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Majestic Wines 05/01

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. Forty red and rosé wines are tasted below, and all promotional prices are valid until 3rd September 2001.

Go to part I - 60 sweet and white wines.

Rosé and Red

2000 Le Fauve Rosé de Syrah VdP d'Oc £3.99 Buy 2 save £1
Sweet, rather confected raspberry fruit on nose and palate. Very simple quaffing stuff, but quite nice.

2000 Château Guiot Costières de Nimes Rosé £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
A more delicate, perfumed, raspberry and soft strawberry fruit nose with a little hint of earthiness. Fresh acidity really punches through on the palate. Good.

2000 Sancerre Rosé La Guiberte £9.99
Very delicate colour for this Pinot Noir saignée wine (short skin contact at start of fermentation to extract a little colour, tannin and flavour). It has a light, herbal, nettly nose that is strangely Sauvignon Blanc-like, before a modestly fruity and punchy palate. A bit of an oddity, more interesting than genuinely good value I think.

1999 Beaujolais Villages Duboeuf £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
Creamy, dense berry and strawberry fruit, hints of blackberry depth. Palate is reasonably sweet and has lots of crunch and zip to the fruit. Quite simple, but fresh and drinking nicely. Good.

2000 Brouilly Flower Label Duboeuf £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Much darker and more serious, this has a bramble and black fruit nose. A stripe of tannins grips the palate over inky fruit, lightened by a little berry ripeness. Dry, savoury and serious stuff. Good/very good.

2000 Morgon Jean Descombes Duboeuf £7.49 Buy 2 save £1
More confected at first on nose, then a lovely savoury, briary, charcoally quality pushes through. There's good earthy red berry fruit and a very nice mouthfeel with big, dry, classy tannins and five-year plus structure. Very good.

1999 Fleurie Château du Grand Pré, Duboeuf £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
Again, quite a serious, rich, charry nose suggesting gravel and schist, but rounded by a good quality of ripe fruit, hinting at earthy undergrowth. Nice silky texture and solid fruit on the palate, good length and nice fresh acidity in the finish. Very good.

1999 Chinon les Garous Couly-Dutheil £5.49 Buy 2 save £1
Aromas of creamy blackcurrant are sweet and jammy, with plenty of ripeness and weight. A dry palate, maybe just lacking that extra ounce of fruit that would really follow through on the nose, but still drinking well and nicely balanced. Good.

1998 Sancerre Rouge Domaine Fournier £8.99
Crunchy, brambly fruit with a leafy edge suggesting nettles. Some tart cherry and savoury black fruits, but rather severe acidity and grippy tannin. Needs food.

1999 Sancerre Rouge Laloue £9.99
Much more concentration and gravely depth. Good fruit here, which is savoury and earthy with a truffly, herbal, bittersweet quality but a core of tight black fruit at the core. A little rounding out of toasty sweet oak adds breadth to the finish. Good/very good.

1999 Pinot Noir Béblenheim Bott-Geyl £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
Seems rather flat and lifeless, not enough punch, and not enough texture on the palate or sweetness of fruit. Not showing very well.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet Fontaine-Gagnard £10.99
Masses of richness here, with ripe fruit married to toasty, full oak. Quite jammy and ripe, almost New Worldy nose. Palate adds much more grippy tannin into the picture which gives structure, but still driven by bold, ripe fruit. Very good.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet Badeur-Mimeur £10.99
The nose has lots of ripe, full, berry and sweet cherry fruit, but it is extraordinarily dry and inky on the palate; gripped by tannins and furring the mouth. Good concentration and a no holds barred style. No lack of substance here and potentially very good indeed.

1999 Chassagne-Montrachet Blain-Gagnard £10.99
Tight, focused glossy black fruit and a schisty, mineral note. Nice quality of fruit here I must say. Forward on the palate, though tightly focused black fruit again and a nice expansive sweetness before a plummy depth emerges. well balanced and very good indeed.

What a surprise to find three such respectable red Chassagnes!

2000 Domaine de Richard, VdP de L'Aude £2.79
Domaine de Richard produced a sensational 1999 that I (and just about every other wine writer who tasted it) raved about on value for money terms. At this stage this doesn't quite have the depth and quality of the previous vintage, but still your £2.79 buys a lovely quality of fruit with plenty of succulent berry aromas and a well-balanced palate that is soft and yielding yet with enough spicy stuffing too. Good.

1998 Château Pech Redon La Clape Coteaux du Languedoc £6.99
Juicy fruits on the nose, stacked with ripe berries and some deeper, chocolaty notes. Super sweet ripeness here, with a great density of blue/black, mulberry fruit. The palate is firm, with fine tannins and lots of liquoricy grip. Good fruit right through to the finish, rich and supple and very long. Very good indeed.

1999 Côtes du Rhône Sablet Château du Trignon £6.99
Fine syrah nose that is gravely and charcoally, notes of pepper and spice and a core of mineral firmness. Again there is a very good quality of fruit here, with a spicy, oaky wrapping around blackcurrant and pepper. Long, powerful and very good.

1999 Gigondas Château du Trignon £9.49
Fine peppery, charcoally fruit again. Solid and structured, with a density of fruit and earthy nuances. Plenty of grip on the palate and quite high acidity, with powerful, muscular fruit and tight tannins giving structure. Long, and finishes with lots of power. Needs a year or two to soften, but very good.

