivier, Domaine de la Pépière has played an instrumental role in the modern renaissance of terroir-driven, extensively lees-aged Muscadet. From a single 3-hectare plot of old vines, the classic Clos de Briords cuvée always represents a significant step up from the winery’s entry-level Muscadet, revealing a tension between stony minerality, citrus pith and tidal pool freshness. It’s just one of several large-format bottlings from the domaine that you’ll find floating through the market, including the richly structured Château-Thébaud, aged 30 months sur lie, and the celebrated Clisson, an ode to the area’s granite-based soils. 

  • Price: $48
  • Vintage: 2020 (and others)

Francine et Olivier Savary Chablis

With price inflation running rampant across Burgundy, from top to bottom, it’s a holiday miracle to find a whole magnum of Chablis—the region’s chilliest and northernmost growing area—from a great producer at such a reasonable tariff. With a touch of the warm 2019 vintage’s extra flesh on its bones, this organically farmed village-level offering from husband-and-wife team Olivier and Francine Savary still delivers tons of steely, oyster shellinflected minerality, plus just the right amount of texture for cold-weather drinking.

  • Price: $72
  • Vintage: 2019

Bodegas Cota 45 UBE Miraflores

Mirroring so much of modern wine culture, the contemporary trend toward unfortified table wines in Andalucía’s Sherry region signals a return to the past. Equal parts historian and winemaker, Ramiro Ibáñez of the visionary Cota 45 pays homage to the traditional wine styles found in the region before industrialization made fortification widespread in the 1970s. Sourced from Sanlúcar’s historic Miraflores vineyard (or pago, to use the local term) and fermented, like all of his wines, in used manzanilla barrels, this entry-level expression of the range bursts with tangy green apples, round acidity and the same salty, nutty pungency found in the region’s famous manzanilla sherry. 

  • Price: $68
  • Vintage: 2020

Red

Cantina Giardino Vino Rosso

Dedicated to the mission of preserving the ancient vineyards and native grapes of Campania’s mountainous Irpina zone, Cantina Giardino sources fruit from no fewer than 16 parcels—a heroic undertaking that forms part of the wider excavation of Southern Italy’s identity. Bottled exclusively in magnum, their easy-drinking, blood orangescented Rosso features aglianico, the area’s star red grape, with a smidge of coda di volpe, a local white grape that contributes freshness and aromatic lift.

  • Price: $38
  • Vintage: 2020

Clos de la Roilette Fleurie Cuvée Tardive

Magnum bottlings have become a calling card among Beaujolais’ top producers, who understand the irresistible appeal of drinking their wines in large quantities. The rare example of a beloved classic that has managed to remain affordable and widely available, Clos de la Roilette’s Tardive bottling always reveals the more structured side of Fleurie, given the vineyard’s proximity to the neighboring cru of Moulin-à-Vent. Though intended for aging (especially when featured in magnum), the current 2020 release offers plenty of charm right away, with mouthwatering acidity, dark cherries and fennel pollen.

  • Price: $46
  • Vintage: 2020

Arianna Occhipinti SP68 IGT Sicilia Rosso

A leader of Sicily’s naturalist avant-garde, Arianna Occhipinti helped redefine the island’s trajectory via fresh, vibrant reds that drank like Southern Italy’s answer to cru Beaujolais. Named after the road that runs through her subzone of Vittoria, Occhipinti’s SP68 rosso channels the area’s classic mix of frappato and nero d’avola grapes into the perfect introduction to her lo-fi style. Full of warm, sunny blackberries and thyme, it’s lifted and floral, without a trace of southerly heft or weight—all the more reason to buy it in large format.

  • Price: $57
  • Vintage: 2020

Envínate Almansa Garnacha Tintorera Albahra

Formed in 2008 by four friends who met while studying enology in Alicante, the Envínate project quickly ascended the ranks of Spain’s vibrant natural wine scene. Best known for their work focusing on old-vine, site-specific wines from the Atlantic-influenced regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands, the team also farms three parcels of a high-elevation vineyard in Castilla-La Mancha to produce their introductory Albahra bottling. A mix of garnacha tintorera (aka alicante bouschet) and the little-known moravia agria (a local oddity historically used for blending), it’s surprisingly bright and strawberry-tinged, with minty undertones and a wash of black olive on the finish.

  • Price: $61
  • Vintage: 2020

Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux

Now joined by his son Matthieu, Loire legend Bernard Baudry consistently turns out some of the most elegant wines of Chinon, combining the drinkability that first established the area’s wines as bistro classics with the depth and profundity of great Burgundy. A longtime Punch favorite (Editor in Chief Talia Baiocchi included it as a personal Thanksgiving pick a few years back), the domaine’s single-vineyard Les Grézeaux, harvested from a parcel of old vines in the village of Sonnay, occupies a particular sweet spot in the lineup. It’s got all the stuffing and gravelly minerality to age for decades, but with a little air, it opens up into a silky, brambly effort that perpetually outperforms its humble price tag.

  • Price: $66
  • Vintage: 2018

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