Big Bottles Galore
When we choose any wine, we look for something distinctive. When we choose a wine in a large bottle, we feel even more invested. If you're gonna commit to a large format (1.5 liters or larger), it should be something that has the potential to really knock your socks off.
It's the perfect time of year to stock up on a few nice magnums. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, a perfect opportunity to share a big bottle. A couple of the gems below are noteworthy candidates for extended cellaring, and would make great gifts for a curious or serious wine lover.
Lapierre Raisins Gaulois 2018 3L
Let's get the really big one out of the way. The rest are 1.5L bottles, this pup is a 3L. From the hands of Mathieu and Camille Lapierre, following in the path of their father Marcel, come wines that are considered by many to be the very best of Beaujolais. There's so much competition in Beaujolais these days, there are so many names to follow, but Lapierre remains a luminary, and their Morgon is routinely one of the region's finest and most age-worthy wines. Their Raisins Gaulois, however, is a seriously juicy contender today, and it will kill at a Thanksgiving table. Pure and perfectly tart fruits are the focus here. It is soft yet refreshing, a very easy sipper and very food friendly.
Anne Sophie Dubois Fleurie 'L'Alchimiste' 2016 1.5L
Anne Sophie Dubois is one of the brightest young stars in Beaujolais. Farming eight organic hectares in Fleurie, with many old vines, we have rarely tasted more impressive Gamay. This 2016 Fleurie comes from vines over 40 years old, and it is fermented in concrete before aging in neutral oak. It is spicy, floral, very fruity and immensely complex on the nose. Richly textured but light on its feet, it is a young Beaujolais with fruit on its mind, and though it is structured enough to age for years, it is also going to be an easy sipper at the table, soft tannins and bright acids working to refresh the palate through dinner. This is Beaujolais of the highest order, and super yummy besides.
La Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé 2018 1.5L
Always a good choice when considering a wine to go with a diverse spread of food, a fine pink wine from Provence is hard to beat at Thanksgiving. Routinely one of the best rosé wines we carry, this Bandol ages beautifully for a few years and only really starts to sing the autumn after its release. It is focused on fresh red fruit flavors, with citrus, herbs and flowers backing up the chorus of tart berries.
The Withers El Dorado Rosé 2018 1.5L
Inspired by the great pink wines of Bandol, this California blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault lives up to its idols; it is an elegant and intense wine that will age beautifully for years. Focused on citrus and crunchy stone fruits, with just a hint of red berry, it is much like a white wine and will work wonders at a bountiful table. This 2018 El Dorado is a triumph for California, and one would be well served to save some for next year's feast.
Dr Loosen Riesling Urziger Wurzgarten 'Fischerei' Spatlese 2014 1.5L
Dr. L is one of the Mosel's historic properties, with holdings in several of the regions most famous vineyards, like the great Urziger Wurzgarten, the spice garden of Urzig. This 2014 Spatlese comes from a select parcel that Ernie Loosen waited many years to work with, and he considers it one of his finest expressions of this hallowed site. It should be entering a beautiful place at age five, but it will surely blossom for many more years. A sweet Riesling meant for the dinner table, it will not be nearly sweet enough for dessert, but will stand up to just about any tough savory pairing. It seems that every aspect of Riesling (quality, price, versatility, terroir drive...) is undervalued, but you can make the case for its preeminence at Thanksgiving, it won't let you down.
Pierre Gerbais Champagne Etra Brut 'Grains de Celles NV 1.5L
Year in and year out, this wine is one of the best values we find in Champagne. Very dry, this Extra Brut has an intense fruitiness that keeps it friendly. Notes of crisp yellow apple, peach, white flowers, mint and sweet brioche combine beautifully, before the palate turns clean and tart, with lovely echoes of its flavors lingering delicately. This is an Extra Brut with a gentle touch and it is great on its own or with just about any savory pairing. What's even better, it's exactly double the price of a 750ml bottle, which is rare to find when it comes to big bottles of Champagne, there's usually a premium for large formats.
Le Piane Boca 2015 1.5L
This winery is gaining momentum. The quality here is second to none, and it is just a matter of time before a wider audience begins to take notice. Stock up on current vintages of Le Piane Boca, and you will be very well rewarded down the line. Long home to Italy's greatest red grape, Nebbiolo, the Boca region was once more famous than Barolo, which is now the center of attention for great Nebbiolo. These days, Boca's vineyards are largely abandoned, but since the 90s Le Piane has led the charge in re-introducing the world to one of Nebbiolo's greatest terroirs. The soils of Boca are volcanic and acidic, quite different from the basic limestone soils of Barolo and Barbaresco. In the wines of Boca, the tannins of Nebbiolo are softer and alcohol levels tend to be lower, compared to the wines of Barolo. Just like Barolo, a fine Boca is a serious red wine worth saving for decades, and Le Piane's 2015 Boca is about as fine as it gets, but it is open-knit and radiant today, just give it a quick decant and you'll be in business. It is focused on fruit, with intense sweet berry and plum notes, while hints of roasted herbs, licorice, roses and mint lend plenty of intrigue. Out of all the magnums on this list, this is the most promising for the future. Drink it today, or hold it for 20+ years
Lopez de Heredia Rioja Reserva 'Vina Tondonia' 2006 1.5L
If you love red wine and you've not tasted any Lopez de Heredia, you're really missing out. Lopez de Heredia is widely regarded as one of Spain's best wineries, and they release all of their wines late, which means you not only get some of Rioja's very best wine, you also get it when it's perfectly mature. This 2006 will be a revelation for those who have never tasted a mature red wine; its flavors are myriad and endlessly engaging, its tannins are smooth and velvety, it finishes long and savory as only a mature oak-aged red can. This is also just about the most impressive looking bottle you're going to find; put this down on the table and people take notice; it's taller than the average magnum, and it's looking classy bearing a matte version of its old-school label. There's so much to love about Lopez de Heredia. If you don't know them yet, move quickly, these are some of the most memorable wines you will ever taste, and you'll want to taste them again and again.