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Majestic Wines 11/01

by Tom Cannavan

110 wines tasted. Part I - whites



This was a press tasting of all the newest lines and vintages available in Majestic Wine Warehouses, the UK's "by the case" specialist. Most of these are at special offer prices through Christmas. 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. All promotional prices are valid until 28th January 2002. Please note that original, pre-discount prices are shown.

See also part II - over 50 rosé, red & sweet wines.

white

Italy

Fratelli Zeni, Garganega Vigne Alte 2000 £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
Lovely sweet, floral nose. Lots of ripe pear fruit. This is crisp and fruity with plenty of lemon and orchard fruits, fine mineral acidity and juicy lightness of touch. Very good.

Conti Formentini, Pinot Grigio 2000 £6.99 Buy 2 save £1
Light, sherbetty, mineral and salt nose. Fresh and crisp, filled with chilled melon fruit and verve of citrus. Very racy, with hints of minerality in the finish. Good/very good.

Loire

Joseph Mellot, Quincy 2000 £5.99 Buy 2 save £2
Beautifully bright greengage and gooseberry character. Quite round and plush, edging into tropical fruit. On the palate a big streak of juicy, clean lemony acidity and lovely fruit quality. Quite long and very appealing. Very good indeed.

Domaine Fournier, Menetou-Salon 2000 £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
Much more subdued character with light, herbal and grapefruit on the nose and some pear and apple. Quite a racy style, with plenty of acidity. Better with food. Good.

Roger Neveu, Sancerre 2000 £7.99
Much more sweet, almost confected nose with floral notes over boiled sweets and citrus, a hint of steely minerality. Modest palate, with a streak of tangy grapefruit acidity and some mineral acidity. Good.

Cave Coop de Vins de Sancerre, Sancerre 2000 £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
This is very dumb on the nose. Palate has very modest fruit too. The balance is OK, but it is rather dull and lacking distinction. Moderate - choose another Sancerre from the range.

Domaine Serge Laloue, Sancerre 2000 £8.49 Buy 2 save £1
Rich passionfruit and gooseberry aromatics, hints of guava and tropical melon fruit. The palate is cool and lemony, with lovely texture of smooth, rich fruit melded with grapefruit acidity. Very good/very good indeed.

Château de Sancerre, Sancerre 2000 £9.99
More sweet-edged passionfruit and gooseberry here, a little nettly hint. Quite pungent, with orchard fruits on the palate, grapefruit and lime. Very savoury and juicy, this has good length. Very good.

Dom. Bourillon D'Orléans, Vouvray Demi-Sec 2000 £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Maybe a little less sweet than the 1999 vintage, this has lush tropicality on the nose and initially on the palate before good acidity. Good.

French Regional

Cuvée Elise Demi Sec NV £2.99
Lovely melon and lemon-bright nose of modest intensity. Definite residual sugar, with a sweet edge to reasonable fruit. Quite good in an off-dry, crowd-pleasing style.

Cuvée de Richard Blanc NV £2.79
Similarly fresh and bright, perhaps a little less aromatically intense, but fine pear and lemon-drop fruit. Lots of juicy citrus fruit on the palate, and though quite simple, very good and great value.

Domaine Plantade Chardonnay Viognier 2000 £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Sweet, ripe, floral and peachy nuances over pear fruit. Nice and bright and crisp. Modest palate, though quite fleshy with off-dry pear fruit and decent length. Balanced and good.

Domaine Caillaubert Chard/Sauv 2000 £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Pungent, herbal and gooseberry fruit, with notes of guava and nettles. Sauvignon-dominant. Chardonnay does fill-out the palate, with some tropical fruit and a buttery hint over lemon fruit. Just off-dry again I'd say, but good length and really very good of its crowd-pleasing style.

Bordeaux

Calvet Reserve Blanc 2000 £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
This has a good quality of punchy, ripe, pear fruit and a nutty, leesy undertone. The palate has a fine tropically sweet edge to crisp, fresh citrus fruit. Lots of lemon and lime, but not too tart. Quite elegant and fresh. Very good.

Burgundy

Domaine Servin, Chablis 1999 £6.99 Buy 2 save £1
Slightly reticent mineral and apple nose. Moderate, dry fruit on the palate. Perhaps needs a year for the acidity to integrate, but a bit thin and nondescript. Moderate.

