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Majestic press tasting, Summer 2001 


Part 2 The Reds
Majestic Wine Warehouses
are the UK's foremost by the case retailer, with more than 90 branches and an impressive range of wines. At the recent press tasting unveiling the new summer 2001 range I tasted some 120 wines, and in true anorak fashion, I'm publishing full tasting notes together with my ratings. One of the strengths of the Majestic range is that they stock a reasonable selection of grower's wines, some of which are available only in selected branches -- this is because of the small quantities available. Although some customers may find this frustrating, I think it's a good policy, and adds greatly to the interest of the range. Majestic are also to be congratulated for their incredibly cheap but very good German selections. My criticisms? Coverage of the Rhône is a bit patchy (but which multiples get this right anyway?), and the mainstay of the Majestic's Alsace range is the very disappointing line up from Bott-Geyl. Overall, though, I was pretty impressed.

Because of the number of wines involved, the notes are published in three installments: the whites, the reds, and the pick of the bunch. (See also the pick of the bunch: my selection of 15 of the most interesting tipples; Part 1 The Whites)


Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages 1999
Reliable stuff: brightly coloured with a lovely cherry, raspberry and bubblegum tinged nose, this is a rich, fruity glugger. Good/very good (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Georges Duboeuf Brouilly 2000 (flower label), Beaujolais
Bright red/purple colour with primary summer fruits on the nose and a full raspberry flavoured palate. Good concentration. (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Jean Descombes Morgon 2000, Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais
A grower's Beaujolais bottled by Duboeuf, I've enjoyed previous vintages of this wine. It has a powerful, intense raspberry nose with a pronounced leafiness. The richly fruited palate has ripe berry fruits and a touch of tannin. A substantial wine. Very good+ (£7.49, buy 2 save £1 = £6.99)

Château du Grand Pré Fleurie 1999, Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais
Bright raspberryish nose with some smoky complexity. The palate is quite savoury: bright fruit is joined by some tannin in a more serious style of Beaujolais. Very good (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Couly-Dutheil Chinon Les Garous 1999
Lovely herbaceous cherry fruit on the nose with an attractive minerality. The palate is quite light and leafy, with high acidity and some nice mineral character. A pleasant, light wine. Very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Domaine Fournier 1998 Sancerre Rouge
This Loire Pinot Noir is a pale cherry red colour with a muted, herbaceous nose showing a little bit of strawberry and cherry fruit. The light but nicely balanced palate is quite attractive, but it struggles to justify its price tag of £9. Good/very good (£8.99)

Laloue 1999 Sancerre Rouge
Not available until September, but worth waiting for. Bright cherry red colour with a nice nose of sweet leafy cherry and strawberry fruit with a herby edge. Nicely balanced palate with fruit, tannins, and some spiciness and complexity. Very good+ (£9.99)

Bott-Geyl Pinot Noir Béblenheim 1999, Alsace
A disappointing Alsace Pinot. Pale, spritzy and a little bit thin, it's currently very simple. May improve, but not recommended at the moment. (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1999
Red Chassagne is usually much less impressive (and about half the price) of its white counterpart, but Majestic have secured three pretty decent examples this year. Full, deep purple colour with a complex spicy/fruity nose. Firm spicy character on the palate. Quite impressive and still youthful-tasting. Very good. (£10.99)

Badeur-Mimeur Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge1999
Deep purple colour with a powerful raspberry nose. The palate is richly flavoured and currently still dominated by primary fruit, with a touch of caramel and spice. Potential for some development here. Very good (£10.99)

Blain-Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1999
The nose shows bright, pure raspberry/cherry fruit. The richly fruited palate is still youthful with a fair whack of tannin. It's very primary and may be worth laying down for a year or two. Very good (£10.99)

Domaine de Richard 2000, Vin de Pays de L'Aude
This is a real step up from bog standard plonk and is an ideal party wine, worth buying by the case. The nose shows smoky cherry fruit and there is rich, soft fruit on the palate. Good/very good (£2.79)

