Jamet, Syrah Rosé 2000, VdP Limited Availability £4.99
Just a hint of sweet, juicy strawberry and crisp raspberry on the nose. The palate has a fine quality of fruit, lots of berry crunch and zippy mineral acidity. Good length, and a fine rosé. Good/very good.
Domaine Roger Neveu, Sancerre Rosé 2000 Limited Availability £9.99
Lovely bright salmon pink. A little herbal, leafy quality, then a hint of ripe, sweet, even tropical fruit. Crunchy-fruited, bone-dry palate, with some raspberry fruit, but for me lacks a little roundness and fruit on the palate. Certainly needs food. Moderate/good.
Caves Hautes Côtes, Hautes Côtes de Nuits 1999 £5.49 Buy 2 save £1
Pleasantly mineral nose, perhaps slightly stalky, but not unpleasantly so with hints of charry wood and schist. The plate has moderate cherry fruit, and a bit of tannic bite. Moderate/good.
Domaine Louis Max, Côte Chalonnaise 1999 £8.99 Buy 2 save £2
More obvious sweet new oak on the nose with vanilla and a light toffee note. The palate has quite a good mouthfeel, with cherry fruit and some liquoricy depth, perhaps even a bit too extracted and edging into bitterness. Needs food again. Moderate/good.
Domaine C et C Marechal, Chorey-les-Beaunes 1999 £9.99
Lighter, sweeter, much fruitier nose with strawberry and vanillin to the fore. Quite a rich palate of robust, earthy fruit, a decent earthy sweetness too and some grip from ripe tannins in the finish. Balanced and good/very good. Limited availability.
Domaine C et C Marechal, Ladoix les Chaillots 1999 £9.99
Nice Pinot nose of slightly vegetal raspberry and hints of a nice vegetal complexity beneath sweet, attractive fruit. Again, a little creamy background provided by vanillin oak. Palate has good balance, and though perhaps lacking a little generosity of fruit, good. Limited availability.
Domaine Rossignol Jeanniard, Aloxe Corton 2000 £13.99
This is a new estate for me, presumably part of the Rossignol family that makes very good wines as Rossignol-Trapet. Quite a sweet, creamy, weighty character over red cherry fruit on the nose. Bright notes of sweet strawberry and raspberry. Nice juicy palate, with lots of orange acidity and some sweet red fruit beneath a layer of lightly-smoky oak. Very good.
Domaine Albert Morot, Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes 1986 £14.99
How wonderful it would have been to be able to wholeheartedly recommend a mature 1er Cru red Burgundy at such a modest price. For me, unfortunately, this wine is just edging into a steeply downward slope. It has a slightly stewed, maderised quality on the nose of otherwise developed, gamy, undergrowth and dank, farmyard bouquet. There's also a little rubbery note that is less appealing. On the palate the acidity is rather prominent, and though still an interesting wine to see what a decent old Burgundy is like, this is rather past it and not entirely pleasurable for my tastes. Limited availability.
Marc Roy, Gevrey Chambertin Clos Prieur 1999 £18.99 on offer £15.99
A real contrast in a much more modern-styled red Burgundy. Riper, clean, almost minty-bright red fruit on the nose. Aromas of strawberry and sweet cherry over soft, custardy oak. Good spicy palate, plenty of new oak evident, with crisp, crunchy red fruit and hints of bittersweet plum and cherry tartness. The finish is rounded out with toasty oak and decent balance of tannins and acids. Very good.
Alain Michelot, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1999 £17.99
Similar nose of sweet vanillin over charry, quite briary berry fruits. Smooth mouthfeel and quite a good texture. Plenty of tannins evident here, with a bitter plumskin fruit and acidity adding cleanliness and length. Should cellar for a few years and be quite attractive. Very good.
This didn't strike me as a great line-up of red Burgundies: certainly not as good as the whites on show, and a little disappointing compared to the trio of fine red Chassagne-Montrachets recommended in the summer.
