Sunday, 28 November 2010

Majestic Wine - Part 1

Welcome to the first part of the Majestic Wine case, handpicked mixed-12 according to my rules. A quick summary of what I chose can also be found here:

We Had 3 reds and a white this time.

You can now follow my Tweets at!/WineBlogFrugal

By the way, for any new readers unfamiliar with my blog, please see my other posts over to the right and down a bit or read my introduction here:

Chateau Musar 2002

Lebanon may not be synonymous with wine to most of us (sadly, most of us probably are aware of it due to the war-torn political landscape), however, wine has been abundant here for over 6000 years and is even quoted in the Bible. From fertile plots, 1000m up in the Bekaa valley, the sons of the founder (Gaston Hochar) produce a unique blend every year, although heavily Cabernet dominated. 14% alcohol.

The Look: A deep, plummy purple with brick red edges and some brown hints, nicely showing its age..

The Smell: Powerful smell. Lots of aromas. Cabernet fruit, blackcurrant and some blackberry maybe some cherry with some tobacco and sweetness. Took on more blackberry aromas after a few hours.

The Taste: Decanted and hour before drinking: Initial taste is bright red fruit, suprisingly still very acidic but in a good way! Some blackcurrant, black cherry, some tannin and some spice. Good length. Plenty of life in this yet! After an hour or two, more blackberry fruit developed and jammy black fruit.

The Score: Still tannic and young but very good indeed. It should develop nicely over the next few years. 8/10. Highly Recommended.

VFM: At £17.99 a bottle this is was a treat and not really for "value drinking". The resulting VFM  is naturally low at VFM = 0.44 but at the case average of just £8.39 it is well-worth-it! (VFM = 0.95)

Finca Las Moras, Viognier, Mendoza, 2009
From the San Juan province of Argentina, typically hotter and drier than Mendoza. A big one here at 14% alcohol.

The Look: A pale medium-yellow.

The Smell: Some peach and mellon immediately apparent with also some floral smells and maybe some grapefruit or even pineapple.

The Taste: The taste was lovely initially, smooth mouthfeel, peach, plenty of fruit and acidity. However, there was a slight bitterness on the finish, somethin akin to chewing on orange rind, which let it down.

The Score: A bit rough around the edges, but a decent introduction to Viognier. 6/10.

VFM: At £5.99 a bottle you can't really argue with a VFM = 1.0. A decent, drinkable bottle but for £2 or £3 more you could get something a bit more pleasing.

Yarra Hils, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley 2008

A Cabernet from the cool climate Yarra Valley in South Eastern Australia. Matured for 6 months in French Oak. 13%% alcohol.

The Look: A deep, blackish purple, opaque but lightening to a violet at the rim.

The Smell: Quite an array of aromas; blackberry jam, graphite or wet stone, currants, some toffee and violets.

The Taste: Blackcurrants, violets with some blackberries and spice. At first it seemed a bit harsh but did mellow. More complex than I first thought.

The Score: Not too bad at all. Open an hour before drinking. 6.5/10.

VFM: At £7.49 a bottle this is pretty good value, giving VFM = 0.93.

Corona de Aragon, Shiraz, Cariñena, Spain, 2008
From Cariñena in Northwest Spain. Unusual to see a varietal Shiraz with Spain on the label., so this pricked my interest... Aged in American Oak 13.5% alcohol.

The Look: A very dark purple.

The Smell: Blackberries, raisins, coffee and graphite with a slight sweetness.

The Taste: Good taste, raisiny, blackberry, spice, good tannin and balanced acidity. Better after an hour with more intense blackberry and some spice developing.

The Score: Again, not too bad at all. 7/10. Recommended

VFM: At £7.49  a bottle this is again gives VFM = 0.93. Good value stuff!

So, not a bad start to the Majestic case. A lovely treat in the form of Musar 2002 and a good-value Shiraz from Spain. The other two were half decent. I look forward to supping on the rest of them. As always...

Speak to you soon.



