The Magic of Magnums

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Ridgeview Magnum Blanc de Blancs

Magnum Wines and the Art of Ageing

Popping the cork on a magnum of English sparkling wine is a surefire way to supersize any celebration. We’re diving into these beautiful big bottles to explore exactly what makes the wine inside such a treat. Your magnum masterclass starts here.

Twice the size, double the fun. For vintage English sparkling wines such as our Blanc de Blancs Magnum, that’s certainly a big part of the appeal. More glasses poured, more palates pleased, more revelry to share around. And the grandeur of the 1.5L format only adds to its unique charms. However, there is some additional winemaking alchemy taking place inside the bottle that makes a sparkling magnum such a great special-occasion wine, not to mention the perfect wine gift. And it’s all to do with how these wines mature once bottled.

There are two fundamental ageing processes at play inside any bottle of Classic Method English sparkling wine. Both contribute to the complexity of flavours in the final wine, and both produce markedly different outcomes when they get to work inside a magnum.

Magnum Lees ageing: The gift that keeps on giving

First, there is lees ageing. Lees are spent yeast cells originally added to the bottle alongside the blended base wine to trigger the second, fizz-inducing fermentation. These cells begin to break down once they expire – a process known as autolysis – and gradually impart the brioche, biscuit, pastry or toasty flavours that are a hallmark of any well-aged English sparkling wine. 

In a 75cl bottle, it’s easy for the lees to form a clump on the inside of the resting surface of the bottle. But in a magnum, where there is a greater surface area of glass for the lees to rest against, they tend to spread out more. This means more contact between lees and wine, more autolysis and more of those characteristic bakery-shop flavours. 

Crucially, autolysis is a slow process. It can take a decade or more for the yeast cells to break down, and the few maverick winemakers who let lees ageing play out in full achieve extraordinary results. Our 2010 Blanc de Blancs Magnums, for instance, were left on their lees for 13 years, adding phenomenal complexity to the final wine.

Oxidative ageing: The slower the better

The second maturation component in fine aged English wines is oxygen. How does oxygen seep into an airtight bottle under six atmospheres of pressure? In minuscule quantities and very very slowly. As the wine comes into contact with these tiny doses of air, gentle oxidation occurs and the wine subtly matures. 

In the case of vintage English sparkling wines, this leads to more candied fruit, nutty and honeyed notes. And once again, the size of a magnum has a pronounced effect on the way the wine inside ages.

This is due to the greater wine-to-air ratio in magnums. More wine + less oxygen = more gradual maturation. Put simply, this means an English sparkling wine ageing in a magnum stays fresher as it evolves, retaining its original citrus notes as those richer, riper flavours develop. 

Even after over a dozen years resting quietly in our naturally cool underground cellars, the balance and complexity of our magnums is something to behold. As so often with wine – and in keeping with our commitment to quality – time and patience are the key to maturing magical magnums.

Magnum Ageing in Action

To understand the beauty maturation in action, compare the tasting notes for our 2010 Blanc de Blancs from its original release a decade ago to its release in magnum in 2023.

Ridgeview Magnum Blanc de Blancs

Wine magnums: A gift for the party season

Whether you’re buying for yourself or choosing the perfect gift for the English sparkling wine lover in your life, there is no better time to indulge in a Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs Magnum 2010. It’s a showstopper of a party wine that will take pride of place on the Christmas dinner table. 

For festive giving, our magnums come presented in a luxury gift box befitting the sheer quality of the contents. And while it will be hard for anyone to resist the temptation to open it at the earliest opportunity, that slow ageing and astonishing balance mean our magnums will be box-fresh for future celebrations too.

More than anything, it’s a truly special wine gift. This is a rare limited release and aged English sparkling wines of this calibre just don’t come along very often. And don’t forget you can enjoy a 20% discount on this (and all Ridgeview wines) when you join OurView Wine Club.

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We are proud sponsors of The Beauty Show Live (at the Business Design Centre in London on 20 and 21 September 2024). Brought to you by the producers of Marie Claire, woman&home and Who What Wear, this brand new event celebrates everything the beauty industry has to offer all under one roof. VIP tickets include full access to the Ridgeview VIP lounge with complimentary beauty treatments, a premium beauty box, a free glass of Ridgeview sparkling wine and so much more…

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