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Majestic Summer 2001 range:
the pick of the bunch

Of the 130 or so wines tasted at the recent Majestic Wine press tasting, here's my selection of 15 of the most interesting tipples. 

Sancerre Vieilles Vignes Domaine Fournier
Majestic have an impressive number of grower's Sancerres on offer this summer, and this example from Domaine Fournier is my favourite. Far too many wines from this appellation are lean, acidic and neutral, so it's always nice to find one with some flavour. The boldly herby, grassy nose has an attractive smoky edge to it, and the full palate is nicely rounded with great balance. Very good/excellent (£9.49)

Fontaine Gagnard Criots Bâtard-Montrachet 1998
At £50 a pop, this white Burgundy had better be pretty impressive -- and it is. A full yellow/gold colour, with a stunningly exotic nose showing complex notes of peach, spice, boiled cabbage, herbs and wood smoke. The rich, spicy palate shows sweet fruit and great depth. A powerful, impressive wine. Excellent (£49.99)

Muga Rioja Blanco 2000
A blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia from traditional Rioja producer Muga. This is a deliciously intense white wine showing prominent but careful oaking and lean, lemony and slightly nutty fruit on the palate. Very attractive. Very good+ (£6.99)

Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon 2000, Western Australia
One of my favourite Aussie whites, the newly released 2000 vintage of this classic doesn't disappoint. The lovely intense grassy and gooseberry nose has a lime fruit edge, and the palate shows zippy acidity and a fresh bright character. Very good/excellent (£9.49)

Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier 2000
Cheap Viognier usually sucks, but not always. Yalumba are Australia's Viognier specialists, and this inexpensive example shows impressive varietal character. The peachy, floral nose shows tropical fruit and spice elements. The lovely rich textured, full flavoured palate still manages to keep the delicacy that's a hallmark of the best Viogniers. Very good+ (£5.99)

Peter Scherf Waldracher Krone Auslese 1989
When you see a 12 year old wine selling for six quid, you'd expect something to be seriously wrong with it. Well there isn't. Instead, this wine has a sensational nose with refined honey and lemon notes, and a bit of petrolly character. On the palate it is bold flavoured, with more lemon and honey notes and a rich texture. Very good/excellent (£5.99)

Château Giot Costières du Nimes 2000
A youthful deep red/purple colour, this is an impressive Southern French red with bags of character. The intense smoky/herby nose leads to a richly fruited palate with some tannic structure to it. Very good+ (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Domaine du Pégau 'Plan Pégau' NV
Don't be put off by the fact that this second wine from Châteauneuf producer Pégau is non-vintage: it's an excellent wine in its own right. A youthful colour, this is rich and savoury with an attractive herby/medicinal nose and complex meaty notes. The attractive palate shows soft, herby fruit. Very good+ (£6.99)

Sicila Accademia del Sole Calatrasi Sangiovese Syrah IGT 1999
This characterful red is a super bargain at less than a fiver. A blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Syrah, it has a wonderful nose of ripe fruit with a menthol and caramel edge. The rich, spicy, oaky palate has great concentration, and tasted blind you could be forgiven for thinking this was a £10 wine. Very good+ (£4.99; buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

La Casetta de Ettore Rignetta Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 1997
Ripasso is the term that describes the winemaking trick where the wine is beefed up a bit by fermenting it on top of the gunk left from making Amarone and Recioto (wines made from air dried grapes). This deep coloured wine has a nose of sweet herby cherry fruit with caramel undertones. The palate shows dense, sweet, herby fruit. Impressive concentration and approachable now. The 1998 vintage, also stocked by Majestic, is similar in character but the 1997 just edges it in my book. Very good/excellent (£7.49)

Vigne Le Coste Cornacchia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1998
An opaque purple/black colour this has an attractive herby nose with tea-like notes and sweet fruit. The lovely complex palate has great concentration, combining dense, powerful flavours with an appealing softness. Very good/excellent (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Banfi Rosso de Montalcino 1997
Although Rosso de Montalcino is the little brother to the famed Brunello de Montalcino, this supposedly 'lesser' wine is lovely wine in its own right. The enticing spicy/herbal nose is taut and expressive with tar and leather notes. The medium-bodied palate shows savoury, spicy fruit. Complex and delicious. Very good/excellent (£9.99, buy 2 save £5 = £7.49)

Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 McLaren Vale
The Tatachilla wines are all pretty impressive in their full-on, no-holds-barred style, but the Cabernet is probably my favourite. This opulent Cabernet is an opaque purple/black colour with a full nose of blackcurrants and herbs. The dense palate shows sweet blackcurrant fruit and some minerality. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Bockenheimer Grafenstück Beerenauslese 1998
I was quite taken by this wine: it's not powerful or particularly fine, but for less than four quid for a botrytised dessert wine it offers stunning value for money. The soft, sweet grapey nose shows notes of apricots and honey. The palate is grapey and soft, perhaps a tiny bit syrupy, but shows genuine botrytis character (spice and apricot notes), and has just enough acidity to hold it together. Buy this by the case for sipping chilled on long summer evenings! Very good+ (£3.99 for 37.5 cl)

Cloudy Bay Pelorus 1996
I'm a big fan of the fizz from Cloudy Bay: forget the hyped Sauvignon Blanc, I think this is actually their best wine. The full, attractive toasty/bready nose has a ripe fruity edge, and leads to a refined, biscuitty palate. Full flavoured and quite delicious. Very good/excellent (£15.99, buy 2 save 20% = £12.79)

Contact details: see the Majestic Wine website to find your closest branch, or order online.

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