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Majestic Press tasting Christmas 2001: the whites 
Full notes on 36 white wines from Majestic Wine’s current list. See also: 52 red wines tasted and Majestic Christmas range: my recommendations.

Domaine Servin Chablis 1999
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)

La Chablisienne Chablis 1997 (magnum), Burgundy
There's a herby edge to the smoky minerally fruit that's a little odd. Good intensity on the dry, crisp, mineralic palate. Very good (£15.99)

Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru Les Forêts Vieilles Vignes 2000, Burgundy
Good intensity here: the taut, minerally nose has a smoky edge and leads to an intense high-acid palate. Very mineralic, this is impressive stuff, but it really needs a year or two to show its best. Very good+ (£10.49)

Pinson Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2000, Burgundy
Full minerally nose with an interesting herby, smoky edge and some ripe fruit. The lemony, high-acid palate is very minerally and a touch austere, but with great promise. Very good (£11.49)

Château du Cray Montagny 1er Cru 2000, Burgundy
Lean, lemony fruit on the nose with a smoky edge. Good acidity on the palate, with some minerally notes and a bit of butterscotch character. Not really my thing, but pleasant enough. Good/very good (£8.99, by 2 save £2 = £7.49)

Vincent Girardin Rully Blanc 1er Cru Les Cloux 1999, Burgundy
Barrel fermented using 30% new oak. The smoky, monrally nose has some lemony fruit, leading to an intense palate with spicy, lemony flavours. Lots going on, but a little bit tight and hard at the moment. Very good (£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)

Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet 'Les Enseigneres' 1999, Burgundy
Barrel fermented; 30% new oak. Quite a tight wine that still tastes fairly youthful. The nose has some minerally, honeyed fruit, a touch of oak, and some noticeable alcohol. The palate shows lemony fruit with a slightly toasty edge. Taut, modern and currently a little disjointed -- the alcohol is also a little prominent. Good/very good (£19.99)

Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteuneuf du Pape Blanc 2000, Rhône
Subtly fruity nose shows floral and lemony notes. Soft, ripe palate with low acidity and a gentle texture, but missing definition in the midpalate? I'm not keen. Good/very good (£8.99)

Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Blanc 2000, Okanagan Valley, Canada
A very modern-styled wine made by John Simes, former winemaker at New Zealand's Montana. Pronounced lemon and boiled sweets nose with a touch of gooseberry fruit. Pleasant 'cool climate' palate with a lemony kick and a herbaceous edge. Unusual. Good/very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Marlborough, New Zealand
A special label for Majestic made by Wither Hills Estate. Grassy, boiled sweets character to the nose leading to a full rounded palate with a spicy edge and crisp finish. Good concentration. This is archetypal New Zealand Sauvignon at a good price. Very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Fairleigh Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2000, Marlborough, New Zealand
Barrel fermented and matured in new French oak for 12 months; a special label made for Majestic by Wither Hills Estate. Lovely, exotic nose showing tropical fruit, figgy notes and toasty oak. Nice balance on the palate between the herby, tropical fruit and the toasty oak. Very good (£7.99)

Danie de Wet Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Robertson, South Africa
Tasty, expressive Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp, high acid palate and lots of varietally true cut grass and gooseberry flavours. Refreshing stuff. Very good, and a bargain (£4.49)

Danie de Wet Limestone Hills Chardonnay 2001, Robertson, South Africa
An unoaked cuvée from Chardonnay expert Danie de Wet, this has a light floral, lemony nose and a youthful tasting palate. Fresh, uncomplicated stuff. Good/very good

Fetzer Echo Ridge Viognier 2000, Mendocino, California
The attractive, perfumed nose is floral and sweet. However, the tart palate is a bit confected and has a harsh finish. Good (£7.99, buy any two Californian wines save 15% = £6.79)

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)

La Mira Chardonnay 2001, Maipo Valley, Chile
Lovely bright, fresh nose; palate has some attractive fruit and good balance, with a savoury edge. Not at all fat or oaky like some cheap Chardonnays can be. Very good (£4.49, buy any two Chilean wines save 15% = £3.82)

La Mira Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Maipo Valley, Chile
Big grassy, gooseberry-laced nose leads to a crisp, modern palate. Good clean commerical winemaking. Good/very good (£4.49, buy any two Chilean wines save 15% = £3.82)

