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Majestic Wines 05/01

by Tom Cannavan

Part I - 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. Sixty white and sweet wines are tasted below, and all promotional prices are valid until 3rd September 2001.

See also part II - 40 red wines.

Sweet

1998 Bockenheimer Grafenstück BA 37.5cl £3.99 down 50p
Nicely honeyed, figgy nose, lots of botrytis. No edges to this downy, peach-fruited, blossomy wine. On the palate sweet, gentle and with well balanced acidity. Quite simple, but really rather good.

1997 Bott-Geyl Tokay Pinot Gris Sonnenglanz VT 50cl £15.99 down £2
This has a powerful and lovely perfume on the nose, and is loaded with sweet, peachy fruit on the palate with orange and grapefruit and a hint of nuttiness. Quite rich, and quite long. Very good.

1997 Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Sonnenglanz VT 50cl £16.99 down £2
Powerful nose with notes of apricot kernel and nutty aromas, a honeyed edge too, very alluring. Palate is richly honeyed with figs and lush peach skin and sweet lychee notes. Syrupy textured richness and very long and delicious. Excellent, should age well.

Whites

2000 Muscadet Sur Lie Château La Touche £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
This is a good Muscadet, fresh and peary on the nose, lots of lemon and a grassy edge. Palate is crisp, but acidity is quite broad and it is not without richness into a decent finish. Good/very good.

2000 Reuilly Henri Beurdin £6.49 Buy 2 save £1
Fresh and very appealing with a certain sweetness on the nose and loaded with crunchy pear, apple and nettles. Good body to this wine, tangy citrus acidity balances and it finishes quite long and pure. Good.

2000 Quincy Blanc Jean-Charles Borgnat £6.49 Buy 2 save £1
Very grassy, nettly nose with herbs and some cool confectionery notes. Lots of cool, quite elegant fruit on the palate, pears and pear drops. Maybe a little too young to fully assess - still tanky and confected.

2000 Sancerre Chavignol Paul Thomas £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
Some real character peaks through confected aromas; gooseberry and nettle freshness. Palate is flooded with ripe fruit, nice silky texture and taut acidity in the finish. Needs time to settle down, but very good.

2000 Sancerre Domaine Laloue £8.49
Crisp and aromatic citrus fruit and floral notes. Palate is a little dull at present: steely, mineral acidity clamps down on other components, but should come round.

2000 Sancerre La Guiberte Alain Gueneau £8.99
Again a purity of pear and apple fruit that is fresh and enlivened by citrus. Very nice quality of fruit on the palate, staying focused and pure into a decent finish. Very good.

2000 Sancerre Les Boucauds Claude Riffault £8.99
Tropical and ripe, with punchy grapefruit and peach-skin aromas and good fruit on the palate. Very good.

1998 Sancerre Vieilles Vignes Domaine Fournier £9.49
Wonderfully urgent, fruity nose. Really crunchy, but with plenty of greengage savouriness and schisty, gravelly character. Fine herbal nuances. Lovely sweet fruit on the palate that is tropical and rich, bolstered by an almost oily texture and fine length. Excellent.

2000 Sancerre Domaine Vacheron £9.99 Down from £10.99
Tropical, very fresh boiled-sweet and peach character. Bright and very young, with unctuous undertones of pineapple in syrup. Sweet, super-rich fruit on the palate that is quite full and round, with keen grapefruit and orange acidity freshening the finish. Very good.

2000 Pouilly-Fumé Domaine Pabiot £6.99
Very reticent indeed on the nose, and the palate is steely, dry and citrussy. A bit too tight to be giving much impression of what it's about.

2000 Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine des Rabichattes Grebet Père et Fils £8.99
Subtle mineral nuances with a certain smokiness to this, hints of apricot and citrus. Palate is quite rich and although there's a steely core, the fruit is all there. Excellent length and balance. Very good.

1999 Vouvray Demi-Sec Dom. Bourillon D'Orléans £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
I've enjoyed this in previous vintages, and again a tantalising blend of sweet-edged, floral, almost icing-sugar aromas and mandarin orange fruit. On the palate it is off-dry and full-bodied with unctuous tangerine fruit, grape and apple acidity. A semi-sweet and crowd-pleasing summer style. Very good.

