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Majestic Wines 05/02

by Tom Cannavan

Part I - 60 sparkling, white and rosé wines


This was a press 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 an excellent web 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.

58 sparkling, white and rosé wines are tasted below, and all promotional prices are valid until 2nd September 2002.

See also part II - 70+ red and fortified wines.

I have not scored these wines as such, but have a formalised system of seven gradings, from Poor to Oustanding. I guess if this was a 100-point scale, you could think of it as follows: (very approximately)

Outstanding = 96-100
Excellent = 92-95
Very good indeed = 88-91
Very good = 84-87
Good = 80-84
Moderate = 75-79
Poor = less than 75

Sparkling

Buenos Aires (Argentina) Brut NV £4.99, Buy 6 @ £3.99
Quite coarse, but persistent bubbles, with a very nice, fresh nose with lots of creamy, apple aromas and a little toastiness on a broad, juicy, base. Lovely mouthful of just off-dry, peach and pear fruit with a rolling, soft mousse. Really quite delicious and easy to drink. Great buy at £3.99 and only 12% alcohol. Very good.

Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (Italy) Prosecco Extra Dry £6.99 Buy 2 @ £5.59
Steady stream of moderately small bubbles. Crisp, lemon-sherbetty nose with a little pear-drop and sour plum. Zippy, fresh and crisp palate lots of crunchy apple fruit. A very crisp style, but vibrant and enjoyable. Good/very good.

Heidsieck Brut Champagne NV £16.49 Buy 3 @ £10.99
Plenty of small, steady bubbles. A touch of nettles and crisp asian pear and melon, just a background of yeastiness. Quite explosive, juicy fruit on the palate; star-fruit and peach, with a moderate mousse and a fresh, citrussy finish. Very good.

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne NV £17.99 Buy 3 @ £11.99
Deeper gold colour, with a steady stream of small bubbles. Herby, nutty nose that is quite refined, with a suggestion of toastiness. Very fresh palate; zippy with a suggestion of custard and apples, savoury, peachy fruit and decent acidity. Very good.

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne 1994 £23.99 Buy 3 @ £15.99
Cheap for vintage Champagne, but 1994 was a poor year. There are steadily streaming bubbles and a tight nose with a touch of creamy, autolysis character and a hint of caramel. Lively, bittersweet palate with a herbal edge to citrus fruit. Definite nettle quality and hints of complexity. Very good.

White

Italy

There is 15% off any six Italian wines (@ £3 and over). Second price quoted is the offer price.

Pasqua, Chardonnay Puglia 2001 £2.99
Very lemony and fresh with hints of buttery richness. The palate is juicy and citrussy, then a butterscotch note develops. Very good at the price.

Coste del Molino, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2001 £4.99 - £4.24
Lovely creamy, yeasty, baked apple pie nose with lemony highlights. Delightfully sweet-edged apricot and ripe pear fruit, with a tiny hint of lively sparkle, then dry, nutty nuances and fine acidity. Medium-bodied and quite rich, this is lovely stuff. Very good.

Castello Banfi, Pinot Grigio San Angelo 2001 £6.99 - £5.94
From top Chianti producer Castello Banfi, this has a fat, aromatically rich nose, with aromas of nuts, figs, berries, custard, melon and orchard fruits. After that entrance, it holds up pretty well on the palate, where a medium-bodied, chewy texture supplies plenty of nutty, sweet-edged apricot and peach kernel fruit, and a wrapping of oily lemon acidity. Very good indeed.

Burgundy

2000 Bourgogne Aligoté, Jayer-Gilles £3.99
Clean citrus nose, with hints of more complex pear and straw. Moderate richness of fresh, minerally citrus and surprisingly weighty fruit. Crisp and clean on the finish, this is good Aligoté (perfect base wine for making Kir: add crème de cassis).

2001 Maçon Villages, Cave Co-operative Prissé £4.49 Buy 2 @ £3.99
Quite modest orange, straw and herby nose, a hint of melon. Nice fruit on the palate; juicy apple and hint of peachiness. Moderate weight, with fresh, tangy acidity. Very nice stuff. Good - very good value indeed at £3.99.

1999 Bourgogne Blanc, Cave Co-op de Buxy £4.99 Buy 2 @ £4.49
Clean, citrussy nose, with apple and a mineral cut. Juicy, fresh lemon palate, with crisp minerality. Modest length. Good.

2001 Maçon Prissé, Cave Co-operative Prissé £5.49 Buy 2 @ £4.99
A little more richness here, with a suggestion of honeysuckle and ripe pear fruit. There is even a little suggestion of tropical fruit, that follows onto the palate with bright citrus acidity and very fine quality at the price. Correct, and very good.