Château de Luc Corbières 1999
A lovely full-on Southern French red. Deep red/black colour. The rich nose shows medicinal fruit and a touch of caramel, leading to a rich, soft, herby palate. Attractive. Very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Château Giot Costières du Nimes 2000
A youthful deep red/purple colour, this is an impressive Southern French red with bags of character. The intense smoky/herby nose leads to a richly fruited palate with some tannic structure to it. Very good+ (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Château Pech Redon Sélection La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc
A blend of Grenache and Syrah, this has a lovely, slightly pungent nose with real depth of fruit. The youthful, firm palate has a savoury, slightly medicinal complexity. Impressive stuff showing real character. Very good+ (£6.99)

Château du Trignon Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet 1999
Bright raspberryish nose leads to a bright, fruity palate. Modern styled and young. Good/very good (£6.99)

Château du Trignon Gigondas 1999
Very bright red fruit on nose with some herby undertones. Modern fruity palate with bright raspberry/cherry fruit. Nice enough, but overpriced and not typical of the appellation. Good+ (£9.49)

Domaine de Rochevine St Joseph 1997 Cave de St-Désirat
In an expensive-looking, heavy bottle, this has a nice savoury, herby nose with a meaty edge. Fruity and youthful on the palate with good concentration. Quite interesting. Good/very good (£8.99)

Domaine du Pégau 'Plan Pégau' NV
Don't be put off by the fact that this second wine from Châteauneuf producer Pégau is non-vintage: it's an excellent wine in its own right. A youthful colour, this is rich and savoury with an attractive herby/medicinal nose and complex meaty notes. The attractive palate shows soft, herby fruit. Very good+ (£6.99)

Clos St Marc Châteauneuf du Pape 1996
1996 was a difficult year in Châteauneuf, producing lighter-styled wines which are drinking very well now. Very pale orange/red colour with sweet herbs, tea and leather on the nose. Soft, evolved palate with peppery complexity and caramel notes. Quite nice in a light style, but needs to be drunk up soon. Very good+ (£9.99)

Domaine de Ferrand Châteauneuf du Pape 1998
Very deep coloured for a Châteauneuf. Bright fruit on the nose with some medicinal notes and ripe complex elements. Firm tannins on the palate with spicy richness. Very youthful and with potential to develop, but almost absurdly expensive. Very good (£22.99)

Calvet Reserve Claret 1999
Nicely packaged, this is a big seller, but most of the purchasers obviously have no palate at all. Although there's some attractive leafy fruit, it is a bit green and stalky. Light and overpriced; plonk dressed up as decent wine. Good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Château Robin Côtes du Castillon 1998
Rustic but attractive caramelly nose. Leafy fruit and firm tannins, but unsatisfying for the price. (£8.49)

Château La Fleur Plaisance St Emilion 1998
A deep coloured, firmly tannic claret with youthful fruit. May develop. Good/very good. (£9.99)

La Bahans du Château Haut Brion 1995 Pessac-Léognan
Complex, expressive nose with soft, ripe fruit underlain by minerals. The palate shows a lovely cedary, leathery complexity, and the tannins are still quite firm. It's evolving nicely, but there's no need to rush to drink this classical-styled claret soon. Very good/excellent (£29.99)


Pasqua Sangiovese di Pasqua 2000, IGT
Bright red/purple colour with youthful strawberry/cherry fruit on the nose. Simple and fruity palate. Good+ (£2.99)

Masseria Monacia Copertino 1998 DOC
This Southern Italian red is mostly Negroamaro with a touch of Malvasia Nera. The nose has some ripe medicinal complexity; the palate is spicy and attractive. A good pizza wine. God/very good (£4.99)