Saturday, 27 November 2010

Air travel stops play...

Unfortunately, my suitcase did not travel back in the same plane that I did!

This meant that the Oddbins winter tasting last night was missed. Apologies to anyone who was looking forward to that. Bloody air travel.

Anyway, normal service will resume tomorrow with part 1 of the Majestic Wine case.

Speak to you soon.



Saturday, 20 November 2010

Mild disruption of service...

Don't worry, just a temporary delay. I have to jet off to Barcelona for a week with work, but I will be returning (hopefully) on Friday the 22nd for the Oddbins Winter Tasting.

Plenty of stuff coming up in the run-up to Christmas, namely;

- Oddbins Winter Tasting write-up - hopefully some gems you can pick up for yourself or as presents.

- Majestic Wine mixed-12 review (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

- A feature on and their Christmas mixed case

- Wine Investment the complete novice way - 6 months on after dipping our toes into the wine investment market, I'll let you know how we got on.

- Wines of the Year.

- What we're drinking over Christmas

Speak to you (quite) soon!



Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Majestic Wine - What I chose

Hi there, and welcome to a quick midweek update on what I chose from Majestic wine. As usual, for a mixed-12 I followed my rules (see here:).

To be honest, this was fairly hard even following my rules given Majestic's huge range of wines. Something for every palate and pocket; they're well worth a look: . As I've said previously, they've just won the Wine Merchant of the Year in the Decanter awards (again). They seem to have good offers on "buy two bottles get £x-off " and regular 20%-off-region promotions, although if you're after something in particular, it may be a while before it comes around on offer.

Anyway, enough waffling, here's what I got:

1. Sparkler – Codorniu, Seleccion Raventos NV Cava £6.99. A seemingly good bargain here, highly rated by customers (4.5 stars).

2. Rosé – Lawson's Dry Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé £9.99. A Rosé from Marlborough Pinot Noir!? Yes. Should be a beauty.

3. The “off the wall” one – Chateau Musar 2002 £17.99. "A Chateau in Lebanon?", I hear you ask? Yes. Really looking forward to this one...

4. Something for the cellar (or wardrobe) – Clos de los Siete 2008 £12.99. A collaboration between famous wine consultant Michel Rolland and six other Bordeaux winemakers to explore the terroir of Argentina (hence the "Siete" or 7 - although one pulled-out and there are now six!).

5. Old World White #1 – Marques de Caceres, Rioja Blanco, 2009 £7.99. White Rioja normally goes for a lot more than this, but I thought I'd try it in search of value.

6. Old World White #2 – Verdiccio dei Castelli di Jesi, 2009 £7.49.Again, another potential bargain. We wanted to try the Verdiccio grape last time at Oddbins but forgot!

7. Old World Red #1 – Corona de Aragon, Shiraz, Carinena, 2008 £7.49. Never had a pure Shiraz from Spain before and this appeared to be a bargain hailing from the "up-and-coming" Carinena region of North-West Spain. Sun drenching should give it big flavour but hopefully they've tamed the alcohol?

8. Old World Red #2 – E Guigal, Cote du Rhone, 2006 £9.99. Probably one of the Rhone's most famous producers. His Cote-Roties and Condrieus go for very serious money indeed, well above my price point, however, this entry-level village wine should provide a glimps of the majic. Well, that's what I'm hoping anyway.

9. New World White #1 – Villa Maria, Private Bin Riesling, 2009 £7.99. Having really enjoyed this producer's wines in the past I thought I'd try the entry-level Riesling.

10. New World White #2 – Finca Las Moras, Viognier, San Juan £5.99. Real bargain basement here. From the San Juan province of Mendoza in Argentina. It could be a bargain or mass-produced guff. We won't know until we try...

11. New World Red #1 – Yarra Hills, Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley 2008 £7.49. Cool (ish) climate Cabernet from Australia's Yarra Valley. Again, a possible bargain.