2000 Lugana La Carega Sartori £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Herbal and nutty, with peach kernel nuances and a honeyed edge. Palate is slightly disappointing after that intriguing nose, with decent fruit but rather neutral. Balanced, but not terribly distinctive.

2000 Soave Classico Superiore Coffele £6.49 Buy 2 save £1
Terrifically spicy nose, with suggestions of cinnamon and clove and ripe white fruits. Really quite exotic, with a restrained, elegant perfume. Good body and plenty of crunching citrus fruit and acidity on the fresh, appetising palate. Good.

2000 Pinot Bianco DOC Alto Adige, Alois Lageder £6.99 Buy 2 save £1
Quite pungent, aromatic fruit here, suggestion of really sweet peach. Weighty palate, with ripe fruity flavours, quite powerful, with hints of nutty complexity and good length. Good.

2000 Pinot Grigio Toscana Banfi £6.99 Buy 2 save £1
Sweet, cool, classy pear-drop aromas and hints of tropical richness with little floral nuances. There's a rich, dense peachy fruitiness on the palate and it is quite spicy in the finish. Lovely stuff. Very good.

2000 Gavi di Gavi Late Picked Villa Lanata £8.49 Buy 2 save £3
Another old favourite from previous vintages, though not yet displaying the honeyed edge to its herbal and mineral, salty nose. Palate has hints something lush and figgy beneath crisp lemony fruit, but still quite long, stylish and good.

NV Cuvée de Richard Blanc Vin de Table Français £2.79
The red version of this was a stand-out bargain, and this is equally irrestistible at a silly price. Lightly floral pear-drop and light, apple and pear aromas joined on the palate by zippy citrus acidity and lots of crunchy flavour. They've done well with the humble Ugni Blanc grape here. Good.

2000 Sauvignon Les Chapelières Vin de Pays d'Oc £4.29 Buy 2 save £1
Pungent gooseberry and asparagus notes, lots of sweet tropicality. Palate is slightly raw, with rather coarse acidity, though plenty of fruit powering through and good length. I have a feeling that with the right food this would merit a very good rating, but it needs that food.

2000 Ducourneau VdP des Côtes de Gascogne £3.99 Buy 2 save £1
Really gorgeous, ripe, fresh mandarin orange and peach with exotic notes of guava and mango. Very fresh. Palate has some crunch, with apple and orange acidity beneath that sweet fruit. A lovely sense of quality, and a little star at the price. Very good indeed.

1999 Chardonnay Laroche Grande Cuvée 'L' £5.49 Buy 2 save £2
Has that nutty, whiskey-barrel, brazil nut layering of oak over sweet, thick fruit. Powerful palate, where a background of toastiness frames lemon fruit and plenty of spice in the finish. Large-scaled and lots of character. Good.

1999 St-Véran Les Deux Moulins Louis Latour £7.99 Buy 2 save £3
A little sulphury? There's a very restrained almond nose, not much fruit. Palate is lacking fruit too, with insipid mouthfeel, and none of that honeysuckle, lemony richness that this appellation should offer. Poor/moderate.

1999 Auxey-Duresses Blanc Louis Latour £11.99 Buy 2 save £4
Grubby, dirty, old-barrel stink. Palate is thin and pretty horrible. Dreadful, flat old-fashioned wine.

Sorry Majestic, but the two wines above are a disgrace at the price. Latour should be ashamed of that Auxey, and surely you could find better southern Burgundy whites at the money? Latour can hit fantastic heights with their top wines, but these are just dreadful.