Barone Cornacchia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1998
Pronounced herbal nose with a touch of stink (urine?). Cherryish fruit on palate. Odd (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Banfi Col di Sasso 1999 IGT Toscana
A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a dreadful label. Muted, stony nose and soft, rich, spicy fruit on the palate. God/very good (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Vengazzu Loredan Gasparini Cabernet Sauvignon del Montello 1998, DOC Veneto
A varietal Cabernet Sauvignon fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, I like this Lovely leafy, blackcurrant and mineral nose; quite Cabernet Franc-like. The palate is ripe and rounded with soft, leafy fruit. Tasty. Very good+ (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Sicila Accademia del Sole Calatrasi Sangiovese Syrah IGT 1999
This characterful red is a super bargain at less than a fiver. A blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Syrah, it has a wonderful nose of ripe fruit with a menthol and caramel edge. The rich, spicy, oaky palate has great concentration, and tasted blind you could be forgiven for thinking this was a £10 wine; the only give away is that it is a tiny bit rough round the edges. Very good+ (£4.99; buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Caltrasi Selian Carignan Tunisia 1999, Sicily
A slightly bizarre concept: because Tunisia is Islamic and prohibits wine making, Aussie Brian Fletcher shipped these Tunisian grapes over to Sicily to make the wine. The result? A deep purple colour, this has a powerful, modern herb and menthol nose with a smoky, sawdusty edge (oak chips?). There's rich, classy, modern fruit on the palate. Very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Conti Cortese Rosso Cornero 1998
Made from the Montepulciano grape in the central Marche region of Italy, this is a useful food wine. Deep coloured with rich spicy fruit on the nose; firm tannins and bold fruit on the palate. Good value. Very good (£5.49, buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Antinori Santa Cristina 1999, Tuscany
90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. Deep coloured wine with rich, spicy caramel fruit on the nose. Savoury and tannic on the palate with good acidity, cherry fruit and spicy, savoury complexity. Very good (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Carpineto Dogajolo 1999, IGT Toscana
A nice, savoury food wine. Smoky nose with savoury cherry fruit and some medicinal notes. The complex palate shows spicy fruit and drying, dusty tannins. Pretty good for the price. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

La Casetta de Ettore Rignetta Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 1997
Ripasso is the term that describes the winemaking trick where the wine is beefed up a bit by fermenting it on the lees of Amarone. This deep coloured wine has a nose of sweet herby cherry fruit with caramel undertones. The palate shows dense, sweet, herby fruit. Impressive concentration and approachable now. The 1998 vintage, also stocked by Majestic, is similar in character but the 1997 just edges it in my book. Very good/excellent (£7.49)

Vigne Le Coste Cornacchia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 1998
An opaque purple/black colour this has an attractive herby nose with tea-like notes and sweet fruit. The lovely complex palate has great concentration, combining dense, powerful flavours with an appealing softness. Very good/excellent (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Banfi Chianti Classico 1998
Another cheesy label from Banfi, but a textbook example of Chianti Classico. Lovely savoury rich nose with typical Sangiovese characters of herbs and spice. Good concentration on the palate with dry finish with spicy tannins. Very good+ (£7.99, buy 2 save £3 = £6.49)

Banfi Rosso de Montalcino 1997
Although this is the little brother to the famed Brunello de Montalcino, it's a lovely wine in its own right. The lovely spicy/herbal nose is taut and expressive with tar and leather notes. The medium-bodied palate shows savoury, spicy fruit. Complex and delicious. Very good/excellent (£9.99, buy 2 save £5 = £7.49)

La Mora Barolo 1997
A respectable effort for bargain basement Barolo. Pale brick red colour (a characteristic of the Nebbiolo grape) with a herbal, medicinal nose. It's quite light in style with non-fruit characters of leather, herbs and firm drying tannins. If you like this style, it's very good. (£9.99)


Coldridge Estate Shiraz Cabernet 2000
Bright fruity nose almost reminiscent of Beaujolais, with a medicinal edge. The attractive, juicy fruity palate is quite rich and full. A bargain and a real crowd pleaser. Very good (£3.49)

Bethany Grenache 1999, Barossa Valley
Pungent, youthful nose, with easy drinking sweet fruit on the palate. Remarkably soft and sweet, this is a great wine for non-wine lovers. Good/very good (£6.49, buy 2 save £1 = £5.99)

Ironstone Shiraz Grenache 1998, Margaret River
The second label of Cape Mentelle, this is a deliciously rich red with real class. Lovely powerful nose of rich berry fruit, with a beguiling edge of menthol and herbs. Rich and full on the palate with sweet fruit and good balance. Lovely rich texture. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Tatachilla Grenache/Shiraz 2000 McLaren Vale
This is a big wine, made in the forward, full-on style that typifies the Tatachilla approach. The nose shows pungent ripe fruit with a nice herbal edge. Rich and boldly flavoured on the palate; still very youthful but probably going to develop. Very good (£7.49, buy 2 save £1 = £6.99)

