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Majestic press tasting, Summer 2001 


Part 1 The Whites
Majestic Wine Warehouses
are the UK's foremost by the case retailer, with more than 90 branches and an impressive range of wines. At the recent press tasting unveiling the new summer 2001 range I tasted some 120 wines, and in true anorak fashion, I'm publishing full tasting notes together with my ratings. One of the strengths of the Majestic range is that they stock a reasonable selection of grower's wines, some of which are available only in selected branches -- this is because of the small quantities available. Although some customers may find this frustrating, I think it's a good policy, and adds greatly to the interest of the range. Majestic are also to be congratulated for their incredibly cheap but very good German selections. My criticisms? Coverage of the Rhône is a bit patchy (but which multiples get this right anyway?), and the mainstay of the Majestic's Alsace range is the very disappointing line up from Bott-Geyl. Overall, though, I was pretty impressed.

Because of the number of wines involved, the notes are published in three installments: the whites, the reds, and the pick of the bunch. (See also the pick of the bunch: my selection of 15 of the most interesting tipples; Part 2 The Reds)


Château La Touche Muscadet Sur Lie 2000
Youthful, modern nose with a strong boiled sweets component. On the palate this is bone dry and crisp with some nice character. Muscadet will never be the most strongly flavoured wine, but this might be worth a pop for a good food accompaniment, and it may develop with a year or so bottle age. Good/very good (£4.49)

Jean-Charles Borgnat Quincy 2000
Fresh, youthful boiled sweets nose with some herbaceous fruit. Dry, crisp palate with some grapefruit character. May develop. Good/very good (£6.49, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Paul Thomas Sancerre Chavignol 2000
Attractive herby, grassy nose leads to a palate that is fresh, clean and grassy. Good food wine. Good/very good (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Domaine Lalou Sancerre 2000
(available September 2001) Clean and fresh, this is currently very youthful, with some grassy character. Judgement reserved. Good/very good (£8.49)

Alain Gueneau Sancerre La Guiberte 2000
A grower with 14 ha of vines. Clean, youthful nose with herby, grassy notes. Relatively full palate suggests this may develop some interesting character. Very good (£8.99)

Claude Riffault Sancerre Les Boucauds 2000
Clean, fresh, grassy nose with a bit of boiled sweets 'tanky' character. Crisp and balanced on the palate; full flavoured and with good potential. Good/very good (£8.99)

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 a relief 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)

Domaine Vacheron Sancerre 2000
Very tanky boiled sweets nose leads to a full, rich, rounded palate. Currently tastes a bit confected but may become much better with some time in bottle. Good/very good (£9.99)

Domaine Pabiot Pouilly-Fumé 2000
Grassy and herby with a savoury, high acid palate. Clean and fresh. Good/very good. (£6.99)

Domaine des Rabichattes Grebet Père et Fils Pouilly-Fumé 2000
Albert Grebet owns a 14 ha estate in Pouilly. Nice clean, fresh grassy nose leads to a lean, taut palate. Good/very good (£8.99)

Domaine Bourillon D'Orléans Vouvray Demi Sec 1999
There's a bit of that Chenin 'wet wool' character on the nose, and the palate is rich textured but slightly unusual. Not bad, and might be worth tucking away for a few years. Good/very good (£5.99, buy two save £1 = £5.49)

Cuvée de Richard NV Vin de Table Francais
90% Ugni Blanc/10% Colombard, this is Majestic's concession to cheap and cheerful plonk for tightwads. Actually, it's not bad, just a bit neutral. Modern, crisp, clean and refreshing, it's the ideal party white. Good (£2.99)

Les Chapelières Sauvignon 2000, Vin de Pays d'Oc
Made from the co-op at Olonzac, this modern-style Sauvignon has a bright fruity nose with an attractive spicy edge. The palate shows some peardrop character and is nicely rounded. Good/very good (£4.29, buy 2 save £1 = £3.49)

Vivian Ducourneau VdP des Côtes du Gascogne
The fresh slightly grassy nose has a pleasant herbaceous character. The palate is fruity and quite full. A glugger. Good/very good (£3.99, buy 2 save £1 = £3.49)

Laroche Chardonnay Grande Cuvée 'L' 1999, Vin de Pays d'Oc
Chablis producer Michel Laroche has produced a wine with more flavour than in previous vintages: the rich, full, oaky nose leads to a lean, savoury, spicy palate. Quite attractive but the oak is pretty prominent. Very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £2 = £4.49)

Louis Latour St-Véran Les Deux Moulins 1999
Of the big Burgundy negociants Louis Latour is widely regarded to have the most attractive bottles but the worst wines. However, this one's a good-un. Lovely fruity nose with lemon and citrus notes. It's quite light and fresh on the palate, clean and well balanced, lemony and delicate. Very good (£7.99 buy 2 save £3 = £6.49)