Domaine de Richard 2000, Vin de Pays de l'Aude £2.79
An old favourite which, in value for money terms, is one of the stars of UK wine shelves. This has a sweet, slightly confected toffee-fudge nose over sweet berry fruit. The dry but fruity palate has a little tannin and nice acid balance. It drinks really well and would be widely food friendly. Good, and excellent value.
Cuvée des Amandiers 2000, Vin de Pays d'Oc £2.99
70/30 split of Grenache and Syrah, this is another wine with an attractive nose of light, warm, summer berry fruit, with notes of blackcurrant and red cherry. Nice weight in the mouth, with plenty of pleasant, crunchy, full and spicy fruit. Very good at the price.
Domaine Plantade Syrah Merlot 2000, VdP d'Oc £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Berries and cream on the nose, with hints of dark chocolate and black plums. Juicy black fruit on the palate, again notes of black plum and cherry giving a pleasant bittersweet quality, with nice sweet, chocolaty tannins and good concentration. Very good indeed, and terrific value at the offer price.
Mont Tauch, Fitou L'Exception 1998 £8.99
The Mont Tauch co-op are doing great things for the Fitou appellation, and this "super-Fitou", a blend of 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan and 40% Grenache spends 12 months in oak. There's a deep, serious appeal of creamy black-fruited richness on the nose. Notes of charcoal and liquorice, hints of nutmeg and toast. Creamy, spicy fruit floods the palate, which has a savoury appeal with crisp tannins and good acid balance. Very impressive modern wine. Very good/very good indeed.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Côtes du Ventoux Les Trois Mas 1999 £4.99
Light, vinous, rather sherbetty and very bright nose of crisp, focused redcurrant and berry fruit. Palate broadens out nicely into sweet, ripe fruit with a little spicy depth and good acidity. Decent length too, adding up to an attractive, food-friendly wine. Good.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné, Côtes du Rhône, Mule Noire 1999 £5.99
A little more depth on the nose; adds a creaminess and just a hint of cedar and briar wood. Good sweet fruit on the palate, with modest tannins and acidity. Finishes a little non-descript, but decent. Good.
Domaine Chomel, Crozes-Hermitage 1999, £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Sweet black fruit nose of cassis and berries with nice peppery highlights. Very expressive. The palate is bone dry, juicy and really quite elegant with enough weight and a dry, tannin-coated texture. There is plenty of ripe raspberry fruit and good length. Very good/very good indeed.
Les Grandes Serres Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe 1999 £8.99 on offer £8.49
Much more obvious overlay of sweet vanillin, toffee, mint-humbugs and super-ripe fruit. Palate has sufficient red fruit that is sweet and ripe, though with a welcome tannic edge giving firmness along with good acidity. I think this will benefit from a few years good cellaring, and then move from very good to very good indeed.
Dom. des Chenes Blancs, Gigondas 1999 £8.99 on Offer, will be £9.99
Gigondas is right beside Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, growing similar grape varieties. This is an 80/20 blend of Grenache and Syrah. It is very fragrant, with aromas of sweet strawberries, leather and bright red fruit, again that sheen of mint-humbug toffeed new oak. Smooth and rich on the palate, there is plenty of juicy raspberry fruit , a lovely grip of silky, chocolaty tannins and good length. Very good indeed.
Bordeaux wines are available for free tasting in all Majestic stores for a week beginning Monday 3rd December, so pop in and try some of these for yourself
Château Grivière 1995, Cru Bourgeois Médoc £4.99
Spicy, though slightly odd, dank nose. There is a touch of cedar over black fruit. The palate is very tannic and dry, with thick, mouth-coating tannins furring the palate. It is powerful and dense, and certainly couldn't be accused of being a lightweight "luncheon" claret, but it needs food to counteract a slightly over-extracted streak. Good.