12. New World Red #2 – Neblina, Carmenere, Central Valley, 2009 £5.99. Again, another possible bargain from Chile.

So that's it for the mixed-12. As you can see there's a definite theme of bargain hunting going on, most are well under £10 so should provide value drinking at the least. This is because I had to make room in my wallet for a few Christmas luxuries and some bottles for the wardrobe, ahem, I mean "Cellar"...

I also got:

Heidsick Gold Top Vintage 2004 Champagne for £20 - bargain.
Catena Malbec, 2008 - Always been enamoured with the adverts for Catena in Decanter magazine and wanted to try it. The Zapata goes for £40+ a bottle. I was a little more modest and kept to the 2 for £8.99 (normally £11.99).
Matetic EQ Syrah 2008 - Recent gold medal winning Syrah from Chile's Organic producer Matetic. £22. *Ouch*. But I will be putting this away for a (very) special occasion.
And lastly, some Vina Mayu Reserva Syrah 2006 - again, Gold medal winning stuff here for £11.99 a bottle.

So I'll let you know how we get on with these as soon as we drink them up.

Speak to you soon!



Sunday, 14 November 2010

Oddbins - Final Part & Case Summary

Welcome to the final part of the Oddbins case, handpicked mixed-12 according to my rules. We finish off with a Rosé, a Red and two Whites.

You can now follow my Tweets at!/WineBlogFrugal

By the way, for any new readers unfamiliar with my blog, please see my other posts over to the right and down a bit or read my introduction here:

Benchmark Rosé, South Australia, 2009
This Rosé is produced by Grant Burge and is made from 100% Shiraz.  13% alcohol.

The Look: Quite an intense raspberry red, which hopefully, you can see from the picture!

The Smell: Bright red fruit with some toffee apple and some citrus. Definitely some Pinot or Gamay hints as well.

The Taste: Quite an array of flavours - apple, strawberry, some raspberry and spice. There's a definite sweetness (off-dry) but also some acidity and minerality. There are hints of white wine - the citrus, acidity and minerality and red wine with the darker fruit and spice. A sort-of halfway house if you can't decide between either!

The Score: Good, but just shy of a recommendation. 7/10.

VFM: At £8.49 a bottle this gives pretty good value for money at VFM = 0.82.


El Furioso, Tempranillo, Castilla Y Leon, 2007

100% Tempranillo here from Spain's Castilla Y Leon region. This has undergone ageing in steel vats for 6 months rather than oak barrel.  An Oddbins' exclusive. 12.5% alcohol.

The Look: A medium ruby-red with some tawny brown and a light purple at the rim. Not opaque.

The Smell: The initial smell was quite reticent, some red berries and cherry. Some sweetness and spice. After a few hours though it developed a lovely smell of coffee and tobacco.

The Taste: The initial taste right out of the bottle is very spicy, bright, acidic red fruit with a distinct cherry taste on the finish. Smooth in the mouth and still quite tannic. Not loads of flavour. However, after an hour or two and with food it really opened up - darkened with more black fruit and coffee with just a hint of bitterness. 

The Score: A good food wine. It may age well but check it often. 7/10. Maybe in a year or two it will have improved and get a recommendation.

VFM: At £6.49 a bottle you really can't go wrong! Great value at VFM = 1.08.


DeBertoli, Vat 7 Chardonnay, South East Australia, 2008

A barrel fermented Chardonnay here from a "Big Name".12.5% alcohol.

The Look: A pale lemony yellow.

The Smell: Quite sharp - citrus, tropical fruit, grapefruit minerality.

The Taste: Nice creamy smooth mouth feel, plenty of fruit, good acidity and a long refreshing grapefruity mineral finish. Went great with a creamy Stroganoff that D made. On the second glass it softened, creamier, more mellon and peach tastes, almost Viognier-like.

The Score: Lovely. Nothing wrong with it at all. 7.5/10. Recommended

VFM: At £9.99 a bottle this gives pretty good value for money at VFM = 0.75.


