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Majestic Wines 11/99

by Tom Cannavan

Part I - sparkling, 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, though many of these wines will also be available in other retailers both in the UK and abroad. There's a link to part II - red and fortified wines - at the bottom of this page.

See also part II - red and fortified wines

Prices are given in pounds sterling (£5=$8). The tasting was not blind.

Sparkling

Langlois (France) Crémant de Loire Brut NV - £7.99
Nutty, nettly nose with very crisp apple fruit. On the palate there is more of the same, but a pleasing autolysis rounds it out and the finish is quite savoury.

Oeil de Perdrix Champagne NV - £16.99
"Partridge's eye" is the literal translation, said to be the colour of this pale pink wine. It has a lovely peachy softness about the nose, with aromas of apple-sauce and some herbal nuances. On the palate the flavours are bready and rich with a mouthfilling mousse and texture and a long, just off-dry finish. Lovely.

Pol Roger Vintage Champagne 1990 - £34.99
(buy two and price drops to £27.99 until January!)
Big, butter, yeasty, biscuity nose. Loads of complex fruit aromas of dried fruits, peaches and apricots and all the time that broad base of brioche-like roundness filling it out. Rich mousse. Plenty of figgy fruit and a fine core of acidity. Elegant and long. Very good indeed and built to last.

Whites

Pasqua (Italy) Chardonnay Puglia NV - £2.99
Very lemony and fresh with hints of buttery richness. Palate is juicy and citrussy and there is reasonable length. Very good at the price.

Selciatella (Italy) Frascati Superiore 1998 - £4.99
Green tinged with fresh, zippy aromas of citrus and a hint of nutty, leesy quality. Decent fruit and balanced, not too tart. Good.

Paul Zinck (France, Alsace) Sylvaner 1998 - £4.99
Flowery and delicate nose, some grapy qualities, but fresh and light. Lime and butter on the palate and some spice, this is fairly neutral but pleasant enough.

Paul Zinck (France, Alsace) Gewürztraminer 1998 - £7.99
Very spicy nose, lots of cinammon and ginger then orange fruit. More orange on the palate, with tart grapefruit acidity showing up in the finish.

Domaine Carillon (France, Burgundy) Chablis 1998 - £4.99
Quite a buttery nose, a little fatty, with apple fruit. Quite tart, there is a lot of green apple acidity and it is nettly and fresh.

Domaine Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru Les Forêt 1998 - £9.99
Nice mineral-rich nose with some creamy apple fruit. The palate has good steely presence with tart fruit softened by some buttery flavours. Nicely focused. Good.

Domaine Moreau Naudet Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 1998 - £9.99
Quite a sweet nose, with spice and minerals and pear fruit. Palate is very intense. Good citrus fruit, full and concentrated, quite spicy and good length. Very good.

La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 1996 - £5.99 per half bottle
Lovely nose. Buttery herbs and peaches, some sharper pear fruit. palate has excellent delineation of orchard fruits and a fine minerally quality with lemony acidity in the long finish. Very good indeed.

State Domain Trier (Germany) Deutschherrenkopfchen Riesling Kabinett 1992 - £4.99
Beautifully developed petrolly nose. Nice lemon fruit and a little leafy aroma. Palate is off-dry with decent fruit. This is maybe a little tired, but has plenty of character for the money.

Ruppertsberg (Germany) Riesling 1996 - £4.49
Vivid nose of marzipan/almonds and butter. Not quite so generous on the palate where lemon and lime fruit, pear-skin and a little mineral note are evident, but the whole thing is quite lean and sharp. Decent length. Good.

(Germany) Serriger Vogelsang Riesling Auslese 1989 - £5.99
Brilliant nose. High, waxy, petrolly aromas and super-ripe melon, pear and lemon. medium-sweet, quite unctuous, there's a lovely core of sharp pear and apple fruit, yet a creaminess and beautifully integrated acidity. Excellent and superb value, probably my pick of the tasting.

