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Majestic Wines 11/00

by Tom Cannavan

Part I - sparkling, white and sweet wines

This was a trade tasting of all the newest lines/vintages available in Majestic Wine Warehouses, the UK's "by the case" specialist. Majestic have branches across the UK, and now a rather good e-commerce site with free delivery from your nearest store. Some of these wines will also be available in other retailers both in the UK and abroad.
See also Part II - red and fortified wines.


Hunter's (NZ) Miru Miru 1998 £11.99. £9.59 when you buy 2+
Good, steady stream of small bubbles. Nose of caramel and fudge over toasty peach and orange. Fresh on the palate with a light but persistent mousse and quite full-bodied with plenty of citrus fruit and acidity. Very good.

Yellowglen (Australia) Pinot Noir Chardonnay £8.49. £6.37 when you buy 6+
Fine bubbles. Lots of toasty, vanillin richness again on the nose. Lots of body to the mousse and a generous, full, peachy palate. Good.

Oeil de Perdrix Champagne NV £16.99. £12.75 when you buy 2+
I usually enjoy this wine. Fine bubbles. Light, creamy strawberry and raspberry fruit on the nose and touch of caramel. Quite bright and zippy on the palate with nice tart berry fruit and medium body. Nice rich mousse. Good.

Mumm Cordon Rouge Vintage 1990, Cuvée Limité £19.99. Normally £34.99
Heavy post-millennium discounting on a Champagne from a house that has been in the doldrums a little in terms of quality. Having said that, under £20 now looks like a serious bargain for a wine with fine, steady bubbles and a complex, lightly oxidised nose showing yeast, nettles and a richer caramel note. Palate is very fruity and full with a mature creaminess and nutty quality but still enough freshness. Drinking well now. Very good.


Barberani (Italy) Orvieto Classico Vigneto Mortaro 1999 £4.49. Buy 2 save £1 = £3.99
This has a lovely nuttiness with a distinct almondy sweetness to plenty of peach kernel and apricot fruit. More of the same on the palate with a warm and spicy undertone and round, generous acidity that is very harmonious. Delicious and very good.

Antinori (Italy) Chardonnay Castello della Sala 1999 £6.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £6.49
Tiny nuances of liquorice and sweet oak precede almond, fig and peach. This is a savoury style with a palate showing clean, limpid apple fruit, great definition and fine length. Terrific stuff.

Vinea Doni Falchini (Italy) Vernaccia di San Gimignano 1998 £9.49
Very distinctive nose with herbs, flowers and leafy aromatics, some parma-violet sweetness. The palate has plenty going on too with herb-tinged melon and apple fruit that is cool and classy, plenty of acidity giving a serious edge to the long finish. Very good.

Roger Neveu (Loire) Sancerre 1999 £7.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £7.49
Pungently flinty at first, lots of minerality on the nose with tiny confectionery notes over gooseberry fruit. Just like a gooseberry fool, the palate has a soft texture and plenty of ripe fruit before gentle acidity. Very good.

Fournier (Loire) Pouilly Fumé Vieilles Vignes 1998 £9.99
Very smoky, ashy, herb and mineral nose. Notes of lemon and juicy lime zest. Lots of sweet, ripe fruit on the palate, the explosive ripeness tempered by again that gorgeous smokiness which carries through into a long, beautifully balanced finish. Outstanding.

Fournier (Loire) Sancerre Vieilles Vignes 1998 £8.99
Leafy gooseberry fruit leads on to a soft and mellow nose with hints of tropical lychee and peach. Plenty of ripe fruit on the palate that is sweet and lush. Not the length, nor complexity of the previous wine, but very good.

Buxy (Burgundy) Bourgogne Blanc 1998 £4.49. Buy 2 save £1 = £3.99
A clean pleasant nose leads onto a decent mouthful of melon and orchard fruit. Good balance, if a little dull.

