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

Cave des Hautes Côtes Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge 1999, Burgundy
Bargain basement red Burgundy, showing attractive but simple cherry fruit with a herby edge, and good acidity. A light style. Good/very good (£5.49 Buy 2 save £1 = £4.99)

Louis Max Côte Chalonnaise Rouge 1999, Burgundy
This comes in an attractive chunky bottle with a 'hand-drawn'-style label. A light but nicely balanced red Burgundy, with cherry and raspberry fruit, and a herby edge. Good balancing acidity, but perhaps a tad overpriced? Very good (£8.99 buy 2 save £2 = £7.99)

Catherine et Claude Marechal Chorey-les-Beaune 1999, Burgundy
The nose shows pure, bright raspberry fruit which carries through to the palate. Juicy acidity on the finish. Good intensity here, but still quite primary. Very good (£9.99)

Catherine et Claude Marechal Ladoix Les Chaillots 1999, Burgundy
Good concentration, but doesn't offer much more than primary raspberry/cherry fruit at the moment. Too simple for a £10 wine. Good/very good (£9.99)

Rossignol Jeanniard Aloxe Corton 2000, Burgundy
There's a touch of herby complexity to this brightly fruited Pinot Noir. Tasty but a bit primary. Very good (£13.99)

Albert Morot Beaune 1er Cru Les Bressandes 1986, Burgundy
Pale cherry red with a brick red rim. Mature nose of undergrowth and herbs, with some mushrooms lurking in the background. Soft, mature palate with good acidity. It's still alive, and there's certainly some interest here, but it's too old for my palate. Very good (£14.99)

Marc Roy Gevrey Chambertin 'Clos Prieur' 1999, Burgundy
For those of you who must have Burgundy at Christmas, this was my favourite. It's a very modern-styled wine, with quite a deep colour for a Pinot Noir. The interesting nose is smoky and rich, with some attractive toasty elements. The palate shows a great density of spicy fruit, with firm tannins. It's not the most expressive Pinot, but it's tasty in a full-on style, and will probably age quite nicely too. Very good+ (£18.99, reduced to £15.99)

Alain Michelot Nuits-Saint-George 1999, Burgundy
Rather muted nose. Palate is quite tannic and shows some herby, cherry fruit. A bit disappointing considering the price. Good/very good (£17.99)

Domaine de Richard Vin de Pays de l'Aude
Majestic's bargain basement house red is a surprisingly palatable blend of Grenache and Carignan. Deep coloured, this is a rich, ripe, juicy fruity little number with plenty of concentration. Remarkably good for the price; an ideal party wine. Good/very good (£2.79)

Cuvée des Amandiers 2000 Vin de Pays d'Oc
Attractive fruity red wine. A tiny bit sawdusty on the palate, but good value. (£2.99)

Domaine Plantade Syrah/Merlot 2000 Vin de Pays d'Oc
This unusual blending of grapes results in a rich, fruity wine with a juicy character. A crowd pleaser. (£4.49, buy 2 save £1 = £3.99)

Mont Tauch Fitou L'Exception 1998, Langudeoc
This is an ambitious effort from the well-regarded Mont Tauch cooperative. It's a deep coloured wine with a striking smoky, new oak influenced nose. The palate is concentrated and savoury, showing herbal fruit, firm tannins and lots of oak. Dense, chunky stuff. Very good+ (£8.99)

Abbaye Sylva Plana Faugères La Closeraie 2000, Languedoc
Nicely packaged with an elegant label design, this is a tasty, authentic wine from the South of France. A concentrated red/purple colour it has a stunning smoky, meaty, 'roasted' nose, with a herby, complex palate that's finished off with dry, spicy tannins. A delicious savoury southern-style wine with bags of character. Very good+ (£6.99, buy 2 save £1 = £6.49)

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Ventoux Les Trois Mas 1999, Rhône
A savoury red wine with good balance and a reasonably firm palate. Good/very good (£4.99)

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône 'Mule Noire' 199, Rhône
A chunky, savoury Côtes du Rhône with good balance, but pretty unremarkable stuff. (£5.99)

Domaine Chomel Crozes Hermitage 1999, Northern Rhône
A medium bodied wine offering cherry and raspberry fruit, but otherwise not showing a great deal of interest at this stage. Good/very good (£6.99 buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Les Grandes Serres Châteuneuf-du-Pape 1999, Rhône
Very fruity for a Châteauneuf with some spicy southern character on the palate. Medium bodied. [Irrespective of the quality of the wine, I suspect this will sell because of the name and the price.] Good/very good (£8.49)

Domaine des Chenes Blancs Gigondas 1999, Rhône
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah; unfiltered. Some real interest here. There's a liquoricey, spicy edge to the ripe fruit on the nose. The palate has a herby edge to it with some rubbery, spicy, Grenache-like character. Good value. (£8.99)

Château Méaume 1996 Bordeaux Supérieur
Quite an expressive nose, showing some maturity, with herby notes and caramel-tinged fruit. On the palate there's a nice chalky cedary edge to the fruit. Drinking well now, and a good Christmas claret. Very good (£6.49)

