(2019) How confusing that Majestic now offers three prices for this wine, ranging from £12.99 down to £8.99, depending on how many you buy and how often you buy it. Life used to be so simple. A pink made from Pinot Noir, it has a peachy colour and just slightly confected character on the nose. In the mouth there's some sweetness and plenty of summery fruit, to make it easy drinking (if a touch cloying for me). This is crowd-pleasing, but no £12.99's worth.
(2019) Super fresh, bright and elegant Sauvignon, a touch grassy, but beautifully clean and limpid, a real tangerine and lime brightness to the acidity, delicious and long, a really well balanced and pure expression.
(2019) A blend of 52% Shiraz with Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache, Primitivo, then 2% Viognier and 1% each of Nero d’Avola and Tempranillo. Aged in both American and French oak. Meaty, smoky, spicy, but a really solid fruit profile beneath, plenty of chariness. Has that little burnt note that I don’t really like personally, but I can see the appeal of the coffee-rich oak and fruit density. Stockist at time of review is for the previous vintage.
(2019) For not a huge amount more than the NV, a big step up in quality. This is 96% Pinot, a co-pressing with the Chardonnay and has four years on the lees. Only 5g/l dosage. Paler than the NV rosé, much more yeast and biscuit than the NV, a little bracken and truffle, but racy red fruits. The palate has beautiful limpid creaminess, a delicate fruit character, but has the creamy weight and sharply-focused acidity.
(2019) With 190g/l of residual sugar, this is a fully sweet, Botrytis-affected dessert wine, which comes in a half bottle. Fermentation and ageing was in a combination of new and old French oak barrels. Light gold in colour, gentle Botrytis aromas without any overt Sauvignon character. The palate is glycerine-rich, with plenty of honey and lime marmalade flavour, some apricotty fruit too, then a clean, zesty finish of lemon and lime.
(2019) Though I strenuously avoid 'tall poppy syndrom' - taking a swipe at a best-selling wine, just because it is best-selling - there is still a tendency to overlook big selling brands and wines that appear to be consistent vintage after vintage, in favour of always seeking something new. Villa Maria are synoymous with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and produce a number of different cuvées, so they do tend to the ubiquitous: it's rare to visit a major retailer and not see at least one of their wines on the shelves - and often at a promotional price. So how to honestly assess this vintage of the Cellar Selection SB? It's really very good: more in the tropical and ripe spectrum than out-and-out herbaceous, yet there is enough elderflower and pea-shoot character to pin-point its roots precisely. In the mouth the sweet, ripe fruit sits atop grapefruity acidity that is tangy and juicy, the wine has a bit of texture and mouthfeel too giving a sense of richness, and it is intense and vibrant. A model Marlborough Sauvignon, with style. £10.99 as part of a mixed six at Majestic. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) From Lodi in the northern central valley, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the blend is 79% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah and 1% of the red-fleshed Alicante Bouschet. Matured for 18 months in French oak, it comes from vineyards first planted 100 years ago, and is a big fruitcake-rich style of wine, overflowing with plum, spice and plump Agen prune, the palate delivering a bucketload of fruit, all given an edge by a keen raspberry acidity, the alcohol big and powerful and the finish coated with a sheen of oak.
(2019) Made for Majestic by James Kinglake of Domaine Begude, a domaine in the Limoux region of the Languedoc. Limoux majors on Chardonnay, both still and sparkling, and I guess some or most of the fruit comes from Limoux, but in fact this is an IGP Pays d'Oc, so some or all could have come from a wider area around. Fresh and unoaked, but limpid and with a creamy richness from lees ageing, this has a lightly buttery character but lovely balance and pitch, citrus and crisp apple against lightly nutty tones and always hints of a more exotic fruit ripeness. The finish is restrained and clear as a bell, in a stylish wine that is £8.99 as part of a mixed six bottles at Majestic.
(2018) In search of a moderately-priced wine to recommend for Christmas dinner 2019, I tried various rather disappointing Pinot Noir wines at around the £10 - £12 mark, but this unpretentious Côtes du Rhône hit the spot - and is only £8.99 on Majestic's familiar 'Mixed six' pricing. Based on Grenache blended with typical local varieties like Syrah and Mourvèdre, it has a buoyant, cherry and herb-filled nose with lots of lift and brightness. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and softly approachable despite 14% alcohol, but there's a creaminess and chocolate-touched depth before that fresh red fruit character and nip of rustic tannin kick in. Gentle enough for roast turkey, but fine for goose or even roast beef if that's your festive choice.
(2018) From Aconcagua Costa, the more coastal area of this central Chilean appellation, there's a twiggy, smoky note to this and a touch of sulphur on opening too, but the palate does go on to reveal a finer red fruit character, broadening to a fairly broad base of smokiness and plum, and a decent finish.