Oxford Landing Limited Release Shiraz 1998
Modern, full-on nose with ripe fruit and menthol notes. Dense, concentrated fruit on the palate. Tastes expensive, and may have the potential to improve. Very good (£6.49)

Noble Road Shiraz 1999, Murray
Sweet, modern fruit on the nose combines with more sweet fruit on the palate to produce a very forward, easy drinking wine. Good/ very good (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Noble Road Merlot 2000, Murray
Herbal and sweetly fruited, this is very modern stuff. Attractive easy-drinking style. Good/very good (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Yalumba Barossa Merlot 1999
Well made and very Australian, you can jut about pick up the varietal Merlot characteristics on the nose, which shows menthol-like sweet fruit with a subtle herbaceousness. The palate has a real depth of sweet, luscious fruit, with good acidity. Very good (£7.99, buy 2 save £1 = £7.49)

Amberley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1998, Margaret River
Wonderfully attractive nose of sweet berry fruit: luscious and menthol-laced, with some minerally spiciness. There's lush berry fruit and spicy oak on the palate. It's impressive for the price; a good example of the Margaret River style. (£8.99)

Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 McLaren Vale
The Tatachilla wines are all pretty impressive in their full-on, no-holds-barred style, but this is probably my favourite. This opulent Cabernet is an opaque purple/black colour with a full nose of blackcurrants and herbs. The dense palate shows sweet blackcurrant fruit and some minerality. Very good/excellent (£7.99)

Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 McLaren Vale
This bold red is dense, rich and full flavoured, with lovely ripe berry fruit, backed up with spicy complexity. Very good+ (£8.99)

New Zealand

Delegats Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Hawkes Bay
The nose shows blackcurrant fruit and lots of new oak. On the palate, the attractive fruit shows nice concentration, but it's currently a bit swamped by the oak. Chunky stuff, this may integrate with time. Good/very good. (£8.99, buy 2 save £3 = £7.49)

Delegats Reserve Merlot 1998, Hawkes Bay
A deep coloured wine, this is very modern-styled with ripe fruit and lots of new oak. May develop some more interest after a few years in the bottle. Good/very good (£8.99, buy 2 save £3 = £7.49)


Vistasur Merlot 2000, Chile
Clean and modern, the leafy green notes on the nose carry through to the palate. Good. (£4.79, buy 2 save £1 = £4.29)

Vistasur Cabernet 1999, Chile
Showing lots of clean, primary blackcurrant fruit but there's a slightly off-putting green note on the nose. God concentration, though. Good+ (£4.79, buy 2 save £1 = £4.29)

Santa Rita Merlot Reserva 1999, Chile
Nice leafy blackcurrant fruit on the nose with some spicy, herby complexity. Well balanced palate showing sweet spicy fruit and good concentration. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5. 99)

Valdivieso Barrel Selection Merlot 1999
There's a touch of leafiness to the nose. The palate shows nice bright fruit and some careful oaking, but perhaps a touch unripe? Good+ (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Valdivieso Single Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Franc 1999
A concentrated red/purple colour, this is a lovely full-on wine in a modern style. Opulent, exotic nose with ripe sweet fruit and menthol new oak notes. Youthful palate has firm tannins. Very good (£7.99)


Weinert Carrascal 1997, Argentina
Weinert developed quite a reputation a few years ago, mainly due to some inexplicably high ratings from Robert Parker. It's a traditional, old-style producer. This wine shows a restrained, leafy, sweetly fruited nose with notes of tea and leather. The palate is unremarkable, with relatively firm tannins. A bit dull. Good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Cavas de Weinert 1996
Quite old world in style. A deep red colour with a brick red rim. The nose shows sweet herby berry fruit and tertiary leather-like aromas, and the palate is relatively complex in an old-fashioned sort of way. Very good (£9.99)

Contact details: see the Majestic Wine website to find your closest branch, or order online.

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