Château Méaume 1998, Bordeaux Supérieur £5.99 Buy 2 save £1
Small animal, bloody notes over red fruits. Dry tannins coat the palate before bitter-edged, plummy fruit with hints of background, juicy, sweeter, ripe fruit. Quite long and powerfully made, this should improve with a year or two of age in bottle. Very good.
Château Méaume 1996, Château Matured Limited Availability £6.49
Majestic have had this wine matured at the Château since bottling in 1998. A blend of 80% Merlot and 10% each of Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon, it has a deal of leathery red fruit on the nose, notes of cedar and dry, dusty character. The palate is also very dry and seems to offer insufficient fruit. Moderate. I prefer the younger wine.
Château Pervenche-Puy-Arnauld 1998, Côtes de Castillon £8.49 Buy 2 save £2
There are lovely highlights of sweet, minty ripeness on the nose at first, with vanilla and some black fruit character. Again this is very dry on the palate, the creamy vanilla and hint of sweet cassis eking out dark, liquoricy, bitter plum fruit that is dark and savoury. Good.
Château La Fleur Plaisance 1999, St-Emilion GC £10.99 on Offer £9.99
This displays rich, thick, jammy berry fruit on the nose with hints of plum and chocolate and an exotic note of asian spice. Good weight of fruit on the palate, rich and powerful with berries and a sweet, thick depth edged by bold, dark tannins. Big and bold, modern style, and very good.
Château La Vieille Croix 1998, Fronsac £11.99 on Offer £10.99
This has a sweet, minty, berry, almost New World nose, with just hints of tobacco. Palate is quite dry and rather tannic, though there's a good quality of rose-scented fruits and a good balance against background tannins and good acidity. Dry style that need food, though of obviously good quality. Good/very good.
Pavillon des Connétables 1999, St-Julien £12.99 on offer £10.99
Open, fruity, bright berry nose with hints of leafy cabernet fruit. Dry palate that is quite closed, but slowly reveals a mid palate with a deep, creamy blackcurrant core. This powers through into the finish with fine tannins and good balance and is most enjoyable. Very good.
Château Grand Faurie Larose 1998, St-Emilion GC £12.99 will be £13.99
This failed to distinguish itself for me with a lighter, cherry and raspberry fruited nose and then rather weak fruit on the palate. Moderate.
Les Tourelles de Longueville 1997, Pauillac £12.99 will be £14.99
The second wine of Pichon-Longeuville-Baron, a 2nd growth. There's a really very nice, classy nose of savoury, cedarwood, animal classic claret. Plenty of blackcurrant fruit backs this up, with a little bite of savoury cherry. The palate is forward, ripe and juicy, with a nice tannic edge and plenty of stuffing. Elegant and classy, the finish is long and balanced by good acidity. Very good indeed and drinking well now.
Poupille 1998, Côtes de Castillon £13.99
Quite fragrant and nicely perfumed with sweet raspberry, chocolate and delightful violet notes. Good fruit too. Very pure and glossy on the palate with ripe, succulent fruit that is smooth and deep. Lovely sweetness on the mid-palate, before a classy grip of fine tannins and balancing acids. Very good indeed/excellent.
Château Moulin Riche 1997, St-Julien £17.99 on offer £14.99
A fine, typically St-Julien nose with savoury cedarwood and a bloody edge of animal and game. A rich, ripe seam of Merlot-dominant fruit offering plenty of plum and deep, sweet cherry. Good structure on the palate here, with drying tannins but balanced and drinking well now. Some toasty oak warms up the finish. Lovely and very good indeed for current drinking.
Les Pagodes de Cos 1998, St-Estèphe £17.99 on offer £15.99
The second wine of 2nd growth Cos d'Estournel at a keen price. Big, beefy and bold on the nose with bloody, gamy nuances. Very powerful palate, spicy and mouth-coating, there's a fairly massive quality about this wine on the palate with lots of ripeness at the core behind a framework of tannins and acids. Requires cellaring for five years. Excellent.