2000 St Véran La Solitude, Cave Co-operative Prissé £5.99
Concentrated, rich, surprisingly oaky nose with a hint of coffee and vanilla. The palate is rich and satisfying, with a buttery, nutty quality and a good weight of ripe fruit. Very good/very good indeed.

2000 Rully "La Bergerie", M Dupasquier £6.99 Buy 2 @ £5.99
Concentrated and rich, there's a definite honeysuckle and straw-like aspect, then a nicely nutty, leesy, concentration. The palate has good fruit, with weight but a crisp mineral edge freshening the finish. Very good.

2000 Rully 1er Cru "Les Cloux", Vincent Girardin £9.99 Buy 2 @ £8.99
Nutty honeysuckle and a lightly toasty nose. Clean, attractive melon and orchard fruits. Nice palate too, with a very juicy, mouthwatering quality of fruit constrained by crisp pear and citrus. There's a creamy suggestion to this, and some complexity as well as good length. Very good indeed.

1999 Santenay 1er Cru Clos Beauregard, Vincent Girardin £13.99
Big, bold, cream and butter nose with leesy weight and lots of walnut and coffee. Very attractive. The palate displays ripe, sweet-edged peachy fruit, with hints of exotic fruits and then a sharpening citrus and mineral acidity. Long and lovely, this is very good indeed. Girardin seems to be on very good form over the last few vintages.

2001 Chablis, Vocoret £8.99 Buy 2 @ £6.99
Quite subdued, mineral and straw-like aromas. There is some restrained apple fruit. Quite full-bodied on the palate though, with mineral-edged orchard fruits and a fine spine of lemony acidity into a fresh finish. Really rather good, classic Chablis. Very good.

2000 Chablis Vieilles Vignes, Vocoret £9.49 Buy 2 @ £8.49
Much more leesy, forward, nutty and buttery qualities on the nose. Very concentrated and dense. There is no shortage of crisp lemon fruit on the palate, but it is underpinned by a lush breadth of sweet fruit. Good acidity too, and suggestions that it might develop some honeyed weight with cellaring. Very good/very good indeed.

2000 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains, Vocoret £10.99 Buy 2 @ £9.49
A little closed on the nose. Straw-like aromas and a little salty minerality, with subtle nettle notes. Crisply defined palate with a great core of minerality and plenty of lemony fruit. Really steely and tight, but showing lovely purity into a long finish. Very good indeed.

Spain

2000 Protocolo Blanco, Dominio de Eguren £3.99
Juicy, sweet peach notes on the nose that are quite sherbetty. Modest, fruity, pear and gently peachy palate with lowish acidity. A nice summer glugger and moderate 11.5% alcohol. Good.

1999 Cosme Palacio, Rioja Blanco £5.99
Nice, quite old-fashioned and classic vanilla, marzipan and orangey nose with an Amaretto note and waxy character. The palate is herbal and nutty, with again an orange fruitiness and lightly oxidised quality. Good length and fine style, but one you might love or hate. Put me in the former bracket! Very good indeed.

2001 Albariño Rias Baixas, Martin Codax £7.99 Buy 2 @ £6.49
An old favourite that is displaying youthful, crisp, elegant ripe pear fruit that is sweet and lush, with a hint of mealy quality. Plenty of crisp, pungent gooseberry and zippy melon and asian pear crunch. Fine quality, with citrus acidity extending the finish. Very good indeed.

New Zealand

2000 Fairleigh Estate, Single Vineyard Chardonnay £7.99 Buy 2 @ £6.99
Big honey and warm peach nose, with a toasty layering of sweet oak. Very lush and rich onto the palate, with apricot fruit and a definite hint of pineapple. The palate quite full-bodied, but is underpinned by good acidity into a very stylish finish. Very good indeed, and well-priced.

South Africa

2001 Zondernaam, Sauvignon Blanc £6.99 Buy 2 @ £5.99
Sauvignon in the decidedly ripe, tropical spectrum with juicy pineapple and lush guava and lychee notes. The palate is pure and quite crisp thanks to lemon and lime joining that ripe tropical fruit. Good length, though the acidity kicks in quite abruptly. Very good.

Chile

2001 La Mira, Sauvignon Blanc £3.99 on offer £3.79
There is quite a slatey, schisty quality about this on the nose (and a touch of sulphur), but then very attractive, quite herbal fruit emerges, showing gooseberry and melon character. Fine and racy on the palate, with a little mineral edge. A tad short, but balanced and refined in style. Very good.

2001 Vistasur, Sauvignon Blanc £4.99 Buy any 6 Vistasur save 15% £4.24
Usually one of my favourite Chilean Sauvignons Blanc, this has an elegant, moderate mid-way style between the herbal and tropical. Some leafy nettle character, but plenty of expressive passionfruit. Clean, crisp palate, with lots of citrus and just a hint of tropical lychee and sweet, exotic fruit quality. Long and very good.

