Majestic wine

St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve 2004 Barossa, Australia
Three rich, ripe reds this week. First, an unoaked blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Touriga Nacional. It has a lovely, immediate nose of sweet ripe raspberry jam, with some subtle, darker, spicier notes keeping it from being too jammy. The palate is rounded and quite spicy but the dominant theme is lush, forward fruit that is defined by some spicy structure. (£5.99 Waitrose, Co-op, Majestic)  

Clos de los Siete 2003 Mendoza, Argentina
From seven vineyards in the foothills of the Andes, this is an ambitious red wine; the project is managed by superstar consultant winemaker Michel Rolland. It’s a striking, dark wine with an intoxicating sweet nose of liqueur-like blackcurrants and red fruits, quite like a young vintage port. The palate is sweet with a rounded, roasted character and a spicy edge. A very seductive, modern-styled wine with wonderful purity of the fruit. (£10.99 Majestic, £8.99 if you buy two)

Plan Pégau L:2003 Vin de Table, France
This expressive red wine may be labelled just as a Vin de Table, but it is the equivalent of a rather good Châteauneuf du Pape from celebrated domain Pégau. It shows a light, pretty cherry and herb nose with some savoury spiciness, which leads to a palate that is light, spicy and rather earthy. Not a big complex wine but satisfying and very drinkable, with a nice peppery edge to the rather fresh fruit.
(Majestic £7.99, £6.99 if you buy two)

Malbec de Ricardo Santos 2002 Mendoza, Argentina
Majestic £7.99
This Malbec comes from high altitude vineyards and shows elegant spicy red fruit character. Nicely balanced and good with food.

Masseria Monaci Copertino 2000 Italy
Majestic £4.99
There’s more to Italian wine than Chianti and Valpolicella. This is a c hunky southern Italian red showing vivid, spicy fruit at a very good price.
Modern without losing its identity.

Domaine Caillaubert Assemblage Gascon 2003 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne
Majestic £3.99
You want a c heap all-purpose white that’s good enough for all but the poshest gatherings? This is it. Bold, fresh, herbal and grassy with lots of tongue tingling acidity. Delicious and very, very cheap.

Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Helderberg, South Africa
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape that, over the last five years, has emerged as a bit of a star in the Cape. This first wine is expensive, but worth it. It has a bright, complex, taut nose with some classy, seamless fruit and even a bit of minerality on the palate. (£11.99 Sainsbury, Majestic, Oddbins)

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat, South Eastern Australia
If you’ve never tried one of these Aussie liqueur Muscats and you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you owe it to yourself to grab one of these. It is full of sweet raisiny, grapey richness, with a treacly finish. Amazing concentration – truly delicious. A good introduction to this style of wine. £8.49 Majestic

Vergelegen Chardonnay 2003 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Chardonnay is beginning to develop a bit of an image problem, but I’m still a fan of good examples like this. Lots of rich, forward, figgy tropical fruit here in this boldly flavoured white: it’s delicious if you enjoy richer styled wines. (£7.99 Majestic)

Château de Targé Samur Champigny ‘Les Truffeaux’ 2003 Loire, France
Loire reds are just the ticket for summer: they’re fresh with bright fruit, and this wine is no exception. I really like the vivid savoury red fruit with its almost chalky edge. Vibrant stuff. (£6.99 Majestic)

Ermita Veracruz Verdejo 2004 Rueda, Spain
Spain is generally red wine territory, but whites like this from Rueda are worth checking out. It’s perfumed and fresh with a lovely assertive grassy character. A delicious wine that’s highly food compatible. (£6.49 Majestic)

Goats du Roam in Villages 2003 Coastal Region, South Africa
This is a real bruiser. Unsubtle and great fun. It’s intense and concentrated with dark, sweet fruit backed up with a slightly rustic, meaty, spicy savouriness. Just a hint of bitter plumminess to the fruit. The rich, spicy fruit meshes well with the oak: a very satisfying winter warmer. (Majestic £6.99)

La Chapelle Notre Dame d’Aubune Baumes de Venise 2003 Côtes du Rhône Villages, France
A brilliant cheapie, this is a red wine from a subregion more often associated with sweet whites. Sweet, ripe open nose of liqueur-like blackberry and raspberry fruit leads to a smooth, ripe, supple palate with lots of red and black fruit character. Fine-grained tannic structure. (Majestic £4.99)

Beyerskloof Pinotage 2003 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Majestic £5.99
Pinotage is one of those red grape varieties that polarize people. Some people think it’s vile, while others are passionate about it. This example from expert proponents Beyerskloof is brilliantly balanced, with a nice, medium bodied palate and just enough spicy structure to keep things interesting. It’s a delicious, almost Claret-like rendition of Pinotage without too much funk.

Swartland Winery Pinotage 2003 Swartland, South Africa
Majestic £4.49
Perhaps what Pinotage does best is to make bright, fruit-forward berry fruited red wines that are fun to drink and where the slightly funky, rustic Pinotage character acts as a point of interest rather than a distraction. This is a ripe, forward red, with delicious juicy berry and blackcurrant fruit and a savoury herbal twist. Great value.

