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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
30 Jun 2016

30 June 2016  For today's Throwback Thursday, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at how the range and prices of the UK's biggest specialist wine retailer have evolved over the last seven years. See Majestic v Oddbins

27 April 2009 The following collection of 65 wines retailing at £3.99 to £60 a bottle are all currently offered by Majestic, the British chain of wine warehouses that recently acquired Lay & Wheeler, thereby dramatically improving its en primeur allocations of burgundy and Rhône wines. It is clear that Majestic is keen to make greater inroads into the profitable fine-wine market and I was very impressed by Majestic's last fine-wine tasting

This more humdrum selection was much more varied in quality and excitement - although their buyers still show aptitude at picking up bargains. Note, for example, the Crasto Douro red that was the best wine in the last selection of wines I tasted chez Sainsbury's but was dropped by that supermarket soon afterwards. Also worth noting is the Haselgrove McLaren Vale Shiraz, which can be picked up at £4.99 if you buy it between 9 Jun and 3 Aug, and tastes more like a wine that should retail at double that. There are also a couple of wines retailing at £3.99 that are really quite decent considering the price.

The minimum purchase is, usefully for Majestic, 12 bottles. This wine retailer has been much more successful than most chains of wine retailers (other than the supermarkets - see Tesco's record profits announced last week), not least because of their regular series of special offers on specific countries' wines. Please note that the discounts noted below are offered during differing periods over the next few months. These tasting notes are presented in the order Majestic chose to show them - although, as I often do, I tasted the reds before the whites, partly because I find whites less demanding to taste in quantity.

As usual, GV denotes particularly good-value wines, of which there are all of a dozen below, some of them quite low in alcohol. See La Grille bottlings from the Loire, for example. I have also marked two wines VGV for very good value, one of them an Australian white bargain, Yering Frog Chardonnay, that was looking even better last week in London than when I tasted it in Australia in March, as described in Eminent Victorians.


Foraci, Tre Cupole Grillo 2008 IGT Sicilia 14.5 Drink 2009
Hot and sweaty on the nose. Watery on the palate. Not for me. 12%
£5.99 or £4.79 on 'Buy any 2 Italian wines save 20%' Majestic

Monte Schiavo 2008 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 15.5 Drink 2009
Creamy nose with quite a bit of gentle, smoothed fruit on the palate - but not quite enough freshness. 13%
£6.99 or £5.59 'Buy any 2 Italian wines save 20%' Majestic


Dom de la Tourmaline 2008 Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 14.5 Drink 2009
Appley and light. I'd been hoping for more guts. Pinched finish. 12%
£6.49 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Dom du Pré Baron Sauvignon 2008 Touraine 16 Drink 2009
Wow! Very pungent nose. Very Franco-Kiwi - lots of fruit. Not the most authentic wine for Loire purists but it delivers in spades. 13%
£6.99 or £6.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Caves de Pouilly-sur-Loire, Les Aupières 2008 Coteaux de Giennois 15 Drink 2009
Sweet and a bit dull. Especially when tasted just after the Dom du Pré Baron. 12%
£7.99 or £6.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Claude Lafond, Le Clos du Château 2008 Valençay 16 Drink 2009-11
A blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Chardonnay.
A little bit of sulphur on the nose - and you don't smell that very often nowadays.. But nice fresh, off dry fruit on the palate. Zippy and quintessentially northern French. Good balance. 12.5%
£7.99 or £7.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Henri Beurdin 2008 Reuilly 15 Drink 2009
Tired nose. Off dry. Not really zippy and pure enough. 12.5%
£7.99 or £7.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Dom du Manay 2008 Menetou-Salon 15.5 Drink 2009
Racy and lively enough. 12.5%
£9.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Gwénaël Guihard, La Grille Cool Fermented Chenin Blanc 2008 Anjou 16 Drink 2009
I admire Charles and Philippa Sydney, the couple behind La Grille, for giving due prominence to the growers behind their selections, but this one is a real nightmare to spell correctly. Couldn't they choose a nice, common name like Jancis? Very pale but very pure and delicate and fresh. Appley, but not malic. Very refreshing summer wine. Just a hint of low-temperature fermentation aromas. GV. 11%
£5.99 Majestic