La Chablisienne, Chablis 1997, magnum £15.99
Quite impressive, having a magnum to serve from at Christmas. Unfortunately the wine is a bit sulphury, but some minerality creeps in and a nettly, rather underripe note. Plate is similarly unimpressive I'm afraid. Pity. Poor/moderate.

Vocoret, Chablis 1er Cru "Les Forêts" VV 2000 Special Offer £10.49
Some good orchard fruit quality here; really quite juicy and vibrant. Fine lemon edge continues through to palate. Lovely stuff this, with bags of crunchy, fresh citrus, decent length and good weight of fruit in the mouth. Very good indeed.

Pinson, Chablis 1er Cru 2000 Milieu £11.49
Pear and melon dominates the nose, with some stony, gravelly minerality. Quite subdued on the palate at first, but then a certain waxy lemon fatness emerges. It stays focused with a mineral core and racy lemon acidity into the finish. Very good.

Château du Cray, Montagny 1er Cru 2000 £8.99 Buy 2 save £2
Light, unoaked citrus and apple-fruited nose with a background hint of nutty malolactic. Some almond and citrus on the palate too, this is quite powerful with good acidity and a bit of character. Good/very good.

Vincent Girardin, Rully Blanc 1er Cru “Les Cloux” 1999 £9.99
Leesy, rich, skin-contact nose with nutty overtones and bags of quality orchard fruits. The palate is sweet and ripe with beautifully rich, juicy fruit and good balance. Long and very good indeed - maybe deserves excellent given the price.

Vincent Girardin, Meursault 1er Cru les Narvaux 1999 £18.99
Sweet, nutty, buttery overtones are classically Meursault. Notes of peach, vanilla and apricot kernel. Sweet, almost fat fruit on the palate with juicy pear and apple that is crunchy and fine. Lovely mouthfeel. Finishes with moderate acidity (needs a touch more?) but plenty of style and good balance. Lovely, and very good indeed.

Vincent Girardin, Puligny Montrachet “Les Enseignières” 1999 £19.99
Not a premier Cru, but a village wine. Great, nutty, rich, warming nose of vanilla-coated, toasty oak over good fruit. Elegance lurking here, with racy lemon fruit beneath and a hint of mineral. Balanced palate, with plenty of sweet fruit and a little more vibrancy than the Meursault; quite pungent with punchy fruit and terrific acidity sharpening-up the finish. Long and very good indeed.

Rhône

Domaine des Sénéchaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2000 £8.99
Immediate pear fruit on the nose - very fragrant and quite light. The palate is very dry. There is lemon fruit and a searing blend of acidity and alcohol clamping down on the finish. Needs food, maybe lacks a little fatness in the mouth. Moderate/good.

Canada

Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Blanc 2000 £6.99 Buy any 2 @ £5.99
I would have sworn this was New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the nose, with typically pungent, herbal, nettle and gooseberry aromatics and little nuances of sweeter tropical fruit. Full-bodied, ripe, sweet-edged fruit on the palate, lots of tropical richness tempered by good citrus acidity. Quite chewy and attractive. Very good.

New Zealand

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Sauv. Blanc 2001 £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Tropical fruit sweetness and some pungent lychee and gooseberry, guava and lots of sweet, very ripe aromatics. This has good power and weight on the palate, with punchy orange and more full-bodied, sweet, exotic fruit finishing with juicy acidity. Bold and very good.

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2000 £7.99
In stores late November 2001. Fine nose of barrel-fermented, nutty, rich, vanilla and cocoa-bean. Classy, toasty French oak. It is reasonably restrained in style on the palate, with crisp, crunchy orchard fruits dominating and a suggestion of sweeter, lush peach. Good balance, fine length and plenty of style. Very good/very good indeed.

South Africa

Danie de Wet Sauvignon Blanc 2001 £4.49
Crisp, crunchy, sherbetty nose. Quite fine, not overbearing, with a hint of minerality. Palate has enough sweetness of fruit but also a leafy, gooseberry crunch of acidity. Modest, but balanced and well made. Good.

de Wetshof Limestone Hills Chardonnay 2001 £7.49 Buy 2 save £1
Very crisp, bright, citrus fruit that is bursting, vibrant and not masked by oak. Fruit fairly tingles in the mouth with shimmering acidity giving a nervy edge to quite sweet, seductive, ripe peach and pear fruit leading into a long, pure, very sophisticated finish. Very good indeed.