Louis Latour (Burgundy) St-Véran Les Deux Moulins 1999 £7.49. Buy 2 save £1 = £6.99
Nice notes of butter and yeast on the nose. Some pear, apple and melon fruit. Richly-textured palate with acid-drop acidity freshening the finish. Quite good.

Fevre (Burgundy) Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 1996 £4.99 (half bottle)
Nice little butterscotch and fudge notes round-out some slightly green fruit which is firm and appley. Fruit on the palate is tight but crisp and juicy. This is a steely style of Chablis that needs food, but it is well-balanced, so perhaps a few years in the bottle will do the trick.

Vocoret (Burgundy) Chablis 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes Vaillons 1999 £9.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £9.49
Notes of dill and butter add interest to ripe orchard fruits. On the palate it is quite richly textured with plenty of juicy, fresh, fruity flavours and good citrus acidity. Very good.

Vocoret (Burgundy) Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 1999 £9.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £9.49
Crisp lemon, lime and juicy apple fruit on the nose. Tight profile of fine, ripe apple fruit and again a citrus note. More tightly-wound and steely in style than the Vaillons. Good/very good.

Vocoret (Burgundy) Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 1999 £16.99. Buy 2 save £4 = £14.99
Pungent mineral streak on the nose. Intense, with notes of volcanic ash, stones and citrus. Gorgeous weight of zesty, clean lemon fruit on the palate with medium body, just a little hint of butter and crisp acidity. A very nicely-balanced wine. Very good indeed.

Geraud Thomas (Burgundy) St Aubin 1er Cru 1998 £9.99
Moderate fruit on the nose, notes of greengage and melon. Clean, though a light layering of oak. Quite savoury on the palate with a nutty, peachy quality. Good body, lots of racy orange and grapefruit acidity. Quite long. Good.

Baud (Loire) Vouvray 1999 £3.99
Light, sherbetty nose with some crisp apple fruit. Quite sweet on the palate - definitely off-dry - with grape and orangey fruit before some balancing acidity into the finish. Perhaps suffering after some good Burgundies, but only fair in my opinion.

Domaines Bourillon D'Orléans (Loire) Argilo 1998 £7.99. Buy 2 save £2 = £6.99
Nose of ash and woodsmoke, a little honey and apple fruit. Dry and medium-bodied, there are flavours of nectarine and juicy ripe fruit before plenty of acidity. Not as impressive as the previous vintage, but I suspect this bottle was a little off - maybe very slightly corked.

Bott-Geyl (Alsace) Riesling Grafenreben 1997 £9.99. reduced £8.99
Pungent mineral, salts and wax on the nose. Leafy, herbaceous notes. Quite rich on the palate, with only medium body but a silky texture. Crisp lemon and lime fruit and a streak of tingling lemon pith acidity. Good.

Bott-Geyl (Alsace) Gewurztraminer Schloesselreben VV 1998 £12.99. reduced £11.99
Succulent sweet peach and tropical fruit on the nose. Exotic nuances of lychee and candied yam. Quite sweet on the palate with a generous texture and lots of lush, ripe fruit against grapefruit acidity. There's a pleasantly smoky note that shows up in the long, well-balanced finish. This is very good indeed.

Durney Vineyards (California) Chardonnay 1991 £3.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £3.49
Well, this wasn't the best wine on show - but check the price for a bargain wine full of interest. Nine years old, the nose has a slightly vegetal character: notes of cabbage and candy. On the palate there is butter and stewed apples, then acidity kicks in. Interesting, enjoyable, for drinking up.

Fetzer (California) Viognier 1999 £7.99 reduced £6.99
Always reliable Viognier from Fetzer that has confected peach aromas with floral notes. Palate has plenty of body and refreshing acidity as well as clean, succulent fruit. Good.

Tatachilla (Australia) McLaren Vale Chardonnay 1999 £6.49. Buy 2 save £1 = £5.99
Quite a gentle butterscotch, apricot and amaretto nose. Good body with a lot of pure, bright peach fruit and a soft pillow of vanilla. Balanced and finishes long and pure. Good.

