Magnum opus masterpieces

Magnum opus masterpieces

Wine is one of those pleasures that’s best enjoyed when shared.
After all, what’s grander than a bottle of fine wine at a family get-together, a celebratory dinner, or just as a gift? The name magnum is derived from the Latin word for ‘great’.

A magnum holds two standard 750ml bottles or a dozen 125ml glasses of wine, and is generally considered as the optimal size for bottle-ageing fine wine because it matures more slowly and gracefully in bigger bottles. Here are a few of my favourites…

1) Rioja and Roll at Aldi

Pata Negra Rioja Reserva 2015, Rioja, Spain, 1.5L (Aldi, £15.99)

Aldi’s seasonal run of tasty Riojas in magnum format is worth marauding as they knock spots off other supermarkets’ examples. Rioja’s red Reservas are aged a minimum of three years, of which one year must be spent in 225-litre barrica bordelesa casks (introduced by the French in the mid-19th century). This silky and easy-drinking example is laden with dark plum, red and black cherry fruit, a hint of tobacco and supple tannins, making it smooth, rather elegant and approachable. It won’t be especially long-lived, but for early drinking it’s full of charm. Get in fast as stocks are very limited. Fragrant, fresh and moreish, this is just the thing for any spread featuring grouse, rack of lamb, roast pork, lamb Rogan Josh, Manchego or quail – and it’s a terrific all-round red bet for Christmas turkey as well. A true steal and testament to the keen noses at Aldi who regularly sniff out notable bang-for-the-buck wines like this one. Alc 13.5%


2) Classy Party
Provençal Rosé

AIX Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence 2018, France, 1.5L (£25.99, Majestic)

Lower in acidity than many still wines, pale, bone-dry, pink peppercorn and watermelon-scented Provençal rosé gets my magnum party wine vote, so nip off to revitalised Majestic before everyone else does. Just the job for grilled fish, canapés or sushi. Alc 13%


3) Must-Try Gently Oaked
White ‘Bargaindy’

Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles 2016, Burgundy, France, 1.5L 

(Corney & Barrow exclusive, £43)

I am always on the hunt for reliably great value white Burgundy. The standard bearer for the regional classification of Bourgogne Blanc, ‘Les Sétilles’ comes from some 60 plots, with the majority in Meursault and around 40% from Puligny-Montrachet. It’s a joy to drink with a panoply of white peach, grilled almond, poached pear, vanilla, fig, faint flint and grapefruit, with both oak mainly from older barrels (just 12% new oak) and citrusy acidity handmaidens in support. Enhanced with some aeration, even more so with crab linguine, pumpkin risotto, mushroom omelette, charcuterie or goat’s cheese. Very stylish. Alc 13%


4) Well-Aged Cult Magnum for
the Fine Wine Connoisseur

Bodegas R López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Tinto Reserva 2006, Rioja, Spain, 1.5L (£65-£74.50, Laithwaites/Berry Bros & Rudd)

If you are looking for early Christmas presents for impossible-to-buy-for parties, then this is a small price to pay for an exceedingly impressive gift. Use any yardstick you wish, this is a gorgeous wine from Haro’s oldest bodega (1877), which is still family run and features a Zaha Hadid-designed shop. A ripe blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, this dream of an elite Rioja spent six years in used oak barriques and will age like a charm. It mingles those lightly toasty oak notes with the taste of red fruits, liquorice, tobacco and a hint of vanilla. Decant (splashily) an hour or three before serving. Jump at this wine if you get the chance. Alc 13%


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