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Majestic Wines 11/00

Part II - dry and fortified 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 I - sparkling, sweet and white wines.


Rioja Berberana (Spain) 1998 £4.99 Buy 6 at £3.99
Rich earthiness on the nose with berries and vanilla and a little beefy, animal note. Nice fat fruit on the palate which is rich and tobacco tinged, with berries and nuances of tobacco. Good.

Arva Vitis (Spain) Tempranillo 1998, La Mancha £4.99 Buy 6 at £3.99
Less overt fruit on the nose and a rather dry, mean palate. A little dilute and acidic. Not good on this showing.

Bodegas Marco Real (Spain) Crianza Merlot, Navarra 1996 £5.49 Buy 6 at £4.39
Earth, beef, blood and sweet plummy fruit lead to a palate that is dry and oaky, though some dense plum and blackcurrant fruit emerges, though gripped by rather harsh tannins and acid.

Cellier de Capcanes (Spain) Mas Collet 1998 £5.99 Buy 6 at £4.79
Sweet stewed prune flavours mix with brighter, ripe blackcurrant notes. Nice mouthfeel, with plenty of juicy black fruit and fine, ripe tannins adding grip. Savoury, and with good length. Very good and fine value.

Cellier de Capcanes (Spain) Costers del Gravet 1998 £8.99 Buy 6 at £7.19
Much more minerality on the nose with a charry depth to black fruit that are ripe and minty. Lovely concentration here, this has depth of fine, bitter-edged fruits and tight, well-focused tannins and balanced acidity. Good length. Very good indeed.

Marqués de Riscal (Spain) Tempranillo 1999, Castilla y Len £6.99 Buy 6 at £5.59
A very sweet fudge note dominates a nose of ripe fruit. An "international style", with oak and plenty of blue/black, almost Port-like fruit and plummy depth. Very good.

Berberana (Spain) Rioja Reserva 1989 £9.99 Buy 6 at £7.99
Dank, leafy, tea, tobacco and vanilla on the nose. The fruit is soft with plum and caramel before some quite aggressive acidity just spikes the finish. Good.

Berberana (Spain) Rioja Gran Reserva 1978 £12.99 Buy 6 at £10.39
The sweet, slightly volatile nose is so typical of mature old Rioja. Notes of tea, red fruit, earth and leather. The medium-bodied palate is suffused with mellow fruit that is sweet and has a slightly rotting quality (pleasantly so) with berry and tobacco notes and soft acidity. Needs drinking, but a real treat.

Marqués de Riscal (Spain) Gran Reserva 1994 £19.99 Buy 6 at £15.99
Lots of structure and character here with a cherry brightness and a seam of black fruit overlayed with vanilla. Savoury on the palate with fine tannins and good length. Very good. Will age.

Miguel Merino (Spain) Rioja Reserva 1994 £22.99 Buy 6 at £18.39
First release from a new super-bodega, this is impressive with a serious, structured nose of crunchy black fruit, some leather, spice and just a little hint of fresh raspberry. The palate is very structured and grippy with tannins adding backbone to the firm-toned fruit. Balanced and should age very gracefully. Very good.

Gilles Roux (France) Beaujolais Villages Domaine de la Plaigne 1999 £5.99 new, Buy 2 at £5.49
Zippy, fresh, bubblegum and raspberry style. Fruit is fresh and quite sparky with bursting berry and spice flavours. Ends up in quite a serious style with some tannic bite. Good.

Jean Descombes (France) Morgon 1999 £7.49 reduced £6.99
Tighter blue/black fruit aromas with a sweet confectionery edge. Very dense and crunchy on the palate, a depth of fruit and decent balance, though only a moderate finish. Good.

Domaine des Duc (France) St Amour 1999 £7.49 new, Buy 2 at £6.99
Very gravelly, schisty, smoky nose. Real character. Fruit is solidly packed on the palate with sweet blueberry flavours and lots of grip, enlivened by some softer red fruit in the finish with plenty of depth. Very good indeed.

Aucoeur (France) Morgan Vielles Vignes Fts de Chne 1998 £7.49
Sweet blue/black fruits. Quite restrained and classy with a coolness about the fruit, lots of elegance anad structure. Very good.

Domaine de Richard (France) 1999, VdPays de L'Aude £2.99 reduced £2.79
Nice berry-fruited nose, lots of blackcurrant, redcurrant. Smooth, full palate with ripe but bittersweet fruit against a nice tannin and acid framework. Very good indeed and an absolute stand-out bargain.

La Closeraie (France) Faugères Abbaye de Sylva Plana 1999 £6.49 Buy 2 at £5.99
Smoky and schisty black fruits. Quite frim and tannic palate. Structured, with a plumskin roughness to black fruits. Concentrated and deep, this needs food but is very good.

Minervois Domaine des Aires (France) Hautes La Livinière 1998 £6.99 Buy 2 at £5.99
Another of those incerdibly dense, focused plum, blackcurrant and cassis wines of the south. Lots of bright, deep, glossy black fruits flavours, ripe and with good purity and length. Good/very good.