Dourthe, La Grande Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Bordeaux Blanc 15 Drink 2009
Very slight body odour. Cool and at the moment a little pinched. Then rather watery. Not nearly as good as Dourth No 1. 12.5%
£7.99 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


Beaux Galets, Blanc 2008 Vin de Pays d'Oc 15 Drink 2009
Light cardboard on the nose. Clean enough on the palate but it's difficult to see much character here. The red is much better value. But this is serve-able. Not too sweet and (just) not too tart. 12%
£3.99 Majestic

Sensas Sauvignon 2008 Vin de Pays des Côtes du Tarn 14.5 Drink 2009
A bit dull. 12%
£6.99 or £4.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4 Majestic

Dom de Ste-Rose, Le Vent du Nord Roussanne/Chardonnay 2007 Vin de Pays d'Oc 15 Drink 2009
Light and lively and a little salty with a hint of cloves. Nothing like the complexity of the Garrigues red.13%
£6.99 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic


Jean Bourguignon 2008 Chablis 14.5 Drink 2010
From a Nuits-St-Georges negociant and definitely not thrilling. A bit cardboardy on the nose and awfully tart on the palate. 11.5%
£9.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' (28 Apr - 8 Jun), and £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' (9 Jun - 3 Aug) Majestic

Dom de Mercey 2004 Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc
14.5 Drink 2010
Sweaty nose and a distinct lack of fruit, or character. No! 13%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic

Dom Cordier, Terroir de Charnay 2008 Mâcon 16.5 Drink 2009-11
Really rich and rewarding on the nose. So much better value than the Dom de Mercey! Real white burgundy savour and tingle and a beginning, middle and end to the tasting experience. GV. 13.5%
£9.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Jean Bourguignon 2006 Meursault 16 Drink 2009-12
From this Nuits-St-Georges négociant: well behaved and balanced white burgundy that is not a terrible value at the lower price but is a lttle bit dull for the higher one. 13%
£17.99 or £14.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £6' Majestic


Martin Codax, Albariño 2008 Rías Baixas 15 Drink 2009
Laurel leaf and very fesh - also very tart. Co-op wine. OK but not cheap. 12.5%
£10.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough 15 Drink 2009
A bit stinky and this seems really quite sweet. Not my cup of tea. But it is certainly of the genre. 13%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy any 2 New Zealand wines save 20%' Majestic

Saint Clair, Pioneer Block 6 Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Marlborough 16 Drink 2009-10
Some rather reductive stink on the nose then quite pure fruit and not too much residual sugar! Not bad. It might even last into a second year. 13%
£14.99 or £11.99 with 'Buy any 2 New Zealand wines save 20%' Majestic


Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Groenekloof 16.5 Drink 2009
Tasted immediately after some Marlborough Sauvignons, this seemed refreshingly bright-fruited and dry. Well done! Juicy and refreshing. A wine with a beginning, middle and end to its appeal. I saw this cited somewhere recently as one of the world's finest Sauvignon Blancs, in a new wine magazine called Tor(?), I think. 13%
£10.99 or £9.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic


Yering Frog Chardonnay 2007 Yarra Valley/Adelaide Hills/Mornington Peninsula 16.5 Drink 2009-10
Excellent value! Lively, refreshing, delicate, great texture. Too good for the money! VGV 12.5%
£7.99 or £6.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £3' Majestic

Shaw and Smith, M3 Chardonnay 2007 Adelaide Hills 16.5+ Drink 2009-13
Quite rich and well structured. Lightish though it should develop. Very youthful. 13.5%
£19.99 or £17.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


Neblina Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Central Valley 15 Drink 2009
Sweaty nose and then bright fruit and some juice and acidity. Not bad at the lower price. 13.5%
£4.99 or £3.99 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic

Errazuriz Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca Valley 15 Drink 2009
A bit sweet and green fruited on the palate. Not very sophisticated.13.5%
£6.24 or £4.99 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic

Errazuriz, Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007 Casablanca Valley 16 Drink 2009-12
Much richer and more interesting than the regular version noted above. Racy. Quite satisfying and brisk, though still not subtle. 13.5%
£10.99 or £8.79 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic


Domäne Wachau, Weingarten Weissenkirchen Grüner Veltliner 2008 Wachau 16 Drink 2009-10
Racy and clean and lively and excellent balance of fruit and acidity. Clean and zippy. An early drinking Grüner. Aperitif stuff. 12%
£7.99 or £7.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic


Loosen Bros, Dr L Riesling 2008 Mosel 16 Drink 2009-12
Cool and bright and zesty. Well balanced and very energising. Clean and bracing. Off dry. Jewel bright. 8.5% 
£6.99 Majestic

Margarethenhof, Ayler Kupp Riesling Kabinett 2008 Mosel 15 Drink 2009-10
Sweet and a bit simple. A hark back to the sort of underperforming German wines that have plagued Majestic's selection in the past. 9.5%
£7.99 Majestic

Dr Loosen, Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 2007 Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 16.5 Drink 2009-14
Earthy/slatey terroir-driven wine. Like a featherlight brush on the cheek. 7.5%
£11.99 Majestic


Jacques Vigier, La Grille Pinot Noir Rosé 2008 St-Pourçain 15 Drink 2009
Bit heavy and lolly. I can't really see much Pinot here but it is delicate and has a very pretty label. 12%
£5.99 or £5.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Dom Begude, Pinot Rosé 2008 Vin de Pays d'Oc 14.5 Drink 2009
Low-temperature fermentation. Lolly aromas. I couldn't really smell much Pinot Noir character. 11.5%
£7.49 or £6.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic

Chuchill Estates, Rosé 2008 Douro 16.5 Drink 2009
Light raspberry colour. Much lighter than Redoma Rosé but more positive than most rosés. This is summer in a bottle! For drinking with food because there is a hint of tannin here. Nice stuff with real character. 13%
£8.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Southbank, Sauvignon Blanc Rosé 2008 Marlborough 14.5 Drink 2009
Sauvignon Blanc plus a dash of Syrah! Not to be encouraged.
£7.49 or £5.99 with 'Buy any 2 New Zealand wines save 20%' Majestic

Ch Ste-Marguerite 2008 Côtes de Provence 16.5 Drink 2009-10
From La Londe-les-Maures.
Scented and dry with lovely balance. Superior, smoky stuff. Who needs Dom Ott? 13%


Louis Jadot 2008 Beaujolais-Lantignié 15.5 Drink 2010-12
Still very embryonic nose. Banana aromas and a bit inky. It may gain a bit more gravitas eventually? 13%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy any 2 Beaujolais wines save 20%' Majestic

Ch de la Terrière 2007 Beaujolais-Villages 16.5 Drink 2009
From Les Deux Châteaux.
Attractively scented. Lively and delicate and beautifully balanced for drinking in the new few months. 13%
£8.69 or £6.95 with 'Buy any 2 Beaujolais wines save 20%' Majestic


Jacques Vigier, La Grille Pinot Noir 2007 St-Pourçain 16 Drink 2009
This does smell of Pinot Noir - which is quite an achievement at this price - though it's pretty tart and light. Lunchtime Pinot?! GV. 12%
£5.99 or £5.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £1' Majestic


Vincent Baron, Les Grands Trinquiers 2005 Bourgogne Rouge 14 Drink 20
Bottled in Beaujolais, Gamay from 'Greater Burgundy', hem hem. A bit souped up. Astringent finish. I can't even taste much Gamay. Best left probably unless you're looking for something that looks (but does not taste) a bit grander than its price tag. 12.5%
£5.99 or £4.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' (28 Apr - 8 Jun) Majestic

Buxy, Les Millières 2007 Côte Chalonnaise 15 Drink 2009-10
Light ruby. Countrified, mossy nose. Lots of acidity but attractive plump fruit on the front palate. I think you could find better Pinots at this price. 13%
£9.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' (28 Apr - 8 Jun) or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' (9 June - 3 Aug) Majestic