California (Buy any 2 Californian wines save 15%)

Nathanson Creek California White 2000 £3.99
Floral-scented sweet fruit, quite peppy and punchy with pear, peach and a little juicy greengage note. Very mouthwatering style on the palate; fruity, well-balanced and altogether lovely stuff at the price. Very good. (48% Chenin Blanc, 48% Colombard, 4% Muscat)

Fetzer Californian Chard/Viognier 2000 £5.99
Luscious, bright, crisp pear fruit on the nose. The Chardonnay adds a hint of butteriness, and on the palate the full-texture fills the mouth with clean, flavoursome fruit. Very good.

Fetzer Echo Ridge Viognier 2000 £7.99
Absolutely lovely, haunting, pure pear and floral fruit on the nose. Racy and quite fine on the palate, this is held together by good acidity and is a terrific example of how to constrain Viognier's tendency to be overbearing. Very good indeed.

Foxen Chardonnay 1999, Santa Maria £11.49
Nutty, toasty overtones to pungent, herbal quite vegetal ripe fruit on the nose. Big, overripe character continues on the palate, with a hint of residual sugar, but an impressive mouthful of peach juice fruit, apricot and fresh, bursting grape flavours. Good acidity too in a nicely done, explosive package that maintains balance. Very good indeed.

Chile (Buy any 6 Chilean wines save 15%)

La Mira Chardonnay 2001, Maipo Valley £4.49
Vibrantly fresh, fruity nose with little gooseberry notes, punchy tropical fruit and a moderate background of vanillin. A very crowd-pleasing palate with sweet, toffee-edged fruit, peach, apricot and a cut of lemony acidity. Very good commercial style.

La Mira Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Maipo Valley £4.49
Similarly punchy gooseberry and passionfruit nose. The palate is a little lightweight and a little pallid, though juicy enough and retaining crispness and crunch. Good, though I prefer the Chardonnay.

Vistasur Sauvignon Blanc 2000 £4.99
Quite a lush, sweet-fruited style of Sauvignon with exotic aromas of pineapple, guava and passionfruit, carrying through onto a well-balanced palate. Very good.

Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2001 £6.49
Seriously crisp and tangy nose with pungent nettle, grapefruit and juicy kumquat aromas, a touch of cool melon. Lovely stuff, continuing onto the palate with tropical sweetness of fruit tempered by a striking blackcurrant leaf note, good body and a long, elegant finish. Very good indeed.

Montes Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Curico Valley £5.99
More moderate nose aromatically, with rounded, ripe fruit aromas of melon and passionfruit. Quite a rich, spicy mouthful (partially matured in oak), with plenty of oomph and a rich, powerful finish. Good/very good.

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2000 £9.99
Burnt orange and crème brûlée toastiness on the nose; very charry oak impression. The palate is generous and mouth-filling, with a great weight of fat, juicy, serious fruit that is ripe and sweet. Long and sumptuous, really well-made in a super-rich style. Very good indeed/excellent.

Australia

Coldridge Estate Chardonnay 2000 South Australia £3.79
Sweet vanilla, oaky nose layered over typically sunny, sweet fruit. Lots of ripe pear and hints of peach. Good balance on the palate, before a little kick of hot alcohol (13.5%) slightly disrupts the finish. Good stuff at the price.

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000 £5.99 buy 2 get 3rd free
Moderately juicy, exotic, honeysuckle and vanilla with peach and melon fruit. Balanced palate of ripe, luscious fruit and sufficient acidity. Good, and a great deal on the 3 for 2 offer for fans of this reliable Ozzie Chardonnay at £4 per bottle equivalent.

Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2001, McLaren Vale £7.99 Buy 2 save £2
Moderately-oaked nose of creamy, lightly-honeyed lemon fruit. Fine, juicy palate, with lots of vibrant, crunchy pear and citrus fruit. There's a hint of sweetness, and a pineapple exotic quality, and this is very attractive in a commercial style. Good/very good.

Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 1998 £7.99
An old favourite that never disappoints, this has a beautifully waxy, full, straw and butter nose, with a lovely fruit quality and a slick of creamy vanillin. There's a complex herbal edge to the fruit on the palate, which is otherwise fat and buttery, with good citrus acidity adding a fresh edge to an altogether charming wine. Very good indeed.

Bethany Riesling 2001, Barossa Valley £5.49 Buy 2 save £1
Clean, crisp, ripe nose with delicate floral and lime fruit. The palate is fresh and pure, shot-through with lime and juicy acidity in a medium-bodied format. Quite simple though, and perhaps might develop some complexity. Good, with very good potential..

