Just when you think that the topic of wine is starting to make sense and really come together for you, you’ll probably encounter the convention of naming large format wine bottles.
That should put you firmly back in your lowly place, since the convention of naming bottle sizes carries on the storied wine tradition of utilizing differing standards in order to confuse the living hell out of you.
The bottle is gorgeous (see inset pic), and it’s basically a Valentine’s Day gift for my wife, to be opened at our 10 or 15 year anniversary party (probably the 10… we’re not very patient). The trouble is, I don’t know what to call it.
Before we get into that, I should tell you a bit about Faust itself, I suppose.
Faust is the brainchild of Napa legend Agustin Huneeus, who started up Quintessa, owns Veramonte, and had a hand in making other stalwart Napa wines like Franciscan. It’s a big wine, but balanced and tight as a drum early on due to it’s massive, dark structure. It’s like the Darth Vader of Napa Cabs, and is (more or less) Quintessa’s more-affordable-but-still-pretty-damned-good “second wine.” Damned-good… Get it? Faust… damned… Ok, I’ll stop now…
As far as the 2006 goes, it’s 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc – all from Agustin’s family vineyards in Rutherford and Atlas Peak. As far as Hunees goes, according to the Faust website, “He also believes that numerical ratings, as they are used today, are an aberration.” Strong words.
Interestingly (as far as the bottle size discussion goes), I first tried this Faust vintage (via sample) in a 375 ml half-bottle. I’ve yet to have the wine from a “normal” 750 ml.
Anyway, on to the good and the ugly of this situation…
The very cool thing about large format bottles is that they have a smaller air-to-juice ratio than standard 750ml (or smaller) bottles. Theoretically, this mans that large format bottles can age longer than those smaller bottles, and in practical experience (tasting older vintages from large format bottles) I’ve found this to be the case. So, I’m excited in a geeky way about trying this stuff a few years from now. And, let’s face it, it’s just f*cking cool to crack open a huge bottle at a party (hence the good)!
Just don’t ask me what the damn thing should be called (that’s the ugly part).
The problem is that there are two standards when it comes to naming big bottles, neither of which – surprsie! - is at all user-friendly. Maddeningly, both standards – Burgundian and Bordelaise – come from the French, who presumably can’t agree with anyone on anything even within their own f*cking country.
Oh, yeah – and they’re named after biblical kings. Because, hey, it’s easy to spell “Nebuchadnezzar,” right? What tortured soul does this sh*t to poor wine lovers?!??
Here’s the run-down on the (both) standard names from thewinedoctor.com:
“What’s the big deal?” you might be asking yourself, “just pick one and use it, you doofus.” Well, most folks do (actualy, most geeks do, most normal folks just don’t even think about it), and they have tended to side with Burgundy.
But here’s the tendency-to-over-think-things rub: in the case of Napa, the style (and bottle shape!) of the wine are, of course, much closer to Bordeaux in spirit, taste, and presentation. So… do I call this 3L a Jéroboam (Burgundy style) or a Double Magnum (Bordeaux style)?
I’m leaning towards Jéroboam, not because I necessarily side with the Burgundians, but because “Double Magnum” sounds like a bad Charles Bronson movie. Or a brand of condom.
I’d love to hear your take on this – help a bruthah out!
If you’re interested in Faust, you can purchase their wines online (but only up to Magnum size!).