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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.