Sunday, 4 August 2013

Majestic's cheap and very cheerful.

This weekend has involved a lot of wine-related activities. It started on friday evening, when my wife and I realised the 'everyday' wine rack was running low. Very dangerous indeed!

So we hot-footed it down to Majestic wines, as we'd not bought from them in a while. I'd heard on the grape vine (sorry) that they had The Ned back in stock. I'd never tried it before, but everything I've read has been very positive. With an open mind I thought I should "get me some o' that", as they say.

We spent a good 45 minutes to an hour in the shop, perusing the shelves and actually tasting a small selection available for sampling. I say we, what I mean is, I studied bottles for ages and my wife waited patiently, having chosen some wines she wanted to try in about 5 minutes. She's very patient with me.

For everyday wines, I like getting a selection from various countries, regions and grape varieties. When doing this, I try to by at an average of less than £10 per bottle, which this time, we managed comfortably, yay bank balance! This means that if I fancy a couple of £6 bottles (quality much harder to find these days, at this price level), then I can also pick up a couple of £14 bottle to balance the scales. (I'm good at maths! Apparently, there are three types of people in this world. There are those who can count, and those who can't! sorry again).

We bought a bunch of stuff, including a couple I can't wait to try, and a couple we have tried this weekend and wish to tell the reader(s?) about now. The two in particular that won't be in the rack much more than this next week are;

The Chateau l'Abbaye de Sainte-Ferme, 2005 Bordeaux Superieur. This was praised by the staff for being great value (£8). It promises to be a well made, mature Bordeaux from a great vintage. I'm looking forward to it.

A 2000 C. H. Berres late harvested Mosel Riesling. I've been wanting to have a go at a mature Mosel Riesling for a bit, and although not expensive at £10, this was worth a punt. I hope it's as complex as the German on the label!

And so, we move on to the main events. I'd like to bestow the virtues of another two great value wines from Majestics. The first is The 2013 Ned Waihopai River, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The hype seems to be right, for a change, and this Ned is great. A white wine that is most refreshing, and went beautifully with a creamy pasta dish I made tonight. It is reasonably pale in the glass, only a hint of greenish yellow. Not surprisingly, a young, fresh wine like this is virtually straight off the vines. It has a lovely, vibrant citric nose, with elements of gooseberries, and green-grass aromas. The palate is smooth, and again citric flavours fill the mouth. There is a lovely, slightly tart edge to those, again, the gooseberries. The finish is pretty long and textured. The acidity of the wine is just about right, and not overpowering. It cut through the rich creamy sauce of our dinner perfectly. At £8 per bottle, this is another good find. A lovely wine for matching with richer foods. It may be too much for more delicate fishes, but I wouldn't be against trying it.

Next, we move back in time to yesterday evening. I was cooked a tomato and basil mince-beef 'thing' that my wife made up. It was really delicious, even if it doesn't have a name. To go with it, I tried the Rioja Crianza, 2009, Gran Vendema. I have had this before, and remember it being very quaff-able. This time around, with food, it was simple stunning. It doesn't have massive fruit concentration or complexity, it's not a big wine with a point to prove. It is though, a well made example of a Rioja. It is lovely and smooth and really easy-drinking. It went especially well with dinner also. On the nose, it was fairly 'classic Rioja'. It had notes of  lighter red fruit, strawberries and maybe a little raspberry. It also had a fairly good lump of oaky vanilla (I'd wager American, but only a quid), combined with a bit of spice. On the palate, it had a good level of fruit sweetness, again ripe red fruits, with a little cherry. It was medium bodied with very clean, easy-going tannins, resulting in a lightly chewy mouthfeel, and good acidity. The finish was great, with good length and the renowned pepperiness one expects from a Rioja. The Gran Vendema is simply amazing value at £6.50. It isn't anything posh, but I don't think it's trying to be. The oak and bottle aging required for the crianza label, imparts enough complexity to create an interesting wine. Although not pushing the envelope in any department, it is well balanced and well structured. I'm glad I bought two!

Having reported the cheaper selection of wines bought in this case, extolling their virtues, or potential virtues, I really cannot wait to try the more expensive bottles i also purchased. If you, as the reader, visit Majestic Wines in the near future, I hope I've provided some sort of a starting point for you, and maybe one or two wines to try.

Writing this post has put a thought in my head. It poses a question; Why did I buy more expensive wines, when I'm very pleased with the cheaper ones!? Well, at the time, I didn't know how good the wines would be. We'll have to wait and see what the more expensive additions have to say for themselves in response...

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