1997 St-Joseph Domaine de Rochevine £8.99
There's a herbal, woody, slightly vegetal note over a deep seam of pepper and some black fruit. It tastes just a little tired on the palate, a bit of nutty quality and drying slightly.

NV Plan Pégau Domaine du Pégau £6.99
Terrifically tasty and inviting stuff, with lots of sweetness of fruit evident on the nose, a violet note and blue/black fruit. Massive dry tannins coat the palate, almost coal dust dryness, with chunky fruit and a meaty, serious profile. Powerful and dense into the finish, this is very good.

1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos St Marc £9.99
Grenache-dominated distinctly peanutty nose, little hints of herbs, strawberry and raspberry fruit. Seems slightly thin on the palate, with highish alcohol and drying tannins. Doesn't do it for me.

1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Dom. de Ferrand £22.99
Sweet and ripe, quite jammy fruit on the nose, then earthiness and some deep plum, cherry and beefy notes. Palate is shocked by massive tannins at present, but the quality of sweet, creamy blackcurrant fruit is obvious. It has a muscular, chunky quality and plenty of depth. This hints at fine, fine quality, solid structure and will improve over 10 - 15, maybe 20 years.

2000 Sangiovese di Pasqua IGT Pasqua £2.99
Pasqua do a light, refreshing Chardonnay at this same low price that I've enjoyed in the past. This has a light cream and cherry-fruited nose. The palate has modest fruit, but is well-balanced, with juicy acidity, some tannins and a cherryish quality. This would make a fine glugging wine for pasta or pizza.

1999 Col di Sasso Banfi IGT Toscana £4.99 Buy 2 save £1 = £4.49
Jammy, sweet, blackcurranty nose that is ripe and lush. There's a nice zing of acidity running through the palate, very cherryish but there's a dark, more dusty black fruit too. Good mouthfeel and nice balance giving good length. Very good - a 50/50 Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend..

1998 Cabernet Sauvignon del Montello Gasparini £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
Decent black fruit on the nose, but fairly straightforward. The palate is pleasant enough, but a bit lifeless. Not bad.

1999 Sangiovese/Syrah Accademia del Sole Calatrasi . £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
70% Sangiovese is blended, super Tuscan-style, with interloping Syrah in this Sicilian red. Australian winemaking influence is evident in very ripe, minty, glossy black fruit on the nose and on the palate it has depth and density of fruit, with good tannin, quite fat acidity and decent length. Good/very good.

1997 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso de Ettore Rignetti. £7.49
Ripasso wines are often quite distinctive, due to the fact that some dried grapes are included in the fermentation process. This has slightly tart, cherry fruit on the nose and tight-grained leafy nuances, but there's no shortage of concentrated ripe fruit too. On the palate it is medium-bodied and quite savoury in style, with a spine of acidity cutting through very full, powerful fruit. This is structured and quite a chewy mouthful of wine, that has a slightly baked quality to the fruit, but not unpleasantly so. Very good.

1998 Chianti Classico Banfi £7.99 Buy 2 save £3 = £6.49
Lots of creamy, ripe fruit here that's much more direct and lush, plenty of blackcurrant and black cherry, hints of chocolate and rich, sweet plum. Lovely drinking too, with graceful tannins and good fruit. Very easy to drink, but classy. Very good.

1997 Rosso de Montalcino Banfi £9.99 Buy 2 save £5
Overripe, sweet, jammy almost confected lushness of fruit. Impressive. Big dry tannins coat the mouth, then a cherry fruit and cherry acidity kicks through, little nuances of herbs, game and tobacco. A bit disjointed at present, but plenty to it, and could improve over a few years. Good/very good.

1995 Le Bahans du Château Haut-Brion £29.99
What a good wine, and relatively well priced. very classy nose, displaying lots of cedary, pencil-shavings quality, toastiness and really fine fruit. Rich and concentrated, it has lovely focus on the palate with fine, silky tannins and layers of red and black berry fruits over a mineral backbone. Good length, and a real star. Excellent.

1999 Delegats Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon £8.99 Buy 2 save £3
Nice herbal edge to the sweet, ripe, mentholly black fruit of this New Zealand favourite. Concentrated fruit on the palate to, which is full and ripe in a medium-bodied format, with a good balance of tannins and gentle acidity. Classy and very good.

2000 Vistasur Merlot £4.79 Buy 2 save £1
Another good showing from Chile's Vistasur, with plenty of juicy black plum and blackcurrant fruit that is svelte and refined. Quite good structure on the palate, with good acidity and some background tannin over firm cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Good.

1999 Vistasur Cabernet £4.79 Buy 2 save £1
I prefer this, with its crisp, appealing blackcurrant and cherry nose and palate that shows a savoury richness of black fruit with hints of nutmeg and dark, plummy notes. Good, supple tannic backbone and a classy finish. Good/very good.

1999 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon £6.49 Buy 2 save £2
This offers a lot at the £5.49 price, with spice-edged blackcurrant fruit and plenty of tobacco and spice. Some serious tannins give grip, but the chunky black fruit and chocolaty depth fill the mouth. Sweet, round and plump wine with a bit of classy elegance. Very good.

Go to part I - 60 sweet and white wines.