Jackson, Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2007, Marlborough 16 Drink 2009-11
Deep crimson - looks quite unlike a burgundy! Sweet start and then slightly sour on the finish but good fruit weight throughout. Not haunting but more complete than many Kiwi Pinots. 13.5%
£17.99 or £14.39 with 'Buy any 2 New Zealand wines save 20%' Majestic


Beaux Galets 2008 Vin de Pays de l'Herault 15.5 Drink 2009
Very deep blackish crimson. Doesn't look remotely like traditional cheap wine of the Languedoc. Lots of guts. Extraordinary value if the finished wine tastes as rich as this, but I am tasting from a bottle with a mocked up label so have asked to see an example of the finished wine. A little sweet but not sickly and with lots of guts.
From a bottle taken from the store: Blend of Merlot and Carignan, still very deep crimson. Defintely leaner on the nose and a little tighter and more acidic on the palate than the sample described above but this is still great value for lovers of French bargains. I'd guess it would best be drunk as soon as possible while the fruit is still vibrant, before Carignan's hardness creeps in. Not much finish but, hey…. VGV 12.5%
£3.99 Majestic

Paul Mas, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Vin de Pays d'Oc 16 Drink 2009-11
Barrel aged.
Very deep crimson. Ripe and sweet. Very four-square Cabernet - it ain't subtle - but it's honest and looks pretty smart. Verging on heavy bottle. 13.5%
£7.99 or £6.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £3' Majestic

Dom de Ste-Rose, La Garrigue Syrah/Grenache 2007 Vin de Pays d'Oc 16.5 Drink 2009-10
Interesting, quite complex nose for the money. Gentle tannins and no excesses. A great buy at the two-bottle price. GV. 14%
£6.99 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Haut-Lirou 2008 Languedoc, Pic-St-Loup 16 Drink 2010-13
Pretty minimalist labelling. Syrah with 10% each of Mourvedre and Grenache.
Still a baby. Sweet and gamey but not really ready to drink. Should repay keeping but the tannins are pretty fierce at the moment. 13.5%
£8.99 or £6.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic

Cazal Viel, Cuvée des Fées 2007 St-Chinian 15.5 Drink 2009-11
Unoaked Syrah - or rather, as the back label puts it in French, 'it hasn't undergone (subit) any barrel ageing'.
Mellow nose and palate, not so obviously Syrah on the nose. Less dramatic than some previous vintages. Serviceable rather than exciting. 13%
£8.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic


Ch l'Ermitage 2000 Listrac 16- Drink 2007-11
Fun to smell a wine with obvious bottle age in mass market distribution and at this price. A good moment to drink this, I should think. The fruit is still assertive and the tannins on the wane. Very slightly rustic but for claret devotees this is GV. 12.5%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' (9 Jun - 3 Aug) Majestic

Ch Tour du Haut-Moulin 2001 Haut-Médoc 16.5 Drink 2009-15
A distress parcel.
Very dark crimson. Vigorous and fresh - fresher fruit than the Listrac 2000 tasted immediately before it. Very attractive silky fruit. Great balance and polish. Drink or stash. GV. 13%
£10.99 Majestic

Ch Pichon Lalande (Comtesse), Les Gartieux de Pichon-Lalande 2001 St-Julien 16 Drink 2007-10
Young vines on the second growth estate. This wine used to go to the US but has now been taken up by Majestic.
Decent crimson. Indistinct nose and rather spiky, austere fruit, though a little touch of top quality (old) oak. The Tour du Haut-Moulin 2001 is definitely a better buy. The fruit on this wine is very soft. 12.5%
£19.99 Majestic


Charmasson, Plan de Dieu 2007 Côtes du Rhône-Villages 16 Drink 2009-12
Deep crimson. Co-op single village wine from the recently elevated and still rather unfamiliar village Plan de Dieu. Very herby and yet smooth. For relatively early drinking. All pleasure. Not the earthiest or longest living but GV at the special offer price. 14%
£7.99 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


Marco do Pegões 2007 Vinho Regional Terras do Sado Tinto 15 Drink 2009-10
'From the Jurassic seabed that makes up the plains east of Lisbon', according to the back label.
Quite dark crimson. Light, simple nose. Very soft fruit - archetypal sandy soil wine? This wouldn't convince someone who was not already converted to Portuguese wine, I fear, though it is not a bad price. 13.5%
£5.99 or £4.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic

