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Wine by the Gallon

I’ve spent a little time sorting out the digital photographs from my recent time in Bordeaux over the weekend – all 1221 of them! The subject depicted below, spotted in the cellars at Château de la Rivière in Fronsac, was perhaps one of the most unusual.

The 75 cl bottle and certain derivatives thereof have been the only legally permissible sizes for wine bottles as long as I can remember (I am that young – honest! :-)). Yes, I know there are exceptions, particularly some wines from the Jura that are permitted to use 62 cl bottles, and also sake (does that count? – it’s not something I have any experience of) which comes in 72 cl bottles.

Gallon bottles at Château de la Rivière

Some of these 75 cl-derivatives are in themselves impressive; also in the cellars at Château de la Rivière I caught sight of a Melchior, a monster bottle so large I haven’t even included it in my guide to wine bottle sizes (I will amend that now). This is an 18-litre vessel, equivalent to 24 standard bottles, in other words two cases!

More unusual though were the two remaining gallon bottles from the 1975 vintage; as the bin label above suggests, there were until recently four, but two having been sold just two more remain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen wine in gallon containers before (obviously I’m not including wine sold en vrac – I remember seeing these 30 years ago, where you took the pump in one hand and fill your own container – do they still exist?).

If you think you could manage a gallon (and it is a US gallon by the way, so approximately 3.78 litres) at one sitting (c’mon, you know you want to!) you should direct your inevitable enquiries towards the château, but don’t hold your breath. I imagine these two final bottles will be saved for some very special occasion.

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