Under the imaginative and unconventional guidance of Rowan Gormley, Majestic is becoming very quick on its feet – both managerially and in the wines sold – nevertheless they continue, very effectively, to span the gap between supermarkets and “indy” wine merchants.
Here are a few of their current offerings that I consider great examples of wine from their particular home regions – and, of course with MidWeek Wines, to be good value for money.
This week’s other content includes two more “Best of the Rest” wines plus a new feature on special occasion bottles; it replaces our Top Tips this time.
Back though to our headline recommendations, remember that Majestic’s pricing policies changed a while back with single bottle prices introduced (the higher of those shown below) and significant discounts (the lower price shown) kicking in when you buy six bottles in total.
Follow the link to Majestic’s “T&C’s” to see how their mixed six policy works and the different pricing arrangements that apply in Scotland.
As usual, click on any bottle for an enlarged image to help spot the wine on a crowded display.
First New Zealand Pinot Gris
Interestingly, that ripeness injects a perception of sweetness into 2017 Russian Jack Pinot Gris(£8.99/£10.99 and 13% abv) but, as the wine warms up, that is counterbalanced by touches of sherbet citrus acidity that neatly underscore its textured red apple, pear and nectarine fruit.
Nipping Back to Australia
Because so many German emigres headed for South Australia, the Clare Valley has been hugely successful with the riesling variety associated with those early settlers – helped of course by suitable climatic conditions and skilled winemaking.
Enjoy then this top end coming together of all those factors in the form of the zippy yet substantial 2015 Jim Barry The Lodge Dry Riesling (£10.99/£14.99 and 12.5%) with lime and green apple fruit combined with touches of parsley, jasmine and white peach hobnobbing, naturally, with that classic suggestion of kerosene.
Switching now to great value red
Once again we see that stepping outside Spain’s main areas – to Carinena in this case – we can unearth great value well matured wines like this – which is an absolute star at this very modest price point.
With surprisingly bold fruit and acidity for six year old wine, 2011 Marques Tertiaro Gran Reservado (£7.99/£8,99 and 13.5%) has delightful floral cherry and loganberry flavours, touches of clove, vanilla and cocoa with a graphite edge but only modest tannin.
A successful production technique heads south
Appassimento techniques involve drying grapes to concentrate the flavours – and sometimes sweetness – by reducing the water content. As well as parts of the North West (think Amarone), other regions of Italy are also using this technique as this Sicilian red illustrates.
See the results of the process in the depth and intensity of 2016 Nero Oro Nero D’Avola Appassimento (£8.99/£9.99 and13.5%) and its effect on the wine’s vanilla and chocolate imbued red cherry and raspberry fruit.
A really big Tuscan
That hard-won change now gives us the delightful nutty and textured 2015 Parcel Series Sant'antimo (£9.99/£14.99 and 15.5%) centred around plum and black cherry fruit, supported by suggestions of nutmeg, vanilla and jalapeño with a bold acidity that helps to mitigate the alcohol driven heat.
Sunday Best Wines
Most subscribers will recognise that the MidWeek Wines website’s “core business” is entry point wines.
It has become the “go to” site for inexpensive, great value wines of above average quality for their price – and sometimes substantially so.
There are, however, times when the occasion, or the company, calls for something even more sophisticated – and for which, naturally, we will dig a little deeper.
So, here is a new monthly column offering ideas for any such event. Its name – Sunday Best Wines – seeks to distinguish it from (but underline its connection to) that core business.
Selection criteria mirror those used for main site recommendations and with a similar objective – helping you to buy with confidence and thus significantly reduce the prospect of disappointment.
Gavi with depth
Here though is a wine that “squares that circle” because 2016 Le Colombare Gavi di Gavi (£16 at selected Sainsbury’s stores and 12%) has crunchy conference pear depth yet compromises neither that classic apple centred crispness, delicacy and poise nor the lively lemon centre acidity.
Getting more like them next door
While quality Burgundy may be a stretch even for special occasions, there can be distinctly Burgundian aspects to a number of serious Beaujolais wines – especially those from the granite influenced northern end of the region where the Cru Beaujolais are located. Here is a good example from one of them – Moulin a Vent.
Note in particular the peony and thyme elements that linger within the raspberry and black cherry base of 2013 Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent (£16.95 at www.winedirect.co.uk and 13%) and which are capably supported by suggestions of firm acidity and a chocolate imbued graphite edge.
Now to a pair from Argentina
Argentina is famed for its high altitude vineyards and for the extra dimension that height adds to the wine produced there. Tupungato – probably the highest of the high – produces some excellent chardonnay but it is on their reds that I plan to focus today with two that especially impressed me.
Savour the excellent depth and great acidity in 2015 Cadus Tupungato Malbec (£16.99 at www.hoults.com and 14.5%) with its floral raspberry and cherry fruit embellished with suggestions of chocolate and cinnamon, firm tannin and a neat concluding savoury edge.
Both Cabernets (sauvignon and franc) join the party in the long, dark and rich 2014 Zorzal Eggo Tinto de Tiza Malbec (£16.95 at www.slurp.co.uk and 13.5%) with similar cherry and raspberry components to the Cadus but less tannin and more herbal (and pimento) influences within its mineral backdrop.
Best of the Rest
Sensation: Hungry sheep improve wine
While other South African winemakers have concentrated on chardonnay or chenin blanc, Thys Louw has made sauvignon blanc his speciality – even naming this wine after the sheep that stripped leaves off his vines thus, unwittingly, hastening the ripening process.
Judge his wines for yourself with the complex and grassy 2017 Leaf Plucker Sauvignon Blanc (£6.99 at Aldi and 13%) with its apple, tangerine and lemon fruit, minty background, lime and grapefruit acidity and extra texture probably derived from some barrel fermentation.
A monster tamed – cabernet spreads a little softness
Because it is high in tannin, current winemaker thinking often softens the final wine by blending in a small portion of cabernet – which has happened here.
So, there are soft edges to the meaty and rich 2015 Réserve des Tuguets Madiran (£6.50 at Tesco and 13.5%) that work well with its cinnamon and aniseed embellished elderberry and black cherry fruit and the good acidy but firm tannin that accompany it.
Subscribe for FREE!
Do you want every review I write, direct to your inbox, absolutely free?