1998 Meursault 1er Cru Château de Blagny Louis Latour £19.99 Buy 2 save £6
Quite a powerful nose; nutty with notes of cream, butter and orchard fruits. The palate has good fruit that is quite sweet and ripe, though maintaining a cool profile. Plenty of lemony acidity giving a nice edge to a reasonably long finish. Better. Good/Very good.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet Fontaine-Gagnard £19.99
(N.B. 15% off any 2 bottles of Fontaine-Gagnard white wines)
Much more sweetness about the nose, lightly honeyed with vanilla and hints of toasted brioche. Lovely quality of fruit on the palate, that has a definite ripe edge to basically straightforward, fresh, mouthwatering citrus. Good length, quite savoury and though not terribly complex, rather good.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Maltroie Fontaine-Gagnard £22.29
A little more toast, richness and honey over peach and white fruits. Very attractive. Palate is filled with fruit that is really punchy and concentrated. Bags of lemony acidity and a hint of mineral steeliness at the core. Long and very good.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Boudriotte Fontaine-Gagnard £22.29
Lots of honey, gentle spice, a little toastiness. The palate is more subdued, with a nutty, peach kernel richness and dryness, quite subtle citrus fruit leading to a long, smooth, almond-paste finish. Well-balanced. A little more complexity on offer here; very good.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Grande Montagne Fontaine-Gagnard £22.29
Richer, more toasty with again a real ripeness of fruit and beneath a fine, ground nut quality and certain butteriness. Fine palate, with lots of grapefruity acidity giving a keen edge to sweet apricot fruit. Plenty of backbone and a core of minerality, lovely integration of components already and possibly the best of the three premier crus on show. Very good.

1998 Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru Fontaine-Gagnard £49.99
Nose reeks of pungent, powerful super-ripe and concentrated fruit, with a slightly herbaceous, vegetal, green-bean character, then yeast, flint and minerals. Fantastically sweet fruited palate, very unctuous and thick, honeyed fruit but all focused by racy acidity and fine concentration. A 10-year wine of power and length. Excellent.

2000 Rioja Blanco Muga £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Pungent, herbaceous nose, notes of overripe melon. The palate is cool and quite classy, just a creaminess from barrel fermentation and good punchy fruit. Good.

2000 Lindemans Cawarra Semillon Chardonnay £3.99 Buy 2 save £2
Herbal, nutty, buttery peach nose, though not overblown. Decent fruit on the palate, quite a thick texture and very quaffable. Good.

2000 Coldridge Estate Chardonnay £3.49
Very understated nose with reasonable spiciness and some soft, downy fruit. Soft fruit profile on the palate too, but a bit unexciting.

1999 Ironstone Semillon Chardonnay £6.49 Buy 2 save £2
Succulent nose of guava fruit; very rich and ripe. This has some real concentration and power, with lychee and pineapple sweetness, just a hint of waxiness and plenty of pungent herbal fruit. Very good indeed.

2000 Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier £5.99
Nice one, Oxford landing! The talented Louisa Rose makes this wine and is passionate about this most fashionable of grape varieties. Whilst many Viogniers are overblown, this has a classic peach and pear nose and is not too hot and alcoholic on the palate (13.5%) but has full body and lots of aromatic richness. Really rather good.

1999 Tatachilla McLaren Vale Sauvignon Semillon £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Herbs, gooseberry and citrus fruit precede a crisp grassy nose with waxy overtones. Chewy, bright, forward fruit on the palate and finishes with cleansing, pithy acidity. Very good.

2000 Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon £9.49
A bit tanky (an almost acetone sweetie/candy character) but aromatic and a good quality of rasping, leafy, herbal and gooseberry aromas push through. Lots of style on the palate, plenty of body and a hint of buttery texture and quite long. Very good indeed.

2000 Tatachilla 'Breakneck Creek' Chardonnay £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Rounded, lightly-honeyed fruit. Palate is cool and has a bit of class. A good, simple glugger.

2000 Tatachilla Chardonnay McLaren Vale £6.49 Buy 2 save £1
Toffee, butter and sweet peach with a custardy overlay. The palate is tropical and plump, but it stays compact and well-balanced by apple and citrus acidity despite a hint of hot alcoholic excess in the finish. Good.

2000 Kangarilla Road Chardonnay McLaren Vale £7.99
Bags of toast and charry new oak over crisp citrus fruit. Very clean on the palate and medium-bodied, maybe even a touch thin, but a lovely sweetness and purity of fruit and quite elegant. Good.

