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Majestic Christmas range: my recommendations
Out of around 100 wines tasted at the Christmas press tasting and other assorted forays into their range, here’s my selection of some of favourite wines from Majestic Wine’s current list. See also: Majestic Christmas press tasting: 36 white wines assessed; Majestic Christmas press tasting: 52 red wines assessed.


Domaine Servin Chablis 1999, Burgundy
Plenty of flavour here, in this archetypal Chablis. Nice crisp, lemony nose is fresh and bright, and leads to a palate with a lovely nutty balance. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon 1999, Burgundy
The full nose is deliciously mineralic and flinty, with a smoky edge. Good concentration on the palate, with an almost austere mineral character. Quite a powerful wine with great depth of flavour. Very good/excellent (£9.99)

Vincent Girardin Mersault 'Les Narvaux' 1999, Burgundy
Girardin is one of the new wave of high quality negociants that are currently making waves in Burgundy, and I was quite taken with this expensive but classy Mersault. It's fermented in barriques, a third of which are new, and this new oak contributes to the beautifully seductive, nutty, smoky nose, underpinned with tropical fruits and with a bready, mealy edge. The palate is rich, spicy and intense with a high acid core. Nicely balanced, and successfully adds a new world-style veneer to the classic white Burgundy character. Very good/excellent (£18.99)

Materne Haegelin Tokay Pinot Gris 1999, Alsace
I was really taken with the latest releases from Materne Haegelin, who offer authentic Alsace wines at very good prices. The Riesling Bollenberg and Gewürztraminer were both impressive, but my favourite was the beautifully poised Tokay Pinot Gris. The nose shows notes of smoky bacon and herbs, with a fresh, acidic lift, and leads to a richly textured palate that finishes dry. A full-on food wine. Very good/excellent (£7.99, buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Tim Adams Semillon 1998, Clare Valley, Australia
Tim Adams refuses to work with Chardonnay; instead, he makes superb Riesling and Semillon. A yellow/gold colour, this fine example of the latter has a striking nose of lemony fruit, coconut and herbs. Complex and savoury on the palate, with powerful fruit flavours and a savoury, herby edge. Unusual stuff: with great concentration and intensity, this is a super food wine. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Dr Hermann Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese 1996, Mosel Saar Ruwer
AP No 2 602 145 897 Incredible value for money: for the price of an industrial Chardonnay you get a serious expression of Riesling from a leading Mosel vineyard site. The complex, beautifully evolved nose shows notes of lime, honey and minerals. The palate is quite sweet, but with lovely balancing acidity. A full textured sweet wine that's perfect for sipping on its own. Very good/excellent (£5.99 Majestic, but buy 2 save £1 = £5.49) 

Foxen Chardonnay 1999 Santa Maria Valley, California
Just a short drive from the lovely coastal town of Santa Barbara, the Santa Maria Valley (along with neighbouring Santa Ynez) is a happening place. Foxen is one of the leading producers here, and their Chardonnay is a bit of a sexy beast, with a gorgeous, toasty, buttery nose. The palate is quite rich, but has a lovely savoury edge to it and is kept lively by good acidity. There's just a tiny tinge of herbacousness on the finish. Very good/excellent (£11.49, buy 2 Californian wines save 15% = £9.77)


Abbaye Sylva Plana Faugères La Closeraie 2000
Nicely packaged with an elegant label design, this is a tasty, authentic wine from the South of France. A concentrated red/purple colour it has a stunning smoky, meaty, 'roasted' nose, with a herby, complex palate that's finished off with dry, spicy tannins. A delicious savoury southern-style wine with bags of character. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin 'Clos Prieur' 1999, Burgundy
For those of you who must have Burgundy at Christmas, this was my favourite from a slightly disappointing selection. It's a very modern-styled wine, with quite a deep colour for a Pinot Noir. The interesting nose is smoky and rich, with some attractive toasty elements. The palate shows a great density of spicy fruit, with firm tannins. It's not the most expressive Pinot, but it's tasty in a full-on style, and will probably age quite nicely too. Very good+ (£18.99, reduced to £15.99)