Quinta de Crasto, Crasto 2007 Douro 17 Drink 2009-13
Dark crimson. Spicy nose and very complete. Real wine with great balance and a great sense of place. Is this the wine Sainsbury's delisted? Apparently so. They (Sainsbury's) must be mad. GV 13.5%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


D'Angelo, Sacravite Aglianico 2007 IGT Basilicata 17 Drink 2009-12
Spicy, and plumy. Most attractive nose. Lots of character and zip. Intense, savoury. Very grown up. Lovely persistence. Head for that special price! GV 13%
£9.99 or £7.99 with 'Buy any 2 Italian wines save 20%' Majestic


Yering Frog Pinot Noir 2007 Yarra Valley 15 Drink 2010
Light ruby. No nose. Sweet and sour on the palate. Then a bit too chewy. Not one of their finest vintages of this great-value wines. 13.5%
£7.99 or £6.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £3' Majestic

Scotchmans Hill, Swan Bay Pinot Noir 2007 Geelong 15.5 Drink 2009-11
Deep ruby. Bit charred and chewy on the finish. Correct but not exciting - a bit eviscerated.
£8.99 or £7.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £3' Majestic

Haselgrove, Cellar One Fifty Shiraz 2007 McLaren Vale 16.5 Drink 2009-12
Blackish purple. Interesting, multi-layered nose. Very well reined-in fruit. Savoury/salty with some mineral undertow like warm sandstone almost! Well done. No excesses of sugar, acid or tannin. 14.5%
£7.99,or £4.99 if you buy 2 bottles (June-Aug)


Five Rivers Pinot Noir 2006 Santa Barbara County 15 Drink 2009-10
Bottled by Fetzer.
Light ruby. Lean and beetrooty. Not sweet and heavy but not very satisfying either. 13.5%
£10.49 or £8.49 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £4' Majestic


Errazuriz, Wild Ferment Pinot Noir 2007 Casablanca Valley 15.5 Drink 2009-12
Oak rather too obvious here. Also almost a hint of Carmenere! (Green tomatoes). May develop into something more pleasing? 14.5%
£10.99 or £8.79 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic

Neblina Merlot 2008 Central Valley 14.5 Drink 2009
Concha y Toro make this for Majestic.
Dark crimson. Sweet and simple. A bit watery. The Beaux Galets at £3.99 delivers more. 12.5%
£4.99 or £3.99 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic

Concha y Toro, Quinta de Maipo Winemaker's Lot 401 Syrah 2008 Maipo Valley 16.5 Drink 2010-13
Pretty tarry nose and then sweet and mellow on the palate. Pretty good value! Lots of subtlety here so long as you are not looking for a copy of Côte Rôtie. Silky New World Syrah that clearly has a future. GV. Mock up label so no alcoholic strength but the final blend apparently.
£8.69 or £6.95 with 'Buy any 2 Chilean wines save 20%' Majestic


Viñalba, Reserva Malbec 2006 Mendoza 16.5 Drink 2009-13
Decanter's trophy for best red under £10 last year.
Rich and satisfying. Tarmacadam and rich spiciness but not syrupy. And there still seems to be enough (not too obtrusive) tannin for keept it going for a while yet. GV 14.5%
£9.99 or £8.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic


Romate Fino NV Jerez 14.5 Drink 2009
A bit too sweet and sweaty on the nose for me.
£6.99 or £5.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £2' Majestic


Lindauer, Special Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV New Zealand 15 Drink 2009
Tight and dense on the nose. Not the freshest of fruit on the palate though. Rather hard work - astringent.
£11.99 or £6.99 with 'Buy 2 bottles save £10' (9 Jun - 3 Aug) Majestic


Louis Roederer 2003 Champagne 16.5 Drink 2010-12
Big and bold on the nose. A bit broad and loose on the palate with some taste-able sweetness. Quite an astringent finish at the moment.
£60 or £45 with 'Buy 2 bottles save 25%' Majestic