2000 Bethany Riesling Barossa Valley £5.49 Buy 2 save £1
Riesling in the mineral spectrum, with a light floral character and sherbetty nose. Very young and needs time to gain a little weight and allow the lurking lime fruit to emerge. Potentially very good.

2000 Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling £5.99 Buy 2 save £2
More obvious typical lime aromatics here with a tight mineral core and plenty of bright, zingy fruit. Lovely sweetness in the mouth, hints of grassiness and really sweet fruit. Simple, but very attractive. Good/very good.

1999 Delegats Reserve Chardonnay £8.99 Buy 2 save £3
Classy stuff as always, with bags of fine, bright and punchy fruit, just a certain creamy mellowness of toasty, nutty oak. Delightful mouthful of fruit with good balance and a long, fruity, pure finish. Very good indeed.

2000 Vistasur Sauvignon £4.79 Buy 2 save £1
I interviewed winemaker Eugenia Díaz recently and this was one of her stand-out wines. Tropical style, with lots of limpid, sweet fruity aromas of pineapple, melon and guava and tons of fruit on the palate before nice acidity to balance. One of the best of the inexpensive Chilean Sauvignons.

2000 Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon £6.49 Buy 2 save £1
There's something mealy about the nose here (wonder if it is barrel fermented?) and very good, rich fruit. There's a big punch of acidity in the finish that grips straightforward citrussy fruit, but perhaps it lacks just a little flesh. Good.

1999 Alamos Chardonnay Catena £5.99 Buy 2 save £2
Big whiskey-barrel, toasted oaky nose with butterscotch richness of tropical fruit. The picture is constrained and freshened by fine acidity and there's a silky texture. Classy and good value. Very good.

1998 Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay £6.99. Buy 2 save £2
You'd need to like prominent oak in your Chardonnay, as this is loaded with toast, smoke and vanilla over ripe apricot and nectarine fruit. There is a more crisp pear and melon too, but it's pretty flamboyant stuff. The palate has lots of fruit and is very classy, with a satisfyingly rich, chewy mouthfeel, hints of vegetal, Burgundian quality and good length. Pretty damn good at the £5.99 a bottle price.

The following Alsace wines didn't show very well. Majestic had only managed to secure one bottle of each for this all-day tasting, and by the time I tasted early afternoon the wines were at a balmy room temperature whereas others round about had been refreshed.

1998 Bott-Geyl Riesling Grafenreben £8.99 Down £1
A bit dull and lifeless. Rather warm, but non-descript and flabby. Too hot to judge.

1999 Bott-Geyl Tokay Pinot Gris £8.99 Down £1

1999 Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Béblenheim £8.99 Down £1

1999 Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Sonnenglanz VV £13.99 Down £1

1992 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett State Domaine Trier £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Lots of waxy, herbal qualities here and a minerality that shines through with nicely sour Granny Smith apple fruit on the nose. Green apple fruit on the palate too, a little hint of ripe nectarine and good balance into an off-dry pleasant finish. Good.

1993 Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese Christoffel-Berres £4.99
It is kind of mind-blowing that Majestic (who deserve a medal for their efforts to bring inexpensive, fine German Rieslings to our shores) can sell an eight-year old Riesling from the famous "spice garden" vineyard for under a fiver. This adds more toast and honey on the nose over a waxy lime fruit and nutty character. The palate is quite sweet with a nicely herbal quality to sweet peach fruit and good apple acidity. Fine stuff, that is mature and drinking well - what a treat for a summer in the garden. Very good.

1998 Mehringer Zellerberg Auslese Dahmen-Kuhnen £5.99
Buy 2 save £1

The nose on this is a little dull, with some sherbetty nuances. The palate is rather simple, with again a sherbetty sweetness and not the same class as the previous wine.

1989 Waldracher Krone Auslese Peter Scherf £5.99
Eleven year old Riesling for six quid, and what a nice wine. Toffeed, tight, sweet lime, honey and floral aromatics. Thick, juicy palate with succulent sweet fruit, like nectarine juice. Lovely balance, with good apple acidity and fine length. Not fantastically complex, but just a wonderful buy.

See also part II - 40 red wines