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Four wines from Majestic's Sonoma offer
A while back I reported on Majestic's special parcel of 32 wines from one of California's Sonoma region (see below). Here's my notes on four of them. As of last week my local branch still had several of these wines in stock. Personally, I'd avoid any of the Chardonnays more than a couple of years old, but the reds are in fine nick -- and the prices really are quite remarkable at less than half normal retail.

Gloria Ferrer Chardonnay 1996, Carneros (Sonoma)
Carneros is a premium cool-climate region in California's Sonoma region, known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Gloria Ferrer is a sparkling wine producer owned by Spain's Freixenet: this is one of the table wines they produce. It opens with a rich, nutty, spicy nose showing honey and butterscotch notes. The palate is full textured and smooth, but is now showing a fair degree of oxidation: as well as caramel and butterscotch notes, there's also a bit of volatile acidity. Just about drinkable if you don't mind oxidised flavours. Was probably quite a tasty wine in its youth. (5.99 Majestic) 07/01

Mill Creek Chardonnay 1997, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma
Fermented and aged in French and American oak, 20% of which is new, and weighs in at 14.5% alcohol. The rich, evolved, buttery/toasty nose with shows background butterscotch notes. The creamy, buttery fruit on the palate is starting to dry out a bit, and the high alcohol is prominent. A very rich, perhaps over-ripe style, but not overoaked. I quite like these big Chards when they're young, but this really should have been drunk up a year or two ago. Good/very good (5.99 Majestic) 07/01

Kenwood Sonoma Valley Zinfandel 1997
This is a nicely made, tasty Zinfandel. It's not my favourite grape, but this is quite nice: with some plummy fruit, spice and vanilla on the nose, the palate is sweetly fruited with ripe chocolately berry fruit and undertones of herbs, vanilla and spice. There's some tannin holding things together. Dry finish suggests you shouldn't hold this much longer. Very good+ (5.99) 07/01

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 Sonoma County
Quite an evolved, oaky red wine that reminds me of a new wave Rioja in character. There's bags of sweet berry fruit and spicy, vanilla-laced (American?) oak, with good concentration and a spicy finish. Quite tasty and sophisticated, if a little oaky. This crowd-pleaser is a bargain. Very good+ (4.99 Majestic) 08/01

Majestic's Sensational Sonoma Offer
(From July 17th 2001)

Hot on the heels of last year's superb 'Swedish Claret Parcel' Majestic Wine Warehouses are offering a sensational (if rather smaller) sale of wine from the premium Californian wine region of Sonoma, again at a heavily discounted price. They have secured 32 top quality Sonoma County and Valley wines from Kenwood Vineyards, Valley of the Moon Winery, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Mill Creek Vineyards, Davis Bynum Winery and Gloria Ferrer. Prices range from just 1.99, for Davis Bynum Winery's 1998 Stone Farm Fume Blanc Russian River, to 12.99, for Rodney Strong Vineyards 1995 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley (sells for about 25 in the USA). These wines are in very limited supply, so will be snapped up extremely quickly. They are arriving in the stores this week.

The list below is just a taster of the wines where more than 1000 bottles will be available:

Kenwood Vineyards 1997 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel = 5.99 (UK retailer has this for 14)
Rodney Strong Vineyards 1996 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon = 4.99 (sells for about 12 in the USA)
Rodney Strong Vineyards 1997 Sonoma County Merlot = 6.99
Gloria Ferrer 1996 Carneros Chardonnay = 5.99 (One UK retailer has this at 17)
Gloria Ferrer 1996 Carneros Pinot Noir = 8.99

You heard it first on wineanorak.com!

Contact details: see the Majestic Wine website to find your closest branch. The chances are that you'll have to do a trawl of different branches if you want to pick up the full range.