Copertino £4.99 Buy 2 save £1
Light, fragrant, cherry-fruited nose with some minty herbal notes and nuances of cream and berries. Some nice fruit on the palate too with a lemony acidity freshening the finish. Elegant and well-made. Very good.
Tedeschi, Rosso della Fabriseria 1999 £12.99 on offer £11.49
Sweet, fudgy toffee and deep black fruit nose, a pleasant hint of black olive savouriness and liquorice edge. Lovely sweetness of ripe fruit on the palate , heady with black fruit, depth and silky tannins all sharpened up by sour acidity giving balance to a long, sweet and pure finish. Very good indeed/excellent.
Aldo Conterno, Barbera d'Alba 1999 £13.99
A famous name of Piedmont, this Barbera has a leafy, herbal, mint-leaf quality over terrifically ripe fruit with a caramel depth. Very rich, sweet, deep fruit on the palate that is dry and juicy with a savoury core of broad acidity adding a juicy suppleness and sour plum appeal and decent structure. Very good indeed/excellent.
The Wilderness Monastrell 2000, Jumilla £4.49
Modest, light, herbal red fruit. The palate is much more juicy than the nose suggests, and is really very attractive with richness of fruit and good balance, leading to a long finish. Very good.
Casa de la Ermita 1999, Jumilla £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Multi-part blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, all aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels. The nose suggest new American oak immediately, with an overlay of spicy vanilla and sweet custard, toasty toffee and caramel. There is ripe black fruit in there too. The palate is savoury and dark with a fine bittersweet savoury character, but staying pure and refined into a long, well-balanced finish. Very good/very good indeed.
Pago de Carraovejas Crianza 1998, Ribera del Duero £13.49 on offer £10.99
75% Tempranillo, the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, and a gain a combination of French and US oak. This is super-sweet and spicy on the nose. Seasoned by high-toast oak, there is a lovely cassis-ripeness of sweet black fruit and a suggestion of black cherry. Good palate, with keen, crisp acidity and black fruits that are bitter-edged and juicy before a long, broad finish with ripe tannins and a hint of chocolate. Very good indeed.
Alenquer Castas do Carneiro 1998 £4.49 Buy 2 save £1
Distinctive nose; lots of wild herbs and charcoally quality, briar wood and bracken. Plenty of savoury cherry fruit. This has bold, sweet, and crunchy fruit on the palate with plenty of power and depth. Good character, and plenty of interest at the price, with the money off discount, a genuine bargain. Very good.
Monte Velho Tinto 2000 £4.99 Buy 2 save £2
A blend of native grapes, made by an Australian. It has sweet, ripe, much more orthodox appeal on the nose with a touch of interesting charcoal and salty, ozone quality on the nose. Earthy and robust fruit on the palate there is good ripeness and fleshiness, with a nice full palate and finishing with some style and quality. Very good.
Tuella Douro Tinto 1997 £4.99 Buy 2 save £2
Made with a blend of traditional Port grapes by Cockburn's. There's a nose of baked plum fruit that is gently leafy and quite concentrated and powerful. Palate is full, fruity and robust with jammy cherry fruit that is quite big, bold and sweet. Quite impressive, though not so distinctive as the previous two wines perhaps. Good/very good.
Duque de Viseu 1999, Dão £4.99
Again, a native blend (a great strength of Portuguese wines) including Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Roriz, another name for Spain's Tempranillo. This is sweet and ripe on the nose, though a little more subdued with just a hint of sweet, toffeed, glossy blue/black fruit. It is rather fine however, and on the palate it is smooth and nicely textured with an integrate palate of blackcurrant and bitter cherry fruit. Spicy and rich, there is some creamy oak on the finish of another impressive wine. Very good/very good indeed.
Chaminé 1999, Cortes de Cima, Alentejo £6.99 Buy 2 save £1
More of a schisty, charcoally, almost Northern Rhone Syrah quality here on the nose. Quite dense and plummy with hints of crisp blackcurrant. Dry palate of cassis and sweet, floral-edged, glossy black fruit. Nicely savoury, with good acidity and a good tannic structure. Very good/very good indeed.
Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir 1999 £7.99 Buy 2 save £2
I've tasted previous vintages of this that impressed more. Slightly baked plum and cherry pie nose, and the fruit on the palate is a little bit cooked tasting too. Just doesn't quite sing. Moderate.
California (Buy any 2 Californian wines save 15%)
Nathanson Creek California Red 2000 £3.99
Partner to the good value white reviewed in part I, this has ripe berry aromas before quite a powerful palate that is juicy and full with a sweet jaminess to the fruit but sufficient savoury, acidic, sour-plum bite to keep it fresh. Good/very good.
Durney Vineyards Estate Bottled Carmel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 £5.79
Clever old Majestic have unearthed some wonderful small parcels of maturing wines from Durney in the past, and here we have a Cabernet-dominated blend that also has small proportions of traditional Bordeaux varieties with 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and a touch of Malbec, all aged for 21 months in French oak, 35% of it new. That sounds like a £10 recipe, so a discounted price of £4.92 is pretty amazing. And the wine? Big sweet, toffee-fudge nose over cassis fruit. Lovely chewy, blue/black intensity and chocolaty tannins. Rich and ripe, this is balanced by good acids and a tannin structure. A star, and excellent.
Tyrrells Old Winery Pinot Noir 2000 £6.99 Buy 2 save £2
Just managed to dip a toe into the extensive range of Australian wines unfortunately. This is savoury and quite classy with a light strawberry and warming, autumn berry fruit quality. Rather nice palate, which is restrained with a good quality of fruit that is not too jammy. Sweet and silky textured. Very good.
Dessert and Champagne
Maury 1928 Solera, 50cl £14.99
Limited stocks of this astonishing little wine from the South of France. A blend of Grenache and Carignan, it is made by the Solera system, but on a base wine that is a cool 73 years old. It has a lightly-sherried nose, with notes of brown sugar, burnt orange, chocolate and deep, cherryish fruit. Smooth, thick and chocolaty on the palate, there is lovely sweetness, fullness and length. Creamy and delicious, this is very good indeed and must be worth including if you are putting together a festive mixed case.
Royal Tokay 5 Puttonyos 1996, 50cl £14.99 Special Offer £13.99
Sherried nose, notes of marmalade and seville orange, walnuts and raisins. Walnutty flavours too, with a toffeed sweet edge, then lush apricot, quince and caramel. There's a lovely broad caramel apple pastry sweetness on the mid-palate before good acidity. Very good/very good indeed.
Dom. Bourillon D'Orléans Vouvray Moelleux 1996 £8.99 intro offer will be £9.99
Light, sherbetty, crisp pear fruit, some herbal and green apple notes continue through to the palate, which is juicy and bright with an off-dry crispness and good acidity. Needs time. Good/very good.
Mission Hill Family Estate Vidal Icewine 1998, Reserve 37.5cl £19.99
Limited availability. Now that EC trading agreements allow some Canadian icewine into the UK, here's a chance to try one made from Vidal, a hybrid grape common in Canadian icewines, though more expensive bottles are often made from Riesling. This has a huge botrytis nose, laden with thick honey, butterscotch, fig, marmalade and deep, toasty aromas. On the palate it is rich, ripe and syrupy-textured with fat apricot fruit, lush sweetness but a fine, tingling edge of acidity keeping it fresh enough into a long, full finish. A full-blown unctuous experience, and very good indeed.
Brossault NV Champagne £12.99 Buy 6 save 20%
A few people had recommended this as a good, cheap Champagne on the UK Wine Forum, so I thought I'd try it. Herbal nose, with little notes of nettle, green bean and leafy fruit. Notes of lemon too. Very crisp and fresh on the palate with a soft. moderately persistent mousse and lots of herbal quality again. Crunchy and crisp though, with a savoury, dry appeal and good length. Good/very good.