Les Tourelles de Longueville 1997, Pauillac, Bordeaux
Again, for those of you who just have to have your Christmas Claret, here's what I'd choose. The second wine of Ch. Pichon Longueville Baron, like many 1997s it's drinking well now -- these were never wines for the long haul. The nose shows smoky blackcurrant fruit with rounded, chalky notes. There's some rich fruit on the palate and just enough complexity to justify the price tag. (£14.99 reduced to £12.99)

Tedeschi Fabriseria 1999, Rosso della Veronese, Veneto, Italy
A unusual but interesting red wine, made from a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep purple/black colour this concentrated, almost soupy wine has a herby, spicy nose. The palate is rich and lush, with ripe fruit and good acidity. There's plenty of tarry, sweet oak influence together with a lovely herbal complexity. Rich, modern and delicious. Very good/excellent (£11.49)

Banfi Chianti Classico Reserva 1998
Quite deep coloured, with an attractive spicy, herby, slightly medicinal nose. Good concentration of savoury cherry and plum fruit on the palate, with dry, spicy tannins and a dry finsih. A substantial, complex wine with great potential for further development. Very good/excellent (£9.99 reduced to £7.99)

Pirramimma Premium Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
An opaque red/purple colour, this has an exotic, ripe, lush nose with some new-oak-derived menthol notes. The thick, inky palate shows ripe, liquoricey, almost Port-like fruit. It's quite delicious in the full-throttled McLaren Vale style: very oaky, but the fruit can just about handle it. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Majestic, but buy 2 save £3 = £8.49)

Tatachilla Merlot 1999, Adelaide Hills
Adelaide Hills is one of Australia's 'cool climate' regions, and is developing a bit of a reputation for Merlot. From a single vineyard these grapes have been given a fairly traditional treatment (open top fermenters), and this is lovely stuff. A concentrated purple colour, the nose shows ripe, creamy blackcurrant fruit. The dense, bright fruit on the palate has a spicy edge. It's an attractive, modern-styled wine. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale
No apologies for recommending another Tatachilla wine. This one's a hugely dense red/black colour. The ripe, liquoricey nose has some menthol notes from new oak. The palate is super-concentrated with spicy oak, firm tannins and a touch of cinnamon. Tasty stuff, and relatively good value to boot. Very good/excellent (£11.99)

Maury 1928 Solera (50 cl)
This is a fortified wine made from red grapes (Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Carignan) but aged in a Sherry-like solera style: 600 litre barrels are used and each year a bit of wine is taken off and replaced with new wine. The original solera here at the Maury co-op was started in 1928, so each bottle may contain a few molecules from the 1928 mother wine. It's a deep red/brown colour with a delicious christmas cake and raisin nose, together with some caramel notes. The palate is dense and raisined, with coffee and treacle notes. Complex, sweet and not too sickly; a real treat. Only 840 bottles in stock, so be quick. Very good/excellent. (£14.99)

Finally, three crowd pleasers that would make good house wines now that they’ve been heavily discounted:

Rosemount Shiraz 2000
Fruit sourced from Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale and Mudgee; matured for 8 months in American oak. The enticing, sweet nose shows rich, sweet, spicy berry fruit. The palate is sexy and full, with a rich, spicy character: it manages to be both savoury and sweet at the same time. Very accessible. Very good+ (£7.49, buy 2 save £5 = £4.99)

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000
Quite a lot more evolved than when I last tasted this in the Summer. The rich nose has tropical fruit notes and some toasty oak influence. The savoury palate has hints of coffee-like richness along with tropical, figgy fruit. Full flavoured and tasty, but drink up soon. Apparently this hasn't been selling so well at the newer elevated price of £5.99, which probably explains why were not yet seeing the 2001 vintage on the shelves. Very good (£5.99, buy 2 save £4 = £3.99)

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1997/1998
I've tried the 1997, which is a delicious full flavoured Cabernet with a lovely mineralic, chalky edge to the cassis fruit that seems to be a trademark of Coonawarra. Not tried the 1998 yet, but this should be better. (£9.99 buy 2 get one free = £6.99)

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