Château Coupe Féraud et Brunel Roses Les Plots 1999, Minervois £6.99
More of the same with perhaps a little more plummy depth and concentration and a longer finish showing good, pure black fruit flavours and good balance. Very good.

Féraud et Brunel (France) L'Image du Sud 1998 £12.99
Gaudy label, but a restrained style that is quite classy. The palate is serious and restrained too, with a complex, structured quality of fruits, tannin and acid, but I have a niggling doubt if it has the fruit to withstand the tannic onslaught. Potentially very good?

Domaine le Pigeonnier (France) Côtes du Rhône 1999 £4.99
A little dirty earthiness to berry fruit on the nose. Soft notes of strawberry and a hint of wet earth. Lovely ripe, sweet fruit and crunchy freshness. A little chocolaty richness in finish. Easy drinking and good.

Château D'Aquéria (France) Lirac Les Esperelles 1998 £6.49 Buy 2 at £5.99
Quite tight on the nose, quite reserved with firm, liquoricy fruit and a gripping tannic edge. This seems to have a lot of structure and if it softens with a few years in bottle will be very good.

Cave de Tain l'Hermitage (France) Cornas 1997 £9.99 reduced £9.49
Sweet, slightly baked qualty on the nose with jammy fruit and a darkly-hued quality. Firm and savoury on the palate with spice and pepper as well as firm, juicy blackcurrant fruit. A serious style. Good.

Guigal (France) Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 1997 £19.99 new Intro offer, will be £21.99
Smoke, charcoal and pepper on the nose over a core of minerality. Lots of that mineral, gravelly quality on the palate with a core of sweet, rich black fruit. This has considerable depth and lots of concentration. Good balance, though needs time still. Fine and very good.

Clos Lormenat (France) 1997, Bordeaux Supérieur £5.99 new, Buy 2 at £5.49
Dank, weedy notes before good fruit emerges. Palate is grippy, with decent quality of fruit and a fleshy mouthfeel, though finishes a little dry and lean.

Chateau Robin (France) 1997 £7.99 new, Intro offer, will be £8.99
Smoky charred oak layered over good black fruit. Quite round and plummy on the palate, though still good structure and balance. Good.

Château Morin (France) 1997, St-Estèphe £9.99 reduced £8.99
This has a nicely defined nose with fruit and a cedary quality, though the palate is a little light on fruit and a touch dry. Decent claret, though seems a bit non-descript at the price.

Château La Vieille Croix (France) 1997, Fronsac £11.99 reduced 9.99
More new coffee and spice oak over sweeter, richer fruit. Palate is cool with a mintiness to the blackcurrant fruit and a good, spicy bite in the finish of oak tannins and acid. Good.

Moulin de la Lagune (France) 1998, Haut-Médoc £10.99 reduced £9.99
Some claret notes of cedar wood and smoke over leafy cabernet fruit, with a little weedy edge. Palate is quite grippy, fruit is good if a little flat in the mid-palate. Good.

Château Gontey (France) 1998, St-émilion Grand Cru £12.99 new, Intro offer, will be £13.99
Round, rich, berries and cream nose with some plum and soft, summer-pudding character. Lush and juicy on the palate with plenty of cool, classy fruit and just a hint of vanillin oak. Good length, and a nice wine.

Chateau La Grave Figeac (France) 1997 St-Emilion £16.99 reduced £14.99
Another classic claret nose with plenty of pencil-shaving, cedar and blackcurrant as well as softer, plummy depth. Palate is again a little flatter in the mid-palate than I'd hope for, but it is smoothly textured with fine tannins and good acidity giving a clean, long finish. Good/very good.

Banfi (Italy) Col di Sasso 1998, IGT Toscana £4.79 Buy 2 at £3.99
Rich, sweet berry and cherry fruit on the nose, little notes of soft brown sugar. Firm, tight and juicy palate. Good fruit and structure at the price. Good.

Antinori (Italy) Santa Christina 1999 £5.99 Buy 2 save at £4.99
This has a real ripeness of cherry, vanilla and milky coffee. Sweet, focused fruit on the palate. Very classy with medium body, balance and structure. Very good.

Tedeschi (Italy) Valpolicella Classico dei Nicalo 1997 £5.99 Buy 2 at £5.49
This is bright and fragrant with cherry, flowers and liquorice. The palate is fresh, with highish acidity, but good depth of rounded berry fruit. Good.

Prunotto (Italy) Barbera d'Asti Alfredo 1999 £5.99 Buy 2 at £4.99
Sweet vanilla, summer berry fruit and lots of soft, inviting strawberry. Rich and smoky flavours in the mouth with good fruit and gentle acidity. Stylish and drinking well. Good/very good.