Oyster Bay (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 - £6.49
Quite a pungent green bean quality, asparagus and herbaceous, grassy notes. There is tropical fruit too, with pineapple and lychee. Cool fruit on the palate, not quite so powerful as the nose, more gooseberry and grapefruit acidity into a good, long finish. Very nice indeed.

Nautilus (NZ) Sauvignon Blanc 1998 - £9.99
Crisp, aromatic nose. Lychee and grapefruit and a smoky quality too. Very attractive. Palate is ripe and packed with tropical fruit but there's also a powerful acidity. A forceful style, showing the clean, ripe quality of the vintage.

Nautilus (NZ) Chardonnay 1998 - £9.99
Attractive, lightly-toasted nose of nutty peach fruit. Complex nuances of walnut and cinnamon. In the mouth it shows restraint with a fine citrus profile giving a steely core to fatter, buttery, peach and apricot fruit. Long spicy finish. Very good.

Penfolds (Australia) Rawsons Retreat 1998 - £4.49
Nice ginger spice notes on the nose, some sweet floral elements. Palate shows plenty of ripe fruit. This is balanced and makes for very nice drinking.

Amberley Estate (Australia) Semillon 1998 - £8.99
Wax, butterscotch and masses of toasty oak on the nose with masses of ripe fruit: peaches, limes and creamy flavours. Very concentrated and plenty of acidity. Long. Delicious and has the fruit and structure to age.

Amberley Estate (Australia) Sauvignon Blanc 1999 - £8.99
Very sweet and ripe exotic fruit on the nose - all mangoes, lychees and pineapple. Quite a dry palate after all that flash, plenty of lemony acidity keeps it tangy, yet good length. Good.

Capel Vale (Western Australia) Riesling 1998 - £7.49
Second tasting of this in a week. Lovely wax and lime nose, with nuances of butter and herbs, a little petrolly development. Palate is rich and full, but clean as a whistle with limes again, melon and a long, pure finish. Very good.

Capel Vale (Western Australia) Verdelho 1998 - £7.99
And second tasting of this. Muted nose, then a creaminess, some floral notes and subdued but toasty oak. Plenty of grapefruity acidity and full-bodied. Very nice, though in an understated style. Better with food I think.

Bethany (Australia) Riesling 1998 - £5.49
Not so aromatically complex as the Capel Vale, but limes and spice are there. Cool, classy palate. Medium bodied, balanced acidity.

Melbourne Wine Company (Australia) Riesling 1998 - £5.99
Quite herbaceous. Leafy, nettly aromas then buttery lime fruit. This grows on you, seeming quite odd at first, but it is rich and savoury and has good length. Bravely, these wines come in a crown (beer bottle) cap.

Melbourne Wine Company (Australia) Chardonnay 1998 - £6.99
Fresh apples, herbs and nettles on the nose. Palate is crisp and clean with orchard fruits and some oak showing through. Spicy finish and good length, chewy and food-friendly.

Kangarilla Road (Australia) Chardonnay 1999 - £7.99
Pale colour and a yeasty, buttery nose of soft peachy fruit, ginger and charry oak. The palate is quite rich with just a hint of residual sugar, but plenty of fruit and sweet oak to please the palate. Nice quaffing wine.

Sweet

Bodegas Hidalgo (Spain) Pedro Ximénez Viejo Napoleon Sherry - £7.99
Nose of caramel, marmalade oranges, sweet vanilla and raisins. Rich and opulent palate with super-sweet flavours of raisins and sultanas soaked in kirsch. Delicious and not too cloying. A bargain.

Coteaux du Layon (France, Loire) Moulin Touchais 1986 - £9.49
Good to have a chance to taste this is a previous bottle had been corked. A slightly sulphury nose disapates to reveal green apples, grass, slate and minerals. The palate is now medium-sweet with an attractive peach and nectarine fruitiness and moderate acidity. Balanced and a nargain for a mature dessert wine.

Royal Tokaji Company (Hungary) Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 1993 - £13.99 (50cl)
Oxidised nose of over-ripe pear skins, honey, figs and herbal notes. Palate is luscious and buttery with creamy pear and melon fruit, quince and notes of pineapple and caramel. Sweet and nicely balanced by fresh acidity. Very good.