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Comparing notes: Spanish wines from Majestic
UK by-the-case merchant Majestic recently ran a free tasting weekend concentrating on some of their Spanish wines, and so I trotted off to the Twickenham branch to try a selection of nine of these wines. In order to compare notes, Paul Armstong did the same and sent me his report on the wines he tried at his local branch. With regard to calibrating our different rating systems, Paul reckons that his 'Good' equals my 'Very good’. However, of these nine wines we only tried four in common, so as a comparitive exercise it wasn’t a total success. But it’s still interesting to see the different ways we have described what were presumably fairly similar experiences (although there’s always the possibility of bottle variation). And although neither of us were completely blown away by any of these wines (with the exception, for me, of the superb Prado Enea from Muga), I was quite impressed by the value for money that they offer, especially at the offer price (regular price is given first, offer price in brackets applies when any six or more Spanish wines are purchased, in any combination). My notes are in brown, Paul’s in blue.

Muga Rioja Blanco 2000 £6.99 (£5.59)
Barrel fermented in new oak. Open, rounded, nutty nose with strong vanilla notes. The palate is rich and intense, with lemony acidity that offsets the nutty richness from the oak. Impressive, savoury white. Very good+ (JG)

Muga Rioja Blanco 2000
Lemon grass nose with a slight rasp. Palate quite peachy, ripe and crisp. Quite good/Good (PA)

Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Especial Blanco Rioja 1995 £8.49 (£6.79)
This is an odd, old fashioned wine. It’s a full goldedn colour and has a striking nose of lemon and butterscotch, with some nutty elements and a rounded, herbal character. It seems to be oxidised and has a bit of volatile acidity, too. The bold, full flavoured palate has firm acidity and is savoury and intense. Unusual stuff, and may appeal to some. Very good (JG)

Marques de Murrieta Blanco Reserva Especial 1995
Nose fat and buttery but also slightly mouldy which was off-putting. Quite a full appley flavour, just enough acidity, good intensity and finish. Quite good (would be more but for the nose) (PA)

Marqués de Riscal Rueda Blanco 2000 £5.49 (£4.39)
The bright, fresh, grassy nose is quite intense and Sauvignon-like. The full, rounded palate is quite full textured, and has a herbal quality. Tasty stuff. Very good+ (JG)

Marques de Riscal Rueda Blanco 2000
Nice lemon/herby nose. Initial mouthfeel fresh and crisp, but finishes a touch peppery and coarse. Quite good (PA)

Sierra de Siles Tempranillo, Arva Vitis, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, 1998 (£4.69) £3.75
There’s a pronounced medicinal edge to the distinctive, pure raspberry fruit on the nose. The palate shows rich, pure fruit and some tannin. It’s bold, delicious, full flavoured and very modern. Very good+ (JG)

Sierra de Siles Tempranillo 1998
Nose: gentle whiff of vanilla, slight lemon grass piquancy too. Palate: plummy, quite crisp entry, but a tadge cloying on the finish. Quite good (PA)

Abadia Retuerta Primacia 1999 Castilla y León £5.99 (£4.79)
Deep coloured, this has a distinctive, intense nose of ripe fruit with a chocolatey/herby edge. Quite rich on the palate, with an attractive herbal quality and more ripe fruit. Very modern, this is tasty stuff – in fact, it quite reminds me of a rich Chilean Cabernet in style. Very good+ (JG)

Viña Arisabel Rioja Joven 2000 £3.49 (£2.79)
A deep red/purple colour this has a modern nose showing cherryish fruit. The palate is brightly fruited (cherry, raspberry); appealing in a Beaujolais-like style. Good/very good (JG)

Berberana Rioja Reserva 1996 £7.99 (£6.39)
Deep red/purple colour with a brick red rim. The evolved nose shows herby fruit character (strawberry, red fruits). The palate is rich, with some chewy tannins and reasonable complexity. Nice stuff; the American oak isn’t too prominent. Very good (JG)

Berberana Tempranillo 1999 £3.99 (£3.19)
Modern fruity stuff, with attractive cherry/herbal character and good acidity. Good/very good (JG)

Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 1991 £19.99 (£15.99)
The colour is fading a little at the rim, but this is still quite a deep coloured wine. It has a complex nose of leather, tea leaf, herbs and old wooden boxes. The palate is rich and evolved, and just beginning to dry out a little. However, this is an impressive, complex wine that is drinking beautifully now. Very good/excellent (JG)

Vionta Albarino Rias Biaxas 2000 £8.99 (£7.19)
Herby/straw nose with just a touch of peach hiding in the background. Palate: peachy, crisp, lingering finish. Very clean, but just a touch one-dimensional and lacking in the aromatic complexity I hope for in an Albarino. Good (PA)

The Wilderness Monastrell Jumilla 2000 £4.49 (£3.59)
Nose: sweet, confected, grenache-like. Palate: fat, plummy, almost buttery-rich. A real crowd pleaser for those that like a bit of sweetness in their reds. I don’t, so Average/Quite good (PA)

Bodegas Palacio Castillo Rioja 1999 £5.99 (£4.79)
Colour: browning, thin. Nose: muted and mouldy. Palate: nicely mature and softened, but a touch unclean. Average/Quite good (PA)

Berberana Vina Alarde Rioja Gran Reserva 1995 £9.99 (£7.99)
Colour: maturing bricky. Nose: nice vanilla and smoke. Palate: mellow, smooth, silky mouthfeel. Enough acidity. Slightly short finish. Good/Very good (PA)

Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 1997 £9.99 (£7.99)
Nose: very muted. Is this a touch corked? Palate: nothing much at first, but there’s good fruit intensity hiding somewhere in here. With swilling, nice smoky plummy flavours. Good (PA)

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