June 3, 2020
by Bruce Neyers
Mother’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year, but Father’s Day runs a close second. Here’s an idea for a unique gift for dad this year, a magnum of the Neyers 2016 ÂME Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was fortunate to get attracted to magnums early in my wine career. In the spring of 1972, I had been working at Connoisseur Wine Imports in San Francisco for over a year. Art Formicelli was a partner, and he had just returned from a buying trip to Bordeaux, where he discovered a treasure trove of old vintages from Château Calon-Segur, a wine with a strong Bay Area following. The wines had been stored at the Château since bottling.
To promote the sale of these impeccable wines, the owners decided to hold a dinner for our top customers allowing them to taste a selection of them with a meal designed to show them at their best. One of my colleagues at the store was a Stanford mathematician turned chef named Rick Sajbel (SHY-BELL). He was asked to select the wines to show and develop a menu around them. Rick settled on 12 bottlings – all from top vintages of the 20th century going back to 1906. Rick asked me to join him in the kitchen to help serve the wines, which of course meant I could taste them all, and enjoy the dinner, as well.
We met a few days before the dinner to go over the details, and I learned that all 12 of the wines were to be served from magnums. Art carefully explained that old, rare wines like these would be best from a magnum.
While magnum bottles are twice the size of 750ml bottles, he told me, there tends to be about the same amount of oxygen in both, so a magnum will age more slowly than a 750ml bottle. This slower rate of oxidation allows for the formation of more aromatic compounds, so wine from a magnum tends to be more complex than the same wine from a 750ml bottle. Wine bottled in magnums also oxidizes slower, allowing for more development before the normal process of aging overtakes the fruit, and the wine begins to tire.
Forty years after these lessons from one of the most scholarly wine lovers in my life, I still find myself buying magnums for my personal use. I know the wine is going to taste better and last longer than the same wine served from a 750ml bottle. Add to that the celebratory aspect of a big bottle sitting on your table, and you have two pretty good reasons to buy wine in magnums.
Over the years, we’ve bottled many of our wines at Neyers Vineyards in magnums, but we were especially taken with the 2016 ÂME Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a vintage that Wine Spectator has called ‘Stunning’. The wine already shows great promise and will brighten both your cellar and your dinner table. You don’t have to be a father to own it, but I can’t imagine one who won’t appreciate it as a gift. While you’re at it, you should probably pick up a few bottles of this wine in 750 ml format. They’ll be great when dad’s dining alone with mom.
2016 ÂME Cabernet Sauvignon