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Sauvignon Semilion 2000 £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Definite herbal quality on the nose, with distinct green bean and nettle aromatics. There's a waxy edge too, and that waxy, lemony character dominates the palate. Cool and fresh. Good

Noble Road Verdelho 2001 £5.99 Buy 2 save £2
Light, crisp, ozone quality on the nose over leafy fruit and some sweet, tropical substance. The palate is clean and bright fruit that is light and citrussy, with quite a fleshy mouthfeel. Good.

Capel Vale Verdelho 2000, Western Australia £7.99 Buy 2 save £1
Intensity ramped-up from the previous Verdelho, with bold, leafy aromatics, notes of nuts, flowers and herbs over rich, ripe, lush peach fruit. The palate has a fine sense of richness, with full-texture and tropical nuances tot he fruit before a welcome cut of mineral acidity. Very good.

Alsace

Materne Haegelin, Pinot Blanc 1999 £5.49 Buy 2 save £1
Light nose, vague notes of herbs and nuts and a slightly dank quality. Very modest palate, with notes of pear and a little suggestion of quince and more exotic quality. Solid acidity, but rather non-descript in the final analysis. Moderate.

Materne Haegelin, Riesling Bollenberg 1999 £6.99 Buy 2 save £3
Light, punchy, lemon-fresh and waxy nose, just a hint of minerality. Juicy, bright lemon fruit on the palate, not much complexity, but crisp, mouthwatering and food-friendly. Good.

Materne Haegelin, Tokay Pinot Gris 1999 £7.99 Buy 2 save £2
I've been following this wine for years, and it has been a "wine of the week" in a couple of vintages. No let-down here, with a tiny toffeed note over melon, peach and nutty aromatics, a little truffly, earthy note too. Hints of sweetness on the palate, with a great deal of juicy, attractive pear, peach and exotic fruit that is intense and has a lovely acid balance that is just missing in the Riesling. Very good indeed.

Materne Haegelin, Gewürztraminer 1999 £8.99 Buy 2 save £3
Very attractive, fresh, tangy nose with floral aromatics of roses and lychee over sweet, ripe fruit. Palate again has a hint of residual sugar, with lush nectarine and apricot fruit then a lovely lift from orange and grapefruit acidity into the finish. Very good indeed. These latter two wines in particular offer great value at the discount price.

German Rieslings

Burg-Layer Schlossberg Kabinett 1991 £3.99
Nutty, waxy, attractively pungent nose with some cool, apple fruit. The palate is relatively light, with crisp apple-fruited appeal, and a savoury greengage acidity and hints of minerals. Quite simple, but good/very good.

FW Gymnasium, Neumagener Rosengärtchen Kabinett 1994 £4.99
A whiff of sulphur before pungent, leafy, herb and nettle fruit. Delicious waxy-lemon coating. Bright, sweet, well-focused fruit on the palate with racy apple acidity and a fine sense of purity. Very good.

Dr Hermann, Erdener Treppchen Spätlese 1998 £4.99
Modestly herbal nose before a very nice quality of lemon fruit, greengage and nettle. Tropically sweet palate, with plenty of ripe pear and apple; tangy but all coated in sweetness. Good freshening acidity and length. Good/very good.

Dr Hermann, Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese 1998 £4.99
Modest, light, creamy nose. Notes of orchard fruits and melon. Very clean and pure. Palate continues in same vein, with little development as yet and plenty of crisp, sherbetty apple and pear fruit with a reasonable finish. Maybe needs a year or two to go from good, to very good.

Burg-Layer Rothenberg Auslese 1992 £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
From Nahe, this has a lovely nose of sweet, wax-coated, lightly toffeed apple fruit. Scintillating sweet focus of pear and ripe guava on the palate, and the acidity is well-judged, giving a green apple crunch that extends the finish. Very harmonious. Very good.

Dr Hermann, Urziger Würzgarten Auslese 1996 £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Back to the Mosel's most famous vineyard for this big, spicy, powerful wine with distinct herb and mineral notes over plenty of wax and stony, gravelly quality. The palate is sweet and lush, with beautiful ripeness of pear fruit, little nuances of honeyed, tropical fruit and lovely quality throughout. Good length, and a pure, balancing acidity. Excellent.

Whilst this latter wine is the stand-out of the German line-up at an absolute bargain price, congratulations once more to Majestic for being the high-street's only retailer to put their money where their mouth is with their extensive range of wonderful German Rieslings.

See also part II - over 50 rosé, red & sweet wines