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The Wine GangWe were really pleased that The Wine Gang took some time to come and sample a selection of wines at our Fine Wine Centre in St John’s Wood recently. Here’s what they had to say about the tasting and the wines they tasted:

“The quality of the wines in this tasting was very impressive. This tasting was held in Majestic’s Fine Wine Centre in its St John’s Wood, London store, from where orders for fine wine are often sent out by courier. If you order fine wine online at least 6 bottles of the minimum 12-bottle order must be fine wine. If you buy in store (nearly half have a fine wine range of over 30 wines), you can buy just one fine wine in your minimum 6-bottle purchase. The plan is for all stores to have a fine wine range within two years.”

Whites

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 2007Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 2007
Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhône), France
Dry White (Cork), 14.0% abv

A remarkable wine from vines that are not far short off their 70th birthday. Sumptuous and rich in texture, but at the same time beautifully fresh and intense, with apples, pears, apricots and a touch of orange. A fabulously rich wine for which, admittedly, it helps to be fabulously rich, unless someone else is paying. Put it on your Christmas list. It’s on ours.
One of this month’s Five Greatest Wines

95/100 − £65.00*

Willi Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbinger Heilingenstein Alte Reben 2008Willi Bründlmayer Riesling Zöbinger Heilingenstein Alte Reben 2008
Kamptal, Austria
Dry White (Cork), 13.5% abv

Dazzling aromas of apricots, peaches and fresh green fruit and a concentrated, vivid palate with intense, floral, apricot fruit and a powder-soft, rounded texture leading into a long, stony, mineral finish. Ah, the joy of old vines.

94/100 − £35.00*

Domaine Martelet de Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny 2007Domaine Martelet de Cherisey Puligny-Montrachet, 1er Cru Hameau de Blagny 2007
Puligny-Montrachet (Burgundy), France
Dry White (Cork), 14.0% abv

Powerful, young Puligny with nutty oak and apple aromas and a rich, dense, concentrated palate cut through by steely acidity. It can be drunk now, but another year would allow it to open up a bit more.

92/100 − £40.00*

Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 2008Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet 2008
Puligny-Montrachet (Burgundy), France
Dry White (Cork), 13.0% abv

Impressive village-level (ie not Premier Cru) Puligny. Grilled hazelnuts and candied citrus peel on the nose and a rich but steely palate with crème fraîche, wheatmeal, honey and lemon peel flavours. Benchmark burgundian Chardonnay. Drink over the next four years.

92/100 − £22.00*

Inama Soave Classico Vigneto du Lot 2008Inama Soave Classico Vigneto du Lot 2008
Soave (Veneto), Italy
Dry White (Cork), 13.0% abv

New-wave, single-vineyard Soave made entirely from Garganega grapes. One-third of the juice was fermented in new oak to add richness, suppleness and a nutty, straw flavour to the fresh, perfumy, apple and lemon fruit and the riper, peach notes. On offer until the end of the month: £15.99 when you buy two or more bottles.

91/100 − £19.99*

Au Bon Climat 'Bien Nacido Vineyard' Chardonnay 2007Au Bon Climat ‘Bien Nacido Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2007
Santa Maria Valley (California), United States
Dry White (Cork), 13.5% abv

Au Bon Climat’s Bien Nacido has established itself as a California classic and 2007 is no exception. It has an appetising, wheaty, nutty nose, a rich yet lively palate, with a flavour and texture of lemon oil and well-knit toasty, spicy oak with a hint of cloves.

90/100 − £19.99*

Jermann Dreams 2006Jermann Dreams 2006
IGT Venezia Giulia (Friuli), Italy
Dry White (Cork), 13.5% abv

Dreams is Silvio Jermann’s revered barrel-fermented Chardonnay, a sort of homage to Côte d’Or Burgundy made in Italy’s northeast corner. In some ways we felt this 2006 was looking more Californian in style, with its deep colour and rich, honeyed, butterscotch and cashew nut flavours. Although there is a freshening note of acidity, we were a bit worried by the oxidative, mature notes in this wine, hence the high bronze, rather a higher score.

88/100 − £35.00*

Reds

Pierre Benetière Côte Rôtie 'Cordeloux' 2007Pierre Benetière Côte Rôtie ‘Cordeloux’ 2007
Côte Rôtie (Rhône), France
Dry Red (Cork), 12.5% abv

Stellar Côte Rôtie – medium-bodied, yet concentrated, aromatic, vibrant and pure in flavour, supple and silky in texture. Classic Syrah aromas and flavours of freshly ground pepper, stones, minerals and sweet red berries, but with a flavour of the place that makes it so much more than just another high-quality, modern Syrah. Delicious now, but could be cellared another ten years.
One of this month’s Five Wines to lay down

94/100 − £35.00*

Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Tinto Gran Reserva Especial 2001Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Tinto Gran Reserva Especial 2001
Rioja, Spain
Dry Red (Cork), 14.0% abv

The top line from the legendary Murrieta estate, one of Rioja’s most traditional and largest. Although maturation time in barrel is shorter than it used to be, it’s still long, but when there’s the depth of flavour that there is here, the result is richly aromatic, assertive and complex. With its cedary, spicy freshness, this wine will sustain for a great many years.