Prunotto (Italy) Nebbiolo d'Alba Occhetti Vineyard 1998 £8.99 new, Intro offer, will be £9.99
Rich, tightly-wound nose of blue/black fruits. Very liquoricy and dense there's a subtle smokiness too. The palate has a huge peppery streak to vivid blueberry fruit then biting tannins that suggest this needs time - 5 - 8 years.

Falchini (Italy) Paretaio 1997 £9.99
Rich, sweet oak over soft mulberry and earth, a very autumnal quality. Lots of good quality ripe, sweet fruit and a nice tartness of red cherry. Chewy, with good length. Very good.

Tedeschi (Italy) Rosso della Fabriseria 1998 £11.99
Lots of smoky, charry oak with a creamy foundation to blackcurrant and raspberry fruit. This has plenty of juicy, mouthwatering character and a lovely quality of ripe fruit married to creamy vanilla and woodsmoke into a long finish. Very good indeed.

Montes (Chile) Limited Selection Cabernet/Carmenère 1999 £6.49 new, Intro offer, will be £6.99
Really crunchy, bright flashy ripeness on the nose. Terrific fruit. There's a pure blue/black fruit quality on the palate with distinct pepper and spice notes and a little touch of violet. Rich, dense and attractive it stays pure and focused into the finish. Very good.

Montes (Chile) Limited Selection Pinot Noir 1999 £6.99
Sweet and jammy style of Pinot, lots of woodsmoke and creamy vanilla with a palate of soft berries. Dry and nicely balanced, though not terribly complex. Good.

Beringer (California) Valdeguie 1998 £6.49 Buy 2 at £5.49
Caramel, and a slightly foxy earthiness on the nose. Palate is cool and clean, with a spicy edge to crisp blackberry and raspberry fruit. Good.

Oxford Landing (Australia) Limited Release Shiraz 1998 £6.49
A stewed, pruney quality before a seam of pure, glossy black fruit. Quite creamy on the palate, dense and rich with silky tannins. Maybe lacks a little follow-through on the fruit, the palate dying slightly, but very good.

Tatachilla (Australia) McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz 1999 £7.49 Buy 2 at £6.99
Sweet and slightly confected fruit on the nose, with some creamy vanilla softening the picture. Plenty of power in the fruit on the palate. Good/very good.

Tatachilla (Australia) McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 £8.99 reduced £8.49
Bright, crunchy, dense blackcurrant and cassis, a little minty edge. Solidly packed with pure black fruit flavours. Nicely balanced. Good length.

Tatachilla (Australia) Foundation Shiraz 1998 £15.95
Big blockbuster nose with bags of mint, eucalyptus, mulberry, plum and nuances of spice, vanilla and herbs. The palate is rich and fleshy with a raft of solid, smoky fruit and oak backed up with fine tannins and modest acidity. Very impressive.

Bethany (Australia) Grenache 1999, Barossa Valley £6.49 Buy 2 at £5.99
Bright, focused, crunchily aromatic fruit on the nose with suggestions of pepper, mulled spices and sweet cassis, berries and a very ripe character. Medium to full-bodied, there's a real creaminess to the texture and plenty of sweet, juicy berry fruit and a little tart red cherry note. Nicely balanced, this is a generous and approachable wine. Very good indeed.

Delegat's (New Zealand) Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 £8.99 Buy 2 at £7.99
Big powerhouse nose. Crunchy, juicy blackcurrant, a little leafy mint. Solid fruit on the palate. Good structure, with savoury black fruit and a real sense of concentration and richness. Long, with a purity of fruit. Very good indeed.

Delegats (New Zealand) Reserve Merlot 1998 £8.99 Buy 2 at £7.99
Slightly dank, but a decent quality of berry and damson fruit. Becomes creamier and brighter on the palate, with better quality showing through. Good balance. Good.

Wither Hills Pinot Noir 1999 £11.99
This is distinctly smoky, with vegetal fruit and notes of tobacco and soft, strawberry fruit. On the palate it is a touch hollow, though charry oak precedes some decent fruit. Not quite together, but may improve. Quite good on this showing.


Blandy's 1994 Harvest Malmsey Madeira £9.99 Intro offer, will be £11.99
Sweet brown sugar notes, quite syrupy. Nuances of nuts, raisins and rum-soaked sultanas. Palate has more of the same with a definite orangy fruit and gentle citrus acidity into the finish. Good.

Dow's Quinta do Bomfim Port 1986 £19.99 Buy 2 at £16.99
Cream, raspberry, blueberry and sweet violet notes. Little hints of leaf tea and tobacco. Lovely sweetness on the palate, but also plenty of grip and acidity. Good, though maybe lacks a little weight in the fruit. Still good/very good.

Taylors Quinta de Terra Feita Port 1986 £17.99 reduced £15.99
Soft, sweet nose of brown sugar and spiced mulberries, notes of clove and mulled wine and a tiny floral note. Gorgeously ripe palate which has plenty of fruit and maintains beautiful balance with fine tannins and gentle acidity. Drinking beautifully for Christmas.

Part I - sparkling, sweet and white wines