Château Pervenche-Puy-Arnauld 1998 Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux
Light, but with some attractive chalky tannins and good balance. Good/very good (£8.49, buy 2 save £2 = £7.49)

Château La Vieille Croix 1998 Fronsac, Bordeaux
Deep red/purple colour. Bright herby cherry fruit on the nose with some rich blackcurrant undertones. Fresh, bright fruit dominates the palate with a herbaceous edge. Pleasant but expensive for what it is. Very good (£10.99)

Pavillon des Connétables 1999, St Julien, Bordeaux
A deep coloured wine, the nose shows bright berry fruit with a smoky edge. There's a nice tannic core to the brightly fruited palate. A tiny bit on the light side, but still plenty of stuffing here. Very good (£10.99)

Château Grand Faurie Larose 1998 St Emilion, Bordeaux
Slightly muted nose leads to a chewy palate with bright fruit, high acid and a tannic finish. A light wine, and very youthful tasting. Overpriced (£12.99)

Les Tourelles de Longueville 1997, Pauillac, Bordeaux
For those of you who just have to have your Christmas Claret, here's what I'd choose. The second wine of Ch. Pichon Longueville Baron, like many 1997s it's drinking well now -- these were never wines for the long haul. The nose shows smoky blackcurrant fruit with rounded, chalky notes. There's some rich fruit on the palate and just enough complexity to justify the price tag. Very good+ (£14.99 reduced to £12.99)

Poupille 1998 Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux
Deep coloured wine. The nose is still pretty tight, with bright fruit and some background smokiness. The palate is dense, tight and tannic, with a concentrated fruity core. Needs time to open out. Very good+ (£13.99)

Château Moulin Riche 1997, St Julien, Bordeaux
Quite a serious nose, with a smoky, medicinal edge. Dense, firm, tannic palate with impressive concentration, but currently it's quite hard. Will it come round? Very good (£14.99)

Les Pagodes de Cos 1998, St Estèphe, Bordeaux
The second wine of Cos d'Estournel. Dense purple colour. Nose is quite serious, with a touch of spice, but is a little bit closed at the moment. There's bright blackcurrant fruit on the palate with high acidity and a juicy finish. Some tannin. Very good+ (£15.99)

Tedeschi Fabriseria 1999, Rosso della Veronese, Veneto, Italy
A unusual but interesting red wine, made from a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep purple/black colour this concentrated, almost soupy wine has a herby, spicy nose. The palate rich and lush, with ripe fruit and good acidity. There's plenty of tarry, sweet oak influence together with a lovely herbal complexity. Rich, modern and delicious. Very good/excellent (£11.49)

Aldo Conterno Barbera d'Alba 1999, Piedmont, Italy
Quite expressive nose with a dry, spicy edge. Intensely savoury, dense palate with good acidity and a tannic, spicy finish. Concentrated, traditional stuff; needs time? Very good+ (£13.99)

Casa de la Ermita Jumilla 1999, Spain
An ambitious, modern wine from the Jumilla region, where the key grape is Monastrell (known elsewhere as Mourvèdre; there's also some Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet and Tempranillo in the blend). It's a deep red/black colour, and shows lush fruit with a herby, spicy edge and a touch of liquorice. A rich, impressive wine in a modern style. Very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Pago de Carraovejas Crianzo 1998, Ribera del Duero, Spain
A blend of Tempranillo (75%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) given the new oak treatment. There's sweet berry fruit on the attractive, ripe (almost lush) nose, with a caramel-like edge. Nicely balanced herbal fruit on the palate, jostling with firm acidity and spicy new oak. Quite oaky, but very attractive. Very good+ (£10.99, reduced from £13.49)

Castas do Carneiro 1998, Alenquer, Portugal
Interesting herby nose with a touch of vegetation; it's savoury and quite complex. Palate is juicy, herby and ripe. Not a heavyweight, but tasty and accessible. Very good (£4.49, buy 2 save £1 = £3.99)

Monte Velho Tinto 2000, Alentejo, Portugal
An everyday glugger from Alentejo producer Esporão. Bright herby nose is a tiny bit confected, and leads to a palate with juicy berry fruit. Fair value, especially at the reduced price. Good/very good (£4.99, buy 2 save £2 = £3.99)

Tuella Tinto 1997, Duero, Portugal
Made by port house Cockburn from indigenous Port grape varieties. It's a dense, serious-looking red/purple colour. The distinctly Portuguese nose is a little rustic and perhaps a tiny bit volatile. The rounded, herby palate shows good concentration and a caramel edge. Good/very good (£4.99, buy 2 save £2 = £3.99)

Sogrape Duque de Viseu Dão 1999, Portugal
A new-wave Dão from Portuguese giants Sogrape. Good, concentrated colour. The nose displays herb tinged cherry and raspberry fruit, leading to a modern yet savoury palate of good density. Very good (£4.99, buy 2 save £1 = £4.49)