Tatachilla (Australia) McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 1999 £5.99. Buy 2 save £1 = £5.49
Subdued nose with lemony fruit and little pear-drop nuances, as well as a waxiness. Quite firm and fresh, there's a steeliness about this though no lack of fruit. Balanced. Good.

Bethany (Australia) Chardonnay 1999 £7.99. Buy 2 save £2 = £6.99
A nice density here of buttery, nutty apricot fruit and some vanilla-fudge oak. Ripe, full fruit on the palate, a nicely sour, mineral edge but then that lush, buttery peach fruit dominates in the finish. Good freshening acidity and a focused finish. Very good.

Capel Vale (Australia) Verdelho 1999, Western Australia £7.99. Buy 2 save £2 = £6.99
Nose of flowers, spice and exotic fruits. Rich, delicious palate with a suggestion of sweetness from very ripe fruit: like sweet melon and ripe asian pear before a slightly honeyed note leading into a balanced and fresh finish. Very good.

Oxford Landing (Australia) Limited Release Viognier 1999 £5.99
Quite a deep, lush, full-fruited nose of ripe peach and a little confectionery note. Juicy palate, with full body and a kick of lemony acidity. Good

Delegats (New Zealand) Reserve Chardonnay 1999 £8.99. Buy 2 save £3 = £7.49
Much more pronounced, charry, toffeed nose with brazil nut and rich peach fruit. Mouthfilling Chardonnay fruit, lots of smoke woven through peach and nectarine, a touch of pineapple then good, balanced acidity. Stylish and very good.

Jacobus (Germany) Trier Augenscheiner Kabinett 1990 £3.99
Majestic deserves high praise for continually unearthing parcels of fine, mature German Riesling at giveaway prices. This has a vividly high, petrolly, polish and acetone nose. There is good, quite full and generous off-dry fruit, little marzipan notes and good length. Good.

Jacobus (Germany) Bernkasteler Badstude Kabinett 1990 £3.99
Lovely developed wax, nettle and slate nose. Lots of ripe peach fruit with a tart raspberry edge and notes of green apple. There's a little sweetness on the palate, but it is quite long with good balance still, but needs drinking.

Christoffel-Berres (Germany) ürziger Würzgarten Kabinett 1997 £5.49
Intense whiff of sulphur blows off to reveal an intense minerality with smoke and wet stones, an ashy quality. Pure, sweet and youthfull fruit; light peach and pineapple with notes of sweet sherbet lemons and a fine streak of acidity. Long and lovely stuff, with only 7.5% alcohol. Very good.

Christoffel-Berres (Germany) ürziger Würzgarten Auslese 1992 £5.99
Warm nose of honey, apricot and fig. Quite full and lush with sweet, rich fruit flooding the palate. Lots of ripe nectarine and mango flavours but acidity is beautifully clean and freshens the long finish. Lovely mature riesling at a bargain price.

Muga (Spain) Blanco 1999 £6.99. Buy 6 save 20% = £5.99
Liquorice, cream and vanilla before quite surprisingly crisp and bright orchard fruit, edged with a nutty, herbal character. Good.


Piramimma (Australia) Late Harvest Riesling 1998 £5.99 (50cl)
Lots of luscious tropical fruit on the nose and palate. Notes of quince, sweet vanilla, marzipan and honey. Orange is the overriding fruit flavour - very marmalady - with lime fruit and acidity. Good, pure finish. Excellent.

The Pioneers (Australia) Raisined Muscat 2000 £4.49 (37cl) Buy 2 save £1 = £3.99
Light, grape and floral notes with some honey and lovely ripe pear notes. The palate is quite sweet and honeyed with a downy peach-skin flavour and some gentle nuttiness. Good

Penfolds (Australia) Botrytis Semillon 1998 £4.99 (37cl)
Gorgeous nose, laden with dark marmalade aromas. Very syrupy - like honey cough linctus. Palate is lifted with lemon and lime freshness and grapefruit acidity in the finish, but that dark weight of orange fruit persists. Delicious. Very good.

Part II - red and fortified wines