Big bottle sizes may be an ego-booster for the person sharing them, but champagne in its XXL versions is also interesting for other reasons….
The champagne’s ageing potential is greatly increased and the drinking experience is further enhanced.
Sometimes, size really does matter !
First, a bit of history…
The 75cl bottle as we know it today has a specific origin and we owe that to our English neighbours.
In the 19th century, the wine trade, largely developed by the Bordeaux wine producers, had its own metric system.
In order to do business and facilitate trade with the English who used the gallon (1 gallon equals 4.54609 litres), the Bordeaux wine producers began to make barrels that could hold the equivalent of 50 gallons, i.e., 225 litres (the capacity of the famous “Barrique Bordelaise”). To make things easier, the 75cl capacity was chosen for the bottle, allowing a 225-litre barrel to fill with 300 bottles, a nice round number.
This practical format is still commonly used today, but it is the large-size bottles that quickly proved to be very beneficial for the wine and long before they were used to create a bit of a show in VIP nightclubs !
So, is the wine better in magnums ?
Yes, for an obvious reason. The magnum bottle is bigger, but its neck is not. This has an impact on the surface of the wine in contact with the air in the bottle. Aeration is thus reduced and the ageing process is slowed down.
Therefore, the bigger the container, the more the wine is able to refine itself with age while avoiding the micro-oxygenation that is more common in the traditional size bottle.
Another advantage of big bottles is their thermal inertia: they take longer to cool down when subjected to temperature variations, and are therefore less prone to temperature shocks.
Often adopted for great cuvées and vintage wines, magnums, jeroboams and other XXL sizes are also used for brut champagnes or premium champagne blends.
At Champagne de Saint-Gall, our Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru is available in magnums and jeroboams, as are most of our champagnes.
There is also another lesser-known benefit of a larger size bottle: it saves the incessant trips back and forth between the dinner table and the wine cellar at large gatherings.
You don’t always think about these things, but they do make a difference !