Louis Latour Auxey Duresses 1999
I was disappointed by this wine which seemed a little dirty and musty on the nose in two different bottles. Judgement reserved. (£11.99, buy 2 save £4 = £9.99)

Louis Latour Mersault 1er Cru Château de Blagny 1998
Lean, lemony, nutty nose leads to a clean, fresh palate with a hint of complexity. Disappointing for the price. It's nice enough, but I was expecting more for £20. Very good (£19.99, buy 2 save £6 = £16.99)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Blanc 1999
The attractive smoky, toasty oak nose is nicely rounded. The palate is fresh and clean with some minerally complexity. Quite oaky at the moment, this needs some time to come round. Good price. Very good (£19.99, 15% off any two bottles of Blain or Fontaine Gagnard wines = £16.99)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet La Maltroie 1999
Complex, full nose shosing toasty, smoky character. Lean and taut on the palate, but with some nutty, savoury complexity. Good stuff. Very good+ (£22.99, 15% off any two bottles of Blain or Fontaine Gagnard wines = £18.95)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet La Boudriotte 1999
The nose shows lovely smoky complexity and hints of fresh baked bread. The palate is taut with relatively high acidity. Youthful but with good potential for the future. Very good+ (£22.99, 15% off any two bottles of Blain or Fontaine Gagnard wines = £18.95)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet La Grande Montagne 1999
Lovely nose with a bit of herby, cabbagey complexity, and smoky and mineral notes. The rich palate is still taut and youthful and there's relatively high acidity. Nice balance between the fruit and the oak. Very good+ (£22.99, 15% off any two bottles of Blain or Fontaine Gagnard wines = £18.95)

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)

Bott-Geyl Tokay Pinot Gris 1990, Alsace
Lean, minerally, slightly spicy nose. Soft, ripe, almost spritzy palate with high acidity. Very youthful tasting: lets hope this develops some character because it's currently a bit disappointing. Good (£8.99)

Bott-Geyl Riesling Grafenreben 1998, Alsace
The lemony, boiled sweets nose has an odd herby character. The palate is fresh, bright and spritzy. Needs time? Good/very good (£8.99)

Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Beblenheim 1999, Alsace
The herby, floral nose has a piercing acid component, which is followed up with a luscious, soft, fat palate. Very primary and a bit simple. Good/very good (£8.99)

Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Sonnenglanz Vieilles Vignes 1999, Alsace
Intense herby/floral nose leads to an almost unbelievably soft, fat palate with rich grapy character. Unbalanced? Good/very good (£13.99)

Bott-Geyl Tokay Pinot Gris Grand Cru Sonnenglanz Vendanges Tardives 1997, Alsace
Muted grapey/spicy nose with a hint of smokiness. Rich textured palate has a sugary, grapey character. Good concentration, but a bit sickly and without the sort of complexity you might expect from a wine costing this much. Very good (£15.99 for 50 cl)

Bott-Geyl Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Sonnenglanz Vendanges Tardives 1997, Alsace
Lovely aromatic grapey/floral nose with a herby, spicy undercurrent. Rich, very sweet and full-textured on the palate. Soft and a little bit too sweet to be balanced. Very good (£16.99 for 50 cl)


La Carega Satori Lugana 2000
A varietal Trebbiano, this is a pretty neutral white with a modern nose of clean fruit and boiled sweets, with a youthful, rounded palate. Good+ (£4.49, buy 2 save £1 = £3.99)

Coffele Soave Classico Superiore 2000
Quite youthful, this is a modern, clean white with some waxy, nutty notes on the palate. Good+ (£6.49, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Alois Ladeger Pinot Blanco 2000, Alto Adige
Fresh, modern and clean, this Pinot Gris has an attractive, spicy nose that leads to a rounded palate. Very young still, and hasn't yet developed too much character. Good/very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Banfi Pinot Grigio Toscana 2000
Lovely grapey, fruity nose leads to a clean, modern, full flavoured palate. Nice stuff. Good/very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Villa Lanata Gavi di Gavi Late Picked 2000
This late harvest style white shows are full, honeyed and slightly oxidised nose. The rounded palate has bold flavours and quite low acidity. Different. Good/very good (£8.49, buy 2 save £3 = £6.99)


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)


Lindemans Cawarra Semillon/Chardonnay 2000
Fresh clean and fruity with good balance, this is a flawless example of commercial wine making. Tremendous deal at the offer price of £2.99. Plonk has never tasted so good. Good/very good (£3.99, buy 2 save £1 = £2.99)

