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Christmas gifts: wines
A range of Christmas wine offers from madaboutwine.com

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Two specially selected cases from virginwines.com


My Christmas picks from Majestic wine warehouses

Chardonnay Castello della Sala 1999, Antinori, IGT Umbria, Italy
Fermented in French oak, this is a striking Chardonnay with a pronounced toasty oak nose. On the palate, the barrel-ferment character combines nicely with savoury fruit and high acidity. Quite oaky, but very good none the less. (£6.99) Buy 2+ = £6.49

Chardonnay 1991, Durney Vineyards, Monterey, California
Majestic have a range of vintages for this wine spanning 1991 to 1996, all suprisingly cheap. This, the oldest, shows a toasty, butterscotch nose and soft, part-oxidised palate. This has aged quite nicely -- most new world Chardonnays will have died a death by now. I'd opt for the more recent vintages, but this is just a matter of personal taste. Time for a vertical? (£3.99)

Bethany Riesling 1999, Barossa Valley Australia
A really appealing, full flavoured Riesling at a great price. Almost overpowering nose of citrus fruit. Full, rich, concentrated citrus-laden palate. Delicious, full-on wine. Very good+ (£5.49) Buy 2+ = £4.99

Capel Vale Sauvignon/Semillon 1999, Western Australia
A lovely wine. Startling nose of gooseberry and grapefruit nose. Ripe and impressive stuff with high acidity and good balance. Reminds me of the equally impressive but more expensive Cape Mentelle Sauvignon/Semillon. Very good + (£6.99) Buy 2+ = £6.49

Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier 1999, Australia
A brilliant example of super-trendy Viognier at an attractive price. Luscious ripe nose with varietally true characters of peach, melon and apricot. Soft, full and fruity on the palate, showing nice balance. A bargain. Very good+ (£5.99)

Fairleigh Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2000, Marlborough, New Zealand
Familiarity does indeed breed contempt, and its easy to overlook just how remarkable Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs can be -- this was a wine style that didn't exist until the 1980s. This is another top-notch example, with a striking nose of gooseberry and citrus, a super savoury palate and knockout concentration and intensity. Very good/excellent (£6.99) Buy 2+ = £5.99

Faugères Abbaye de Sylva Plana 1999, La Closeraie
First vintage from new winemaker, handpicked grapes and low yields of 30 hl/ha. Full red/black colour. Slightly muted nose but full, dense palate of soft, ripe, chalky fruit. Nice concentration: needs time to show its best? Very good. (£6.49) Buy 2+ = £5.99

Minervois Domaine des Aires Hautes La Livinière 1998
Soft, forward, slightly sweet nose that seems to be typical of new-wave Minervois. Exotic herby, rich fruit on the palate, with nice balance. Very good+ (£6.99) Buy 2+ = £5.99

Château Coupes Roses Les Plôts 1999, Minervois
Deep red purple with a delicious nose: pungent, meaty and exotic. Tannic and full on the palate this is super stuff, with lovely herby complexity. Very good/excellent. (£6.99)

Tuella Douro Tinto 1997, Portugal
Concentrated purple/red with a muted nose. Soft, rich, full flavoured palate with a touch of caramel and ripe fruit. Good/very good, and at a nice price. (£4.99) Buy 2+ = £3.99

Chaminé 1999 Cortes de Cima, Alentejo, Portugal
Deep red/purple colour. This is a modern styled wine with a pungent nose and interesting savoury cherry and herb palate. Good concentration. Very good (£6.99) Buy 2+ = £6.24