Giles runs his rule over more choice wines to tickle the pallet.
Well, it's been a bit of a bumper tasting time of late, including of wines from Majestic. Good merchants Majestic. Yes you have to buy a case, mixed or otherwise, but their range is good and the offers frequently excellent, and they deliver for free!
Anyway, on with the wines...
Muga Rosado 2006 (Rioja, Spain)(£5.99 each when you buy two or more) Rose has been the BIG thing in the UK over the last few years, showing growth of over 30% in the last year alone. This fine fellow is from arguably Rioja's finest producer, Muga and is produced from two red varieties, Garnacha (Grenache in France),Tempranillo (the mainstay of red Rioja) and Viura (the white grape used in the best whites). Typically Muga have avoided the temptation so rife in wine making these days to produce a wine the size of the Jupiter and have instead gone elegance, charm and finesse.
Next up is the Vina Real 2004 Rioja Blanco (Rioja, Spain) (£6.99) Whites from Rioja, as with most of Spain, were up until recently, huge, ponderous affairs that were made with so much oak, you didn't so much pour yourself a glass as plane some off the surface of the cask! As I once noted when trying an 'old style' wine 'Colour: old chip fat. Nose: Old chip fat: Palate: See above!' These days' things are much more cheerful. This one is made from nothing but Viura and although aged in cask, it's time there has been kept to a few months rather than several ice ages, and as such it retains the fresh, yet weighty, apple, peach and nut flavours of the grape. This is another case of a wine that was it not so unfashionable it would totally unaffordable.
The next wine is a monster! The Cotes du Rhone Village Blanc, E. Guigal 2004/5 (Rhone Valley, France) (£6.49) E (Etienne) Guigal is, or rather was, quite possibly the greatest wine maker in the world. Anyone who has had the pleasure of trying one of his single vineyard Cote Rotie's (La Mouline, La Landonne or La Turque (a snip at £400 a bottle)) would almost certainly agree. Since his passing in the late 1990's his family have continued in his great footsteps and continued to expand the domaine's holdings, including the introduction of this, their 'basic' white. Created from a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and a touch of Viognier grapes taken from all over the Rhone, this wine is typically large in scale, rich, mouthfilling and, given its price, excellent value for money.
On to reds now. Marsannay 2000 (Chateau de Marsannay, Burgundy, France) (£7.99 each when you buy two or more) Mature red burgundy for only £...nice try, but I'm not going to tell you! Marsannay is the first village in the famed Cote d'Or and lays a limestone's throw from vineyards such as Gevrey Chambertin. In common with those mighty, and often mightily over-priced wines, Marsnanay is made from the noblest grape in the world, Pinot Noir, and carries a good weight of raspberries, strawberries and woodland fruits. This one gives a tantalising taste of the wines from further south and will, if you have a cellar and self-restraint so to do, age for another three-five years.
The Mas des Bressades Cabernet-Syrah 2004 (Vins du Pays de Gard, France) (£6.79 each when you buy two or more) is an interesting wine this for many reasons. Firstly the blend; were this made of the more usual 'work horse' grapes of Grenache and Cinsault, it might well have gained Appellation Controlee status of the Costiere de Nimes which lays in the hinterland where the Rhone borders Provence, but having included Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape that is not allowed in these AC wines, it has to settle for the lesser Vin de Pays, or country wines, designation. For me this is one of the great blends. Cabernet with its lively, blackcurrants and mint notes melds brilliantly the rather more low-key tones of Syrah and gives a feisty wine of real character and depth. So there!
La Motte Shiraz 2004 (Franschhoek, South Africa)(£7.99 each when you buy two or more) Franschhoek, pronounced, erm, Franschhoek, is a small-ish wine growing area that lies some eight hundred miles from Cape Town and is one that was originally settled by the Hugenot settlers in the fifteenth century (so much for the 'New World'). It is a high lying, damp, by South African standards, region that was originally famed for whites. La Motte however sees the dreadful soils here more suited to whites and in my experience they might have a point. Years ago this wine was called 'Syrah', but in light of the rush for the Australianized version of the name, it too has re-branded. Happily the wine is just as good as it ever was and delivers barrow-loads of crushed black berry and cherry fruit, hints of currants, nudges of vanilla and an accent of vanilla spoken with an almond accent!
Do check out www.majesticwine.co.uk, you'll be so glad you did.