Colridge Estate Chardonnay 2000
Ripe fruit and smoky oak on the nose gives way to a soft, rounded fruity/buttery palate. Lovely for the price: a good commercial Chardonnay. Good/very good (£3.49)

Ironstone Semillon Chardonnay 1999, Western Australia
Second label of Cape Mentelle. This is quite an unusual, strongly flavoured white with a powerful smoky/cabbagey nose and intense palate with a vegetal edge. Savoury and full, some will like this but I find it a bit off-putting. Very good (£6.49, buy 2 save £2 = £5.49)

Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon 2000, Western Australia
One of my favourite Aussie whites, the newly released 2000 vintage 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. A classic. Very good/excellent (£9.49)

Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier 2000
Yalumba are Australia's Viognier specialists, and this inexpensive example shows good 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)

Tatachilla Sauvignon Semillon 1999, McLaren Vale
There's nothing wrong with this wine, but it lacks a bit of soul. Fresh, clean and modern in style with a nice grassy/lemony character. Good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Tatachilla 'Breakneck Creek' Chardonnay 2000
Full yellow gold colour, with a lovely, rich smoky/buttery nose. On the palate it is rich and full flavoured. Good value. Very good (£4.49, buy 2 save £1 = £3.99)

Tatachilla Chardonnay 2000, McLaren Vale
Deep coloured, this has a classy oaky nose with some lemon and smoky notes. The full flavoured, balanced palate shows well integrated oak and high acidity. Very attractive and food compatible. Very good+ (£6.49, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Yalumba Barossa Chardonnay 2000
Yellow/gold colour with a taut, smoky oak nose. Lovely full, spicy/savoury palate with some bready notes, held in check by high acidity. Nice wine. Very good+ (£6.49, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2000 McLaren Vale
Classy lean, bready nose. Savoury and restrained on the palate with high acidity. This may develop. Very good (£7.99)

Bethany Riesling 2000 Barossa Valley
Lovely, intense citrus nose but completely ruined by the odd chemical/herbaceous note on the palate. Weird stuff, and actually quite unpleasant. Poor (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

New Zealand

Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2000
Modern nose showing boiled sweets character; slightly confected. Clean, fresh palate, but lacks real character. Perhaps it needs time? Judgement reserved. (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Delegats Reserve Chardonnay 1999
Powerful nose of ripe fruit and classy, smoky oak. The buttery, rich, oaky palate is quite intense and shows soft ripe fruit, but there's plenty of new oak, so avoid if you are oak averse. A bit of a full-flavoured monster. Very good+ (£8.99, buy 2 save £3 = £7.49)

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)


Vistasur Sauvignon 2000, Chile
Fresh, herby gooseberry nose is very modern. Ripe and rich textured on the palate. Quite attractive; this would make a good summer sipper. Very good (£4.79, buy 2 save £1 = £4.29)

Santa Rita Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2000, Chile
Fresh grassy nose leads to a crisp, clean, refreshing palate with clean fruity character. A good example of this grape. Very good (£6.49 buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Santa Rita Reserve Chardonnay 2000, Maipo, Chile
Shy nose with some notes of lemon and toasty oak. Palate is taut and fruity with careful oaking. Very youthful and savoury. Good/very good (£6.49, buy 2 save £2 = £5.49)

Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay 1998, Casablanca Valley, Chile
A rich yellow/gold colour, with a powerful cabbagey nose: rich and very attractive. The soft, rich palate has real depth of flavour, showing powerful fruit and well judged oak. Very good/excellent (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)


Alamos Chardonnay 1999, Catena, Argentina
Second label of Argentinian stars Catena, this has an attractive, expressive nose showing bready, nutty, toasty character. The palate is classy and powerful with well integrated oak and a buttery, spicy character. Not for the oak averse, but very tasty. Very good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)


State Domaine Trier Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 1992
The intense lime-laden nose is quite full and complex, leading to a palate showing lemon and apple notes with high acidity. Very powerful and a great bargain, but the acidity is a tiny bit crude. Very good (£4.49, buy 2 save £1 = £3.99)

Christoffel Berres Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1993
Lovely rich honey and lime nose. The palate shows bold, intense lime, spice, honey and apple flavours, with nice balance between the residual sugar and high acidity. Great bargain. Very good+ (£4.99, introductory price, will be £5.99 from September)

Dahmen-Kuhnen Mehrinhger Zellerberg Riesling Auslese 1998
Youthful, muted minerally nose gives way to a bold palate showing intense spice, lime and honey notes. Again, shows good balance between the acidity and the residual sugar, and shows potential for development. A bargain. Very good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

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)

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)

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

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