2001 La Mira, Chardonnay £3.99 on offer £3.79
Clean, crisp honeysuckle and melon fruit, with a richer note of sweet apricot fruit. Good quality on the palate, with quite weighty tropical fruit and plenty of concentrated ripeness. Very nice Chardonnay at a bargain price. Very good.

2000 Vistasur, Chardonnay £4.99 Buy any 6 Vistasur save 15% £4.24
Big, buttery, coffee and nut oak on the nose, with a suggestion of green bean, then a luscious, waxy lemon fruit. Cool palate that doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the nose, but good style and decent length. Very good.

2001 Montes, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc £5.99 Buy 2 @ £5.49
Powerful, pungent, herbaceous nose with loads of green bean and zippy grapefruit, Fine sweetness and a hint of tropicality on the palate, with lychee and passionfruit, then an interesting undertow of vanilla into a powerful, long finish. Very good.

2000 Montes, Alpha Chardonnay £9.99 Buy 2 @ £8.99
Very Burgundian nose of toasty oak, honeysuckle and butterscotch with a fine weight of well-defined peach fruit. Lovely sweet richness onto the palate, full and poised with lots of pure, powerful fruit and good length. Very classy stuff, and very good indeed.

2001 Cono Sur, Vision Chardonnay £7.49 on offer - will be £8.99
High-toast, quality French oak nose with notes of honey and sweet, fantastically opulent, butterscotchy fruit. There are notes of ginger and tropical fruit. On the palate this is very rich and juicy, with some mineral acidity adding fine definition into a long, focused finish. Excellent.

Australia

Offers include: buy any six Rosemount wines for £30, and buy any six of Lindemans Bin 65, Bin 45 or Bin 50 and save a third.

2001 Oxford Landing, Sauvignon Blanc £4.99 Buy 2 @ £3.99
Moderate style with hints of herbaceous nettle and gooseberry, and richer tropical nuances. Very soft, gentle, crowd-pleasing peachy fruit with decent balance. Good/very good.

2001 Rosemount Estate, Sauvignon Blanc £6.99 six for £30 = £5.00
Modest nose. Rather featureless middle of the road style, with decent fruit, a little herbaceousness and a sweetish, commercial finish. Not my cup of tea and £5 makes more sense than £6.99. Good.

2001 Amberley Estate, Sauvignon Blanc £9.99 Buy 2 @ £6.99
Huge green bean nose, with notes of asparagus and plenty of chunky concentration. Pungently herbaceous passionfruit and gooseberry fruit pushes through onto the palate, where a streak of grapefruity acidity adds drama to weighty, juicy peach fruit. Impressive if you like your Sauvignons in the herbal spectrum, and very good.

2001 Oxford Landing, Y Series Viognier £6.99
Lovely nose redolent of buttery peach and pear, with a little hint of sherbet. The palate has moderate, clean, juicy fruit which is fresh and citrussy, with a sweet fleshiness on the mid-palate. Medium- to full-bodied, there's a suggestion of caramel into the finish which is long and sweetly-fruited. Very good.

2001 Capel Vale, Riesling 2001 £7.49 Buy 2 @ £6.99
Screwcapped bottle. Quite a big, waxy, petrolly nose, with lemon zest and crisp green apple fruit. The palate is very cool and crisp, with citrus fruit and juicy pear. Good acidity and overall balance, though perhaps lacking a little complexity on the palate. Very good.

2001 Oxford Landing, Chardonnay £4.99 Buy 2 @ £3.99
Flawless commercial style, with lightly-honeyed and vanilla-slicked orchard fruits and good mouthfeel. Balanced and fine. Very good.

2001 Lindemans, Bin 65 Chardonnay £5.99 six save 33% £3.99
Similar formula, adding a little more toast on the nose and a zestier, lemon character cutting in on the finish. Another very attractive wine of its style and unlikely to disappoint - especially at the multi-buy price. Very good.

2001 Kangarilla Road, Chardonnay £7.99 Buy 2 @ £6.49
Lovely style here; citrus and lime-fresh aromas, some developing toastiness and suggestion of richer peach fruit. Quite nutty too. Medium- to full-bodied and rich in the mouth, with good length and a long, toasty, very moreish finish. Very good/very good indeed.

2001 Tyrrell's, Old Winery Semillon £6.99 Buy 2 @ £5.99
A touch of honey over clean, bright, citrussy fresh aromas. There's a little gravelly quality too. Round, rich palate, with lots of chewy fruit quality and concentration, but still crisply delineated by fresh acidity and tight, focused fruit quality into the finish. Very good.