Montes Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2001, Curico, Chile
50% of the wine is matured in old oak barrels for three months. Quite an expressive nose, with a touch of spice joining the crisp, grassy herby notes. Nice balance on the palate with good acidity. Very good (£5.99, buy any two Chilean wines save 15% = £5.09)

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 200, Curico, Chile
Big, rich, ripe toasty nose. Palate shows concentrated, ripe nutty fruit with a savoury new oak veneer. Tasty stuff. Very good+ (£9.99, buy any two Chilean wines save 15% = £8.49)

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000, Australia
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)

Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2001, McLaren Vale, Australia
70% fermented in stainless steel, 30% in new French oak barrels. A delicious, full-flavoured Chardonnay, yet showing admirable restraint despite its concentration. Intense, tight, fruity nose leads to a rich, herby, fruity palate. A bold style with the oak influence right in the background. Very good+ (£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 (Majestic, Tesco £7.99)

Bethany Riesling 2001, Barossa Valley, Australia
Unusual, lifted, lemony perfumed nose. Rich lime and spice characters on the palate; fresh and full. A striking style. Good/very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Materne Haegelin Pinot Blanc 1999, Alsace
Muted nose with a touch of honey is followed by a dry palate with some mineral notes and a slightly unusual herbal edge. Good depth of flavour but unremarkable. Good/very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Materne Haegelin Riesling Bollenberg 1999, Alsace
The fresh, lemony/floral nose is quite expressive. Lovely balance on the palate with a dry finish and some complexity. A pretty Riesling, drinking well now. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £3 = £5.49)

Materne Haegelin Gewürztraminer 1999, Alsace
Delicate perfumed nose is very floral. Delicious palate shows super balance: it's full, rounded and has some residual sugar, but finishes dry. Will go well with food. Very good+ (£8.99, buy 2 save £3 = £7.49)

Materne Haegelin Tokay Pinot Gris 1999, Alsace
A 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 wine that will accompany food very well. Very good/excellent (£7.99, buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Burg-Leyer Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 1991, Nahe, Germany
Lots of everything here, but spoiled by a harsh finish. Striking nose shows waxy, tropical fruit notes with smoky, petrolly overtones. Limey, high-acid palate is a bit crude. Good/very good (£3.99)

Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Neumagener Rosengärtchen Riesling Kabinett 1994, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Intense, high acid, limey nose leads to a full-on palate with some sweetness but tongue-curling acidity. Impressive intensity but out of balance. Good (£4.99)

Dr Hermann Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese 1998, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Ap No. 2 602 145 5 99; 7.5% alcohol. Expressive nose shows lime, spice and a touch of melon-like richness. Good residual sugar gives nice texture on the rich palate. In balance, and worth tucking a few of these away to age? At this price it would be rude not to. Very good+ (£4.99)

Dr Hermann Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese 1998, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Ap No. 2 602 145 3 99; 7.5% alcohol. Textbook stuff at a giveaway price. Classic lime, honey and spice nose leading to a rich, broad, rounded palate with good balance and a sweet finish. Very good+ (£4.99)

Dr Hermann Urziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese 1996, Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
AP No 2 602 145 897; 8% alcohol. 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) 

Burg-Layer Rothenberg Riesling Auslese 1992, Nahe, Germany
Ap No. 7 763 076 11 93; 8% alcohol. A yellow/gold colour. Evolved, slightly petrolly, honeyed nose showing tropical fruit, mango and a touch of lime. Very rich on the palate with a sweet finish. Delicious stuff, and in balance still. Very good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £1 = £5.49)

Mission Hill Family Estate Vidal Icewine Reserve 1998, Okanagan Valley, Canada
An expensive oddity, made from grapes that have frozen on the vines, picked by night and pressed while still frozen. A deep yellow colour, with an exotic nose showing herby, vegetal notes and a lifted, spicy edge. Thick, syrupy palate is hugely concentrated. Very odd stuff, really sticky and sweet. Very good (£19.99 half)

Bourillon d'Orléans Vouvray Moelleux 1996 Loire Valley, France
This is supposed to be botrytised, if the back label is to be believed, but it isn't massively obvious, and this is certainly not a dessert wine. The smoky, slightly stinky nose gives way to a rich-textured high-acid palate which finishes relatively dry, despite the substantial residual sugar. There's a touch of spice and a nice minerally edge, but it has yet to develop any real complexity. Might be worth tucking away for a few years? Very good (£8.99)

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