Cortes de Cima Chaminé 1999, Alentejo, Portugal
Fairly deeply coloured, this is a modern, lush style of wine with lots of fruit but enough tannin and spice to keep things interesting. Very good (£6.49)

Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir 1999, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very pale coloured, showing cherryish fruit with a herby edge. Good acidity and some tannins on the finish. A lighter style; very much a new world take on Pinot Noir. Good/very good (£7.99, buy 2 save £2 = £6.99)

Renwood Sierra Series Zinfandel 1999, California
Attractive fruity, spicy nose with a bit of an acid lift. Lush, sweet, ripe fruit on the palate with good concentration. Very accessible and more-ish. Very good (£9.99, buy any two Californian wines save 15% = £8.49)

Foxen Pinot Noir 1999, Santa Maria Valley, California
Bright nose of ripe, herby fruit with an attractive spicy edge. Full, herby, cherry palate with good acidity and a spicy finish. A riper style of Pinot Noir. Very good+ (£15.99, buy any two Californian wines save 15% = £13.59)

Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2000, Rapel, Chile
Pale coloured with undergrowthy notes to the herby nose. Light palate, with a herbal, medicinal edge. Quite good balance, even if it is a little unusual. Good/very good (£4.99, buy any 6 Chilean wines and save 15% = £4.24)

Montes 'Limited Selection' Pinot Noir 1999, Chile
There's a bit of herbal complexity on the nose with some spicy notes. Palate is ripe rounded and herby, and perhaps a tiny bit jammy. Quite rich in style, and unusual stuff. Very good (£7.49, buy any 6 Chilean wines and save 15% = £6.37)

Tyrrells Old Winery Pinot Noir 2000, Australia
The grapes from this wine come from just about everywhere: Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale, Barossa and Coonawarra to be precise. Quite deep coloured, this is very new world in style but still quite balanced. The spicy, herby nose shows some cherry fruit and leads to a palate with herby berry fruit and good acidity. Dry, spicy tannins provide structure. Very good (£6.99, buy 2 save £2 = £5.99)

Rosemount Shiraz 2000, Australia
Fruit sourced from Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale and Mudgee; matured for 8 months in American oak. The enticing, sweet nose shows rich, sweet, spicy berry fruit. The palate is sexy and full, with a rich, spicy character: it manages to be both savoury and sweet at the same time. A real crowd-pleaser. Very good+ (£7.49, buy 2 save £5 = £4.99)

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 1999, Australia
The ripe, lush, fruity nose gives way to a ripe, fruity palate with some sweet caramel notes. Quite tasty, if a little simple, but a good bet at the offer price. Good/very good (£5.99, buy 2 get 3rd free = £3.99)

Noble Road Shiraz 2000, Australia
This is a very lush, ripe fruity style. A sweetly fruited, accessible crowd pleaser. (£5.99, buy 2 save £2 = £4.99)

Tim Adams Cabernet 1997, Clare Valley, Australia
A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, aged in a mixture of French and American oak. Full, soft, attractive nose is quite oaky. Ripe palate shows nice balance: this is drinking well now. Very good (£8.99)

Tatachilla Merlot 1999, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Adelaide Hills is one of Australia's 'cool climate' regions, and is developing a bit of a reputation for Merlot. From a single vineyard these grapes have been given a fairly traditional treatment (open top fermenters), and this is lovely stuff. A concentrated purple colour, the nose shows ripe, creamy blackcurrant fruit. The dense, bright fruit on the palate has a spicy edge. It's an attractive, modern-styled wine. Very good/excellent (£8.99)

Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
No apologies for recommending another Tatachilla wine. This one's a hugely dense red/black colour. The ripe, liquoricey nose has some menthol notes from new oak. The palate is super-concentrated with spicy oak, firm tannins and a touch of cinnamon. Tasty stuff, and relatively good value to boot. Very good/excellent (£11.99)

Pirramimma Premium Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
An opaque red/purple colour, this has an exotic, ripe, lush nose with some new-oak-derived menthol notes. The thick, inky palate shows ripe, liquoricey, almost Port-like fruit. It's quite delicious in the full-throttled McLaren Vale style: very oaky, but the fruit can just about handle it. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Majestic, but buy 2 save £3 = £8.49)

Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Another deep coloured, dense wine, there's an attractive spiciness to the nose. On the palate this is quite a chunky effort: rich blackcurrant fruit combines well with spicy American oak. Perhaps a little over oaked? A great winter warmer at the offer price. Very good+ (£7.99 Buy 2 save £3 = 6.49)

Maury 1928 Solera (50 cl)
This is a fortified wine made from red grapes (Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Carignan) but aged in a Sherry-like solera style: 600 litre barrels are used and each year a bit of wine is taken off and replaced with new wine. The original solera here at the Maury co-op was started in 1928, so each bottle may contain a few molecules from the 1928 mother wine. It's a deep red/brown colour with a delicious christmas cake and raisin nose, together with some caramel notes. The palate is dense and raisined, with coffee and treacle notes. Complex, sweet and not too sickly; a real treat. Only 840 bottles in stock, so be quick. Very good/excellent. (£14.99)

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