2001 Amberley Estate, Semillon £9.99 Buy 2 @ £6.99
Nuttier, toastier, hot buttered crumpet aromas with a waxy quality of buttery lemon fruit. Very attractive. Beautiful palate, softly layered with nutty flavours, smoke and butterscotch over medium-bodied lemony fruit. Weighty and long, this has fine balance and is delicious. Unoaked, but with a rounded, warming, toasty quality. Excellent.

Germany

2000 Riesling Ruppertsberg Pfalz £4.49 Buy 2 @ £3.74
Modest nose of honey and citrus, with a little peachy, creamy note. Just off-dry, there's a searing core of lemony acidity against sweet, musky, peachy fruit. Quite elegant, but simple and only moderately long. Good.

1996 Piesporter Goldtröpchen Kabinett, Weller-Lehnert £4.99
Quite distinctive nettly quality on the nose; lots of herbal character over ripe apple fruit. Off-dry, with sweet grape flavour, as well as crisp apple and asian pear. Medium weight, and the finish has plenty of citrus zip. Good/very good.

1991 Ürziger Würzgarten Kabinett, Christoffel Prüm £4.99
Distinctly mineral quality here, with undertones of petrol and wax, a little green bean, vegetal quality. Off-dry again, the fruit is modest, with a mineral core of acidity dominating on the palate. Pleasant stuff, with a balanced finish, but lacking a little fruit. Good.

1997 Trierer Deutschherrenberg Spätlese, Deutschherren-Hof £5.49
Modest herbal nose over orchard fruits. Medium-sweet, with a clean mineral sense over crisp green apple, granny smith flavours. Quite good length, but lacks complexity. Good.

Rosé

2001 Rosé d'Anjou, La Jaglerie, France £3.49
Delicate pale pink, with an attractive soft nose of strawberry fruit, and a confectionery and floral lift. Quite vibrant on the palate; just off-dry, with a cherry and sweet strawberry fruitiness and moderate acidity. A bit sweetie-commercial in style, but easy-sipping garden rosé and only 11% alcohol. Good.

2001 Côtes du Ventoux, Le Passe Colline, Rhône, France £3.99
Subtle nose, with a gravelly quality and some raspberry fruit. The palate is dry and a bit flat, with a slightly alcoholic astringency on the finish. Moderate.

2001 Abbaye de Sylva, Plana Faugeres France £4.99
Nicer nose, with an added edge of herbal complexity to stony, gravelly aromas and modest red fruit. Perhaps a little bitter stalkiness on the palate, but quite grippy and has character. Dry. Good.

2001 Château Guiot, Costières de Nîmes, France £4.99 Buy 2 @ £4.49
A little more sweetness and brighter focus here, with strawberry fruit and a hint of pleasant earthiness. The palate has moderate berry fruit, and a fine core of citrussy acidity. Quite long, and very good.

2001 Chiaretto, Cavalchina, Italy £4.99 Buy 6 Italian save 15% £4.24
Rounded, creamy, much softer nose, with lots of herbs, flint and good fruit. Nicely weighted fruity palate too, with lots of cherry and raspberry flavours and good acidity. Very good.

2001 Rioja Rosado, Muga, Spain £5.99 Buy 2 @ £4.99
Cream, flowers, and a warming impression of sweet strawberry pulp. There's a decent weight of fruit on the palate, that is peachy and soft, with red fruits and a hint of rose-hip. Modest length, and could do with a bit more acidity to freshen, but good.

2001 Château Méaume, Bordeaux, France £5.49
Vibrant pink colour, with a slightly odd, oily-fish quality on the nose, but also quite rich fruit. The palate is very dry, with tart raspberry fruit and a touch of lemon. Quite long and clean as a whistle, but not my cup of tea really. Good.

2001 Château de Sours, Bordeaux, France £6.99
Sweet and instantly intense, with a fine quality of strawberry fruit and a little hint of fudge. Mouthfilling, fresh, vibrant fruit on the palate, with a lovely quality of ripeness, good balance. A rosé with emphatic character. Very good indeed.

2001 Sancerre Rosé, Domaine Roger Neveu, Loire, France £7.99
Fascinating nose of herbs, nettles, vivid, soft strawberry fruit and a hint of mineral and earth. Pure, zippy red fruits on the palate crisply constrained by citrus acidity. Tangy and a bit of complexity. Very good.

2001 Sancerre Rosé la Guiberte, Alain Gueneau, Loire, France £9.99
There's an earthy, almost slightly animal complexity on the nose of this 100% Pinot Noir rosé. On the palate a great thrust of grapefruity acidity overpower nettle and herbal flavours, then some earthy strawberry fruit emerges. Decent length. Good/very good.

Majestic