94/100 − £35.00 Buy 2 bottles save £10 = £30*

Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2003Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Eden Valley (South Australia), Australia
Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv

One of Australia’s great Cabernets, or rather a Cabernet-dominated Bordeaux-style blend from the high, cool Eden Valley. It manages to be both powerful and elegant, with intense, spicy, blueberry and blackberry fruit and a cool note of fresh bay. It’s rich, dense and chocolaty, but supple and refined. Drink or cellar for a decade.

93/100 − £45.00*

Château La Croix de Gay Pomerol 2002Château La Croix de Gay Pomerol 2002
Pomerol (Bordeaux), France
Dry Red (Cork), 12.5% abv

The 2002 vintage in Bordeaux is one of the more modest of the decade, but some of the wines have been lovely and still are. This Pomerol is one of them. It has a fragrant, ripe nose with some more mature, nutty notes and a palate that is succulent and rounded with sweet-plum fruit, chocolate, cedar and velvety tannins.

92/100 − £30.00*

Muga Rioja Reserva Selección Especial 2005Muga Rioja Reserva Selección Especial 2005
Rioja, Spain
Dry Red (Cork), 14.0% abv

Sweet nose with a resiny, sappy freshness, spicy oak and vanilla; concentrated, structured, pure and well-defined, with red fruits freshness rounded out with creamy, vanilla-oak flavour. Modern, yet unerringly Rioja. Drink over the next eight years. On offer until August 30, 2010 at £20 when you buy two or more bottles.

92/100 − £22.00*

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2004Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany), Italy
Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv

A complex nose with a fruit-derived sweetness contrasting with smoky, gamy, savoury notes and a suggestion of leather and bitter chocolate. The palate is dense and chewy with an undertow of sweet fruit, fresh acidity, marzipan richness and grainy tannins.

91/100 − £25.00*

Bohorquez 2005 Ribera del DueroBohórquez Ribera del Duero 2005
Ribera del Duero, Spain
Dry Red (Cork), 14.0% abv

Deep, concentrated, full-bodied and still young, as is the Bohórquez operation, for whom this is only the fourth vintage. There’s an impressive intensity to the fruit and layers of cedar, spice and chocolate underscored by fine, structured tannins. The main grape is Tempranillo, as you’d expect, but with some Cabernet and Merlot in the background. A bodega to watch.

90/100 − £25 or Buy any 2 still Spanish wines £5 – £25 save 25% = £18.75*

Château Rauzan-Ségla 2002Château Rauzan-Ségla 2002
Margaux (Bordeaux), France
Dry Red (Cork), 13.0% abv

This wasn’t showing quite as well as we expected, but it was perhaps a case of this particular bottle, which had a bit of a leathery whiff and was slightly leaner, drier and chewier than we felt it should be. On the plus-side there was a perfumy sweetness, ripeness and supporting oak. Not one of the great Rauzan-Séglas, but a good bottle of claret all the same.

89/100 − £45.00*

Littorai Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006Littorai Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006
Mendocino County (California), United States
Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv

Littorai and owner-winemaker Ted Lemon have a high reputation for Burgundy-style wines, but we weren’t completely bowled over by this one from a cool Anderson Valley vineyard. It has an attractive red-berry brightness on the nose with muted floral spicy, red-berry fruit, coffee flavours and toasty oak, but we sensed both a hint of under-ripeness and a slightly baked edge. Good but not great.

88/100 − £52.00 Buy 2 Littorai wines save £10 = £47*

Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot 2006Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot 2006
Napa Valley (California), United States
Dry Red (Cork), 14.5% abv

This is sumo-wrestler style Merlot – powerful and fleshy, ripe, concentrated, oaky and alcoholic. The fruit is at the crème de cassis/blackberry jam end of the spectrum and there’s lots of oak and even more tannin. It’s firm, chewy and big, but it is balanced, albeit in its uncompromising style.

88/100 − £35.00*

Champagne

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Cave Privée 1990Champagne Veuve Clicquot Cave Privée 1990
Champagne, France
Sparkling White (Cork), 12.0% abv

One of the wines from the newly launched Cave Privée collection of old vintages from the cellars. A collector’s item, but be warned: old Champagne is not to everybody’s taste. This has a rich nose, with oxidative, sherryish notes alongside sweet macaroon and patisserie. There’s tightness and concentration to the palate, a piercing orange marmalade flavour and a long, very dry finish.

91/100 − £100.00*

Dessert

Maculan Acininobili Bianco Passito 2004Maculan Acininobili Bianco Passito 2004
Veneto, Italy
Sweet White (Cork), 13.0% abv

Yes, this is £45 for a half-bottle, but it’s so opulent, sweet and concentrated that it feels like several bottles compressed into one. The botrytised grapes – mostly Vespaiola – are picked berry by berry and the wine is aged in new French oak, like a top Sauternes. It has a rich, nutty, oaky, almost rancio nose, luscious flavours of chocolate, apricots and piercingly fresh candied-peel and an unctuous, oily texture.

94/100 − £45.00*

See all the Wine Gang’s Majestic reviews

*All prices valid until 1st November 2010. Please note – some of these Fine Wines will be available in extremely limited quantities and may no longer be available online.

The Wine Gang provides the UK’s most comprehensive independent coverage of wines available for sale in the UK. Formed by five of the UK’s sharpest palates and best-known wine commentators, the Gang is Tim Atkin MW of The Observer, Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com, Anthony Rose of The Independent, Joanna Simon of House & Gardens and Olly Smith of BBC1′s Saturday Kitchen.

The Wine Gang

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