Premium Large Format Wines

Expert Picks

Andrew Facey

While glass has been the preferred choice for wine storage and transportation for hundreds of years, it has only been since the early 1970s that the size of a wine bottle has been standardized at 750 ml. Any wine bottle that contains more than 750 ml may be considered large format.

Wine is one of the few perishable items that does not fall into the “buy bigger pay less” model we often see. I remember when I first started at the NLC many people wanted to know why this was so? The answer comes down to the amount of exposure the wine has to oxygen – the wine killer! As wine bottles get bigger the amount of oxygen trapped between the cork and the wine stays basically the same. For this reason larger format bottles allow the wine to age and develop slower – often for decades or longer.

At NLC, we have recently brought in some lovely new examples of these “trophy” size wine bottles which are great for Christmas gatherings with family and friends. As you will read below we have something for everyone, from white to rose to red – even some bubbles!

Domaine Guillaume Vrignaud AOP Chablis 2019

While working at Bianca’s restaurant on Water Street in the late 1990’s I was introduced to wine. Chablis, a crisp white wine from Burgundy, was the first white that made me realize that all white wines did not taste the same, and helped put me on my wine journey. This magnum (a word used to describe the 1500 ml format) is 100% organic, 100% Chardonnay and 100% delicious! Fermented and aged in stainless steel (no oak here!), this wine is clean and crisp, with notes of lemon and green apple with a beautiful minerality making it a perfect match to raw oysters on the half shell or most any seafood dish for that matter.

Cotes Des Roses Rose

Many of you might recognize this rose from the two smaller formats that we already carry (375 ml and 750 ml). This dry rose by Gerard Bertrand is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. On the palate you can expect fresh red fruits (strawberry and raspberry) and citrus, with slight herbal and floral notes reminiscent of rose petals. This wine makes a great aperitif or would be the ideal companion to salads, especially those that feature similar coloured seafood like salmon or tuna.

Boutinot Les Six Cairanne AOC

In 2016 the southern Rhone Valley region of Cairanne was granted “Cru” status – up from the “Cotes-du-Rhone Villages” title that it previously held. Top wine aficionados – Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson – claim that this village is one of the southern Rhone’s most exciting and upcoming regions. A blend of six different red varietals – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise and Carignan – this full-bodied wine is bursting with both red and black fruits and has a distinct spicy, black pepper streak running through it. Personally I am hoping to pop this bad boy into a decanter one morning over the Christmas break and then quaff it down with a nice cut of beef or lamb later that evening.

Banfi Cuvee Aurora Rose

Festive occasions are made all the more festive when people have a flute of bubbles in their hand. This dry, rose, sparkling wine is made from Pinot Noir (called Pinot Nero in Italy), and will be the hit of any Christmas gathering that it is invited to. Made in the “traditional method” it features a lovely bead of small bubbles that tickle the tongue and whet one’s appetite for food. In addition to being the perfect aperitif this wine will go with so many different foods that it is hard to pinpoint its best match. Suffice to say it is great with most any finger food or appetizer that one may pair it with, as well as with a roasted chicken or seared salmon fillets.

Banfi Centine Rosso Toscana

5000ml bottles of wine are often referred to as “Jeroboams” – named after the biblical first king of Northern Kingdom of Israel, and they tip the scale at almost 6.75 regular size bottles! Centine, pronounced CHEN tee nay, has been a big seller at Liquor Stores for years, although don’t be confused by the new label as it’s still the same juice. It is an Italian blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. Expect both dried and fresh cherries on the nose and palate, with slight vanilla notes coming from a short aging period in French oak barrels. This wine will go with a myriad of different foods but as a meat eater I would have this with a well-seasoned steak from the BBQ.

Due to their great ability to slowly age these make great gifts for people looking to lay a wine down for future consumption – maybe to celebrate the birth of a child or an anniversary.

Bio: Andrew, NLC’s Senior Product Knowledge Consultant, joined NLC in 2008 after a successful 15 year career as a fine-dining waiter. As a certified Sommelier, Andrew has taught many NLC employees and customers the first two levels of the International Sommelier Guild (ISG) program and is qualified to teach WSET (Wine and Spirit Educational Trust) classes. While wine is his primary forte, he is also very well versed in spirits through his WSET training (Honours) and has achieved the first level of the Cicerone program, with proven experience in selecting today’s wide range of beers.

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