Andrian, Gewurztraminer, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, 2009

I have to admit, I know little of this wine. From the Italian side of the Alps bordering on Austria. A big white at 14% alcohol.

The Look: A lovely golden yellow with light green tints.

The Smell: A powerful nose, chock-full of aromas. Elderflower, Lychees, melon, peach and some other floral whiffs. Really one of the best-smelling wines we've had for a while!

The Taste: A lovely burst of fruit, tangy, tingly acidity. Smooth mouthfeel drenched in lychee, peach and reminiscent of elderflower-wine. Exotic. D reckons "strange"! Very alluring - you want more...

The Score: Very good indeed 8/10. Highly Recommended

VFM: At £15.49 a bottle this is pretty steep. Use your 20% off wisely! Before discount gives VFM = 0.52 but at the case average of just £8.14 it is well-worth-it! (VFM = 0.98)


So that's it. Oddbins done and dusted. Out of 12 wines - 1 Corked, 3 Highly Recommended and 5 Recommended. That is a bloody good testament to their range. I'm sad to see them go because there were some great wines (we'll definitely be going back!) but glad that I had them. Next up is Majestic wine...

Speak to you soon.



Sunday, 7 November 2010

Oddbins Part 2.5

Welcome to the second part of the second part (if that makes any sense!) of the Oddbins case, handpicked mixed-12 according to my rules. Again a quickie - only two bottles this week. Apologies for the pictures, I was at the mother-in-law-to-be's for these and didn't have my camera so had to make do with the mobile.

By the way, for any new readers unfamiliar with my blog, please see my other posts over to the right and down a bit or read my introduction here:

Casillero del Dioblo, Pinot Noir, Chile, 2009

Owned by the large "Concha Y Toro" brand. Picked from several vineyards in the Cassablanca Valley. It has had some maturing in French Oak barrels for 8 months. 13.5% alcohol.

The Look: Bright raspberyy-red with lipstick-red highlights.

The Smell: Very fruity smell. Red fruit squash and an uncanny smell of "Ribena".

The Taste: Again, bright strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some spice, doubtless from the Oak-ageing. Alcohol was a little too hot and overpowering. The acidity was also maybe a little bit too harsh. We had this pre-dinner and the mother-in-law-to-be enjoyed it (not normally a red drinker) and D liked it too.

The Score: Not too bad. A tasty, fruity, value quaffer but lacking in any sort of finesse. 6.5/10.

VFM: At £7.49 a bottle this gives good value for money at VFM = 0.88.


Familia Zuccardi Reserva Bonarda, Mendoza, 2008
One of the oldest winemaking families in Argentina.Their "Zeta" Malbec blend sells fro £30+ a bottle. This is a little more affordable but hopefully from a good heritage nonetheless.Sourced from the arid Santa Rosa vineyard which is practically a desert and Oak-aged for 10 months. 13.5% alcohol.

The Look: Quite a deep plum-purple, not quite opaque but almost.

The Smell: Smells of lovely dark black fruit and some spicy Oak. Couldn't really pick out any strawberries or raspberries  (as described by the online tasting note) but the kitchen was filled with the smell of D's awesome lamb dinner cooking so maybe they were there?

The Taste: Lovely creamy mouthfeel. Balanced acidity, fruit and tannin. Strong black cherry finish with some vanilla, spice and warmth. It was great with the lamb dinner and rich gravy, it didnt lose any flavour or overpower the food. Not normally a match with lamb but for the lack of a Cabernet we had it anyway!

The Score: Good wine. Decent value. Not a lot else needs to be said.  7.5/10. Recommended

VFM: Normally £8.99 a bottle giving decent value at VFM = 0.83.


So, 8 out of 12 sunk and going strong. We'll hopefully have a bit more time to relax this week and should complete the reviews of the Oddbins case in the normal style of 4-bottles per posting. Soon I'll be ordering from Majestic Wine. No discounts or vouchers per se, but with an exceptional range of wines they have once again won the Decanter retailer of the year award - so I must take a look.

Speak to you soon.