Majestic is one of the few remaining wine specialist retailers left on the high street and it's back on form.

It was as if they had never been away.  The first Majestic tasting I have been to for at least a year was like waking up after a nightmare.

Ever since the mail-order specialist Naked Wines managed a reverse take over of one of the UK’s best-loved chain of wine shops, Majestic, back in 2015, the whole range and their way of working has been difficult to understand.

As one of the High Street’s few remaining specialist wine retailers Majestic should have been a good match for Naked, a mail-order wine seller with a habit of supporting small wine producers, but it was an unhappy marriage.  At one point Majestic stores were threatened with closure as Naked planned to focus on-line only.  There was even a ‘blink and you missed it’ transformation of Majestic’s Wakefield store as it was branded to Naked and then just a few months later rebranded back to Majestic.

There was a period of confusing overlap, but the two businesses never properly merged, so now Naked has sold off Majestic and all its 180 stores to a private equity firm. They managed to make quite a profit on the deal and they have gone off to spend their gains in the lucrative American market, while still keeping the Naked UK operation busy as before.  Now with new owners, Majestic has appointed a new buying director and the focus is on what Majestic does best, cementing their reputation as a key specialist wine retailer.

The result of all those corporate deals is that the 11 Majestic stores in Yorkshire, are here to stay and that their enthusiastic, well-trained staff still make them some of the best places to buy wine.

If you have been confused by all the recent changes at Majestic, try walking into a store and browsing the shelves.  There is a lot of good stuff in there. You can buy just one bottle, but there are significant discounts if you buy a mixed six-pack of bottles.  Those are the prices I quote below.

Meanwhile the Majestic website needs some work and there are distractions such as their subscription prices which may, or may not stay as the new owners get to grips with it all.

Here are a mixed dozen Majestic wines to try.

Whites

Caixas Albariño 2018, Rías Baixas, Spain, £8.99

Shining out of the glass as it always does, this has toasted apricot and citrus notes with just a hint of sea-salt freshness.  Try it with a plate of fresh prawns or a creamy seafood risotto.

Domaine de la Tourmaline 2018, Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire, France, £8.99

I stopped drinking Muscadet for so long that when I came back to it, I was astonished by its fresh, almost sea breeze aromas and yeasty, creamy flavours that go so well with a plateful of moules.

 

Emma Marris Sauvignon Blanc, 2018, Marlborough, £9.99

If you have tried The Ned Sauvignon made by Brent Marris, then this comes from the next generation of the same family, Emma Marris.  It is different in style from The Ned, has lovely lifted, fresh, gooseberry scented fruit and a long, lemony finish.

Montagny Vieilles Vignes Buxy 2018, Burgundy, France £9.99

Floral freshness on the nose with creamy peach and baked apple notes on the palate with a hint of nutty complexity on the finish.  Team with white fish or plain roast chicken.

Soave Classico Inama 2018, Italy, £13.99

Made from old vines grown on basaltic lava in the heart of the Soave region.  The result is a dry wine with floral notes, honey, almonds and apricots, and a surprisingly full texture and length.  Team with a fish pie.

Alheit Limited Release Chenin Blanc 2018, £14.99

Cartology, the first wine from Chris and Suzaan Alheit, shot to icon status back in 2012 and since then they have been the ones to follow.  By the same winemakers, this wine is a lot more affordable and it has all the right creamy honeysuckle aromas, ripe pear and peach notes with a backbone of lemon curd.

Reds

Alain Grignon Carignan Vieilles Vignes 2018, Pays de l’Herault, France, £6.99

40-year-old vines give deep flavours of raspberry and black cherry with a layer of spice and an easy, quaffing style.  Match with herb-spiked lamb.

Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Merlot 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile, £7.99

Simple, straightforward, highly enjoyable blackberry, cherry and plum flavours with supple tannins and a friendly finish.  These are Saturday night flavours at a Wednesday night price.

Viñalba Malbec-Touriga Nacional Reserve 2017, Mendoza, Argentina £9.99

Almost every retailer has some Viñalba labels on their shelves, a wine that has grown into a big brand without losing its distinctive, deep-flavoured quality.  I particularly like this version, blended with a generous splash of spice-edged Touriga Nacional which lends personality and vibrancy to the flavours.   It goes wonderfully with steak, but is equally good with a plate of sausages.

Rustenberg RM Nicholson 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa, £9.99

A rich tasting, cassis-loaded, pepper-edged Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot blend from one of the best estates in the Cape.  It is always worth keeping a couple of bottles of this in stock, just in case you decide to put beef on the Sunday lunch menu, and if you buy as part of a mix-six deal at Majestic, this is the best price around.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016, Masciarelli £11.99

Fleshy, juicy dark plums, cherries, sweet spice and just a hint of custard in this wine with a herbal twist on the finish.  Team it with anything meaty, such as lasagne or an autumn casserole.

Vieux Remparts Lussac St. Emilion 2016, Bordeaux, France, Magnum £20.99

The normal 75cl bottle is priced at £10.99 but ask your local branch if they have the magnum at £20.99. It will look so good on your table at any dinner party or even for the upcoming festive season.  It has supple blackberry and cranberry fruit with and edge of spice and the structure to stand up to roast lamb or even turkey with all the trimmings.

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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