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Majestic Wine Warehouse's winter range 2002 press tasting

October 8th 2002

Part 1 The whites

Most wine journalists have a different approach to me. They attend the same press tastings as I do, but they write up only the wines that they recommend. This is partly a space issue (most publications simply don't have room for an exhaustive write up covering hundreds of wines) but also a philosophical one (don't dwell on the negative, just the positive). I'm not saying that they are wrong to do this, but I like to do things differently. My anorak philosophy is to write up just about every wine that I taste. My attitude to my readers is less 'trust me, I'm the great expert', and more, 'this is what I thought, and I hope you'll find this information useful.' Because of this philosophy, write ups like this aren't going to be a tidy, easily packaged article, for which I apologize. I hope, though, that you'll find the combination of tasting notes and ratings useful in guiding you to the sorts of wines that you'll enjoy.

Because of the number of wines, I'm writing this Majestic wine press tasting up in five parts. First, the white wines, then the reds (in two parts, French and the rest), and then the fizz and fortifieds, plus separate recommended mixed cases (chosen from all these wines). The current offer period (for special offers referred to here) is November 4th 2002 until 27th January 2003. 

Croce del Moro Verdicchio 2001, Italy
Striking nutty nose with a hint of lifted acidity, leading to a rich, softly textured palate with lots of nutty fruit. Interesting and very good value. Very good+ £3.99

Domaine Fournier Mentou Salon 2000 Loire
Smoky edge to the crisp, herby nose. Full flavoured, grassy, slightly herbaceous nose with good acidity. Quite a rich wine with some interest. Very good+ (£7.99, buy 2 save 1 =£7.49)

Domaine Bourillon D’Orleans Argilo Vouvray Sec 2000, Loire
Unusual waxy-fruited wine with high acid palate and a dry finish. Good balance and some typical Chenin Blanc varietal character. Very good (£7.99 buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Domaine Caillaubert Sauvignon 2001, Vin de Pays des Côtes du Gascogne
Very assertive crisp grassy fruit on the nose: lovely and aromatic. Fruity, grassy palate shows lots of Sauvignon character. Brilliant value for money. Very good+ (£4.99 buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Michel Laroche Chardonnay 2001 Vin de Pays d’Oc
Lovely rich nutty style of Chardonnay with a nice texture, peachy fruit and well judged oak. Very good+ (£4.99 buy 2 save £2 = £3.99)

Domaine Caillaubert Chardonnay/Sauvignon 2001, Vin de Pays des Côtes du Gascogne
Bright, assertive fruit on the nose leads to a full flavoured, fruity palate with contrast between the rich textured Chardonnay character and the grassy Sauvignon edge. Very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Gérard Bertrand Viognier Collection 2001 Vin de Pays d’Oc
Stunning varietally true nose is quite pretty with aromatic, peachy, floral-edged fruit. The palate shows a lovely richness of fruit with the relatively soft texture well supported by acidity. Very good/excellent (£5.99 buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Domaine Lafarge 2001 Côtes du Roussillon Blanc
Really striking rich aromatic nose with a toasty, herby edge. Thick textured, full flavoured palate is quite savoury and tasty. Very good+ (£5.99 buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Cave Cooperative Prissé Maçon Prissé 2001
Attractive savoury, nutty nose. Nicely weighted chunky, savoury nutty palate with a hint of butterscotchy richness. Fresh, crisp and impressive for the price. Very good+ (£5.49 buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Cave des Viticulteurs de Chablis Chablis 2001
Slightly smoky, nutty nose is very appealing. Assertive acidity on the minerally palate. A tiny bit austere, but full flavoured. Pretty good for entry level Chablis. Very good (£6.49 buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Domaine Servin Chablis 2001
This savoury, minerally, herby wine is full flavoured with high acidity. Tasty, but needs food. Very good (£7.49 buy 2 save £1 = £6.99)

Vincent Girardin Bourgogne Blanc 2000
Attractive smoky, minerally nose shows some complexity. The palate is full flavoured and quite assertive with good acid and a slightly spicy finish. An impressive minerally white. Very good+ (£7.49 buy 2 save £1 = £6.99)

Vincent Girardin Rully Blanc 1er Cru Les Cloux 2001
Lovely smoky, herby complexity on the nose with some nutty fruit. The palate is richly textured and quite complex: tight knit with good acidity. A brilliant example of Rully that is not too oaky, letting the minerality and fruit dominate. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Vincent Girardin St Aubin 1er Cru Murgers Des Dents de Chien 2000
Beguiling herby, minerally nose with some toasty oak. Rich, full flavoured palate shows plenty of new oak (vanilla notes) but also some taut nutty fruit. Very good/excellent (£13.99)

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand
A simple, fruit-forward style, this shows very forward blackcurrant and gooseberry fruit on the nose – sweet and rounded. Lots of rounded fruit on the palate, in a forward, appealing style. Very good+ (£6.99 buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand
Rich gooseberry/grassy nose leads to a vivid, intense high-acid palate. This is currently very youthful and fresh with a touch of liminess. Textbook Sauvignon. Very good+ (£8.99 buy 2 save £3 = £7.49)

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2000, Marlborough, New Zealand
Herby fruit on the nose with a toasty edge. Rich textured herby, nutty, toasty palate. Lots of character here and quite intense. Very good+ (£7.99 buy 2 save £4 = £5.99)