Quinta de Azevedo 2004 Vinho Verde, Portugal
Sticking with Portugal, we move to a crisp, fresh white that makes a perfect summer sipper. Initially a bit spritzy on opening, this displays tangy-yet-rounded fruit and good acidity. A textbook Vinho Verde (£5.49 Majestic)


Château d’Or et de Gueules 2001 Costières de Nîmes, France
The names a bit of a mouthful but this rich, fruity spicy red wine is nicely savoury – to use a rather cringey term it ‘overdelivers’ for £4.99. (Majestic £4.99)

Vocoret Chablis 2002 France
A classic lemony, minerally Chablis displaying lots of savoury, nutty fruit on the palate.  (£8.99 Majestic)

La Grange Neuve de Figeac 1997 St Emilion, France
Traditional Claret lovers with be delighted with this expressive red Bordeaux, offering complexity rarely found at this price. Not a big wine but very ‘classic’. (£10.99 Majestic)

Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir 2002 Carneros, California
There’s a lovely herby, spicy complexity to the sweet fruit on this Californian Pinot. It’s richer than its Burgundian equivalents, but utterly delicious and still quite classy. (£11.04 Majestic)

Cloudy Bay Pelorus 1998 New Zealand
This fizz is one of my favourites. Made by Cloudy Bay who are famous for their iconic Sauvignon Blanc, it’s boldy flavoured and quite toasty. (£12.79 if you buy 2, Majestic)

Champagne Taittinger 1998 France
Vintage Champagne is top of the quality tree, and Taittinger are one of the best houses. Full flavoured, bright and very elegant – this is one for special occasions. (£26.99 if you buy 2, Majestic)

Hidalgo Pedro Ximenez Viejo
If you’ve never tried a Pedro Ximenez Sherry and have a sweet tooth, then try this. It’s rich, viscous, treacly, raisiny and very, very, very sweet. Striking stuff. (£8.99 Majestic)H

Henriques & Henriques 10 year old Malmsey, Madeira
Madeira, one of the wine world’s oddities, is a fortified wine style that can range in style from dry to very sweet. This is rich, raisined and sweet with a lovely bitterness on the finish. (£10.99 Majestic)

Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc 2001, Burgundy, France
It’s rare to find classy white Burgundy (which is made from the Chardonnay grape) at this price, but here’s a wine that offers lots of characterful savoury, nutty fruit. (£5.99)

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Wairau Valley 2002 Marlborough, New Zealand
A sophisticated, grassy herby white in a lean, savoury style. Very classy but ideally needs food to show its best. (£9.99)

Cave Co-op de Prissé Mâcon Villages Blanc 2001 Burgundy
Nice lemony appley fruit is the signature of this well made introduction to white Burgundy. Great quality for the money. (£4.99)

Piramimma Petit Verdot 1999 McLaren Vale, Australia
Sometimes you want a big, bold, massive red with no holds barred – well, this is the one to try. Lots of concentrated, spicy fruit flavours backed up with plenty of oak flavour. (£8.99)

Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir 2001 Carneros, Napa, California
Saintsbury are one of California's most adept performers with Pinot Noir. This wine may be expensive, but it’s one of the best examples of this enigmatic red grape I’ve tasted outside Burgundy. It has a lovely spicy structure under the rich meaty-edged fruit. Elegant and concentrated. (£15.29)

Patamar Reserva 1999 Douro, Portugal
A cheap but tasty introduction to red Douro table wines, this has firm spicy fruit combining with an appealing herby character. A good food wine with lots of acidity. (£4.49)

Zondernaam Sauvignon Blanc 2002 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is a remarkably forward Sauvignon that just oozes class, along with a blast of rich, grassy fruit. Nice balancing acidity, too. (£6.99)

Torres Vina Sol 2002 Penèdes, Spain
This is my house white: with its delicate, aromatic character and fresh fruity flavours, it’s the perfect antidote for those tired of fat, oaky Chardonnay. Classy stuff. (£4.99)

Goats du Roam 2002 Western Cape, South Africa
This is a tremendously successful blend of red grape varieties, packing a punch of rather gutsy, rustic, spicy red berry flavours. Much more flavour than you’d expect for the price. (£4.99)

Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana, Spain
Go on: try this bone dry, salty, tangy Manzanilla with some Tapas or a Spanish omellete -- you’ll see it belongs on the table, not in the side cupboard. (£5.99)

Abadia Real 2000, Vino de la Tierra de la Castilla y Leon, Spain
This is a joyful red wine, showing lover sweet, ripe, liquorice and herb infused berry fruit. A tasty bargain. (£3.99)

Sogrape Alentejo Reserva 2000 Portugal
The Alentejo, in the south of Portugal, is the source of modern-styled full flavoured reds like this one, bursting with ripe, sweet fruit. Tasty stuff. (£7.99)

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