Montes Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Curico Valley, Chile
Full flavoured fruity style with a grassy edge. A tiny bit confected but still nice. Very good (£5.99 Buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Cono Sur Viognier 2002, Chile
Floral, limey, slightly chemical nose. Fruity limey palate is confected. OK (£5.99 buy 2 save £1.50 = £5.24)

Cono Sur Gewürztraminer 2002, Chile
Striking, almost sickly confected nose with some floral, rose petal character. The palate is confected with high acidity: a caricature of Gewürztraminer. OK (£5.99 buy 2 save £1.50 = £5.24)

Amberley Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Margaret River, Western Australia
Unusual herby, grassy nose leads to a crisp palate with a herbaceous edge. Quite unusual. Very good (£7.99 buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Pirramimma Hillview Chardonnay 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Striking intense, rich nose with toasty, savoury character and some bold herby fruit. Intense herby, savoury palate is quite striking. An unusual wine. Very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Houghton Chardonnay 2002, Western Australia
Focused, richly textured wine with savoury, herby fruit and well judged oak. Spoiled slightly by a trace of tinned pea character hinting at some unripeness. Good/very good (£6.49 buy 2 save £3 = £4.99)

Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2002, McLaren Vale, Australia
Really nicely balanced Chardonnay with some peachy fruit, lemony acidity and well integrated oak. Rich but attractive. Very good+ (£7.99 buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2001, Margaret River, Western Australia
Lovely nose of rich, toasty, nutty fruit: forward and attractive. The palate is rich and intense with spicy, nutty complexity and well integrated oak. A classy Chardonnay with a seamless texture. Very good/excellent (£9.99)

Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling 2001, Clare Valley, Australia
Very intense, rich limey nose with some floral complexity. Concentrated fruity palate with lots of intense, limey flavour and a slightly spicy edge. A brilliant example of the Clare Riesling style. Very good/excellent (£6.99)

Rosemount GTR Gewürztraminer Riesling 2001, Australia
Lime, honey and spice nose leading to a richly-textured palate with considerable residual sugar – it’s a semi-sweet style. Finishes drier than you’d expect. A well made granny pleaser. Good/very good (£5.99 buy 3 save 33% = £3.99)

Amberley Estate Semillon 2000, Margaret River, Western Australia
Taut, herby nose with smoky background notes. Concentrated savoury palate with some toastiness: rich, herbal character. An interesting savoury dry white. Very good+ (£8.99 buy 2 save £2 = £7.99)

Tim Adams Semillon 1999, Clare Valley, Australia
Complex lemony/toasty nose is quite fresh and bright. Rich, full flavoured palate with savoury, nutty, intense fruit, spicy oak and good acidity. A lovely full flavoured food wine that is concentrated but still has a lightness of texture. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Beringer Appellation Collection Fumé Blanc 2000, Napa, California
Accessible fruity nutty nose leads to a rich, creamy, oaky palate with soft texture and a sweetness to the fruit. Accessible. Very good (£7.99 buy any two Californian wines and save 15% = £6.79)

Fetzer Echo Ridge Viognier 2001, California
Pretty, floral, honeyed nose. Rich textured palate is kept alive by good acidity. Bright and fruity; quite pretty. Good/very good (£7.99 buy any two Californian wines and save 15% = £6.79)

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2000 Santa Barbara County, California
Very classy intense, savoury, mealy nose with some bready, nutty notes. The palate is concentrated and nutty with good acidity supporting the focused fruit. Nicely structured, this is a serious new world Chardonnay. Very good/excellent (£15.99 buy any two Californian wines and save 15% = £13.59)

Curious Grape Empire Zest 2000, England
‘Curious Grape’ is the new branding for Chapel Down, the leading UK producer in terms of volume. Despite the dreadful label this isn’t a bad wine. The clean, subtly aromatic grassy nose leads to a brightly fruited high acid palate. With its clearly defined grassy fruit this is almost Sancerre-like. Very good (£4.99 Buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Curious Grape Bacchus 2001, England
Herb-tinged grassy, limey nose. Full flavoured zesty, limey palate with lots of sherbetty character. Clean and well made in a modern mould. Very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Cave de Ribeauvillé Gewürztraminer 2001, Alsace
Floral nose with a limey edge. Palate is quite pretty with herby, floral fruit. Good/very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Cave de Ribeauvillé Tokay Pinot Gris 2000, Alsace
Deep coloured. Smoky, herby nose leads to a rich, fat-textured palate with interesting herbal and bacon fat character. Unusual but fairly true to the grape variety. Very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Bott-Geyl Muscaty Riquewihr 2000, Alsace
A good example of Alsace Muscat. Pretty, grapey floral nose leads to a well balanced grapey palate with good acidity. Very good (£7.99 buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Bott-Geyl Tokay Pinot Gris 2000, Alsace
Forward nose shows meaty, spicy character to the grapey fruit. Rich, full textured palate with some residual sugar. An attractive, fat, medium-dry style. Very good+ (£9.99 buy 2 save £2 = £8.99)

Bert Simon Serriger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese 1989, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Very cheap for a 13 year old Riesling Spätlese, so where’s the catch? None really: although it’s not a terribly harmonious Riesling, it’s pretty good. Striking appley limey nose is perfumed and still very fresh. Rich appley/pear notes on the palate with some sweetness and very high acidity. Very good (£5.99 buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

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