With top-name châteaux wines on the shelves, fabulous, deep complex Burgundies and a fair sprinkling of limited-production Barolo and Barbaresco wines, the range at Majestic is definitely picking up.
The trouble is that, within Yorkshire, these up-market wines are available only at the Harrogate branch. This is one of the 30 stores across the country selected to carry the new Pop-Up Cellar fine wine range. It offers the chance to pick up gems such as the deep, elegant, Ch. Balastard La Tonnelle 2005, (£30, £19.99 on multibuy); the layered, nutty complexity of Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes 2011 from Philippe Colin (£35) and the spiced-prunes-on-a-misty-morning flavours of Barbaresco Albesani 2009 from Cantina del Pino Piedmont (£30). The wines all come from long-established wine merchant Lay and Wheeler which became part of the Majestic operation five years ago.
There are around 70 of these wines in the Pop-Up Cellar range and they are not permanent additions; they are parcels of wine that will be in store for a limited period until they sell out, presumably to be replaced by other tempting treasures. They are all available on the website (www.majestic.co.uk) so even if the Harrogate store is not on your regular route, you can still buy them.
And while this up-market range in Harrogate’s Majestic store provides a great opportunity to actually see and buy these hard-to-find wines, the other 9 stores across Yorkshire (Beverley, Huddersfield, Ilkley, two in Leeds, Northallerton, Ripon, Sheffield, Wakefield and York) also have a terrific range. Majestic continue to build a quality selection, avoiding many of the big-brand names that clutter supermarket shelves. It is always well worth visiting a Majestic store so you can wander up and down the rows of boxes, pick up a few bottles and make up your own half-dozen case. There are always several wines open for tasting, absolutely no pressure to buy, and the staff are chock-full of enthusiasm and knowledge so if they aren’t busy at the till, you are quite likely to pick up lots of information about the various wines on show.
It is worth going with a clear head because some of the offers are rather complicated. Multibuy is the general term I use to describe them, but you don’t have to buy two bottles of the same wine to get the deal, they can be two within the same money-off category, whether it is 33 per cent or 25 per cent. The main difference between Majestic and other wine shops is that they won’t sell you just one bottle of wine. Six bottles is the minimum purchase, and you can mix across the range, including sparkling wine and spirits.
Making up a box of six shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Here are my top dozen wines from the tasting. All multibuy offers last until at least December 1.
Pierre-Jean Sauvion Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Loire, France, £9.99 down to £7.49 on multibuy: Fresh, crisp and lively, this has all the right citrus and herbaceous flavours, but it also has a touch of pineapple mid-palate to round out the edges.
Nettie Viognier 2013, Mc Manis, Central Valley, California, £9.99 down to £7.49 on multibuy: A great-value Californian Viognier with ripe apricot fruit and an apple-fresh finish. Try this with seared scallops or a plain roast chicken.
Matetic Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, San Antonio Valley, Chile, £11.99 down to £7.99 on multibuy: Lively, zesty, lemon and lime flavours, dusted with chives and blackcurrant leaves. Delicious as an aperitif or serve it with grilled fish, salads and goats’ cheese.
Murrina Greco di Tufo 2013, Campania, Italy, £11.99 down to £8.99 on multibuy: This is a taste of something different, with floral notes on the nose and herbal, savoury bite across the palate, ending with a minerally crunch. Team this with herb-sprinkled sea-bass.
Clos St Jacques Riesling 2011, Alsace, France, £14.99 down to £9.99 on multibuy: No petrol aromas in this Riesling, just pure lime freshness, a touch of honey mid-palate and complex minerally crunch. Perfect with a lightly spiced stir-fry.
Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012, Olivier Leflaive, £17.99 down to £13.49 on multibuy: With well-structured white peach and melon flavours and a rounded, balanced finish this is one to try now, but it will keep and develop well for a year or so. Tremendous flavour for money.
MO Monastrell 2012, Alicante, Spain, £9.99 down to £6.66 on multibuy: Deep, chunky, winter-weight plums and brambles fruit with a savoury, balsamic finish. Perfect with any mid-week supper.
San Huberto Reservado Malbec 2012, La Rioja, Argentina, £11.99 down to £7.99 on multibuy: A deep, dark, intense wine, packed with damson and blueberry fruit, balanced by smooth tannins and ending with just a touch of spice. Good enough for a Saturday night steak.
Dogajolo Carpineto 2013, Toscana, Italy, £11.99 down to £8.99 on multibuy: Mainly Sangiovese with Cabernet adding darker cassis flavours and structure this is a soft, intensely fruity smooth wine.
Jaboulet ‘Parallèle 45’ 2012 Côtes du Rhône, France, £12.99 down to £9.74 on multibuy: Taking its name from the 45th North parallel which runs close to Jaboulet’s cellars, this is a full-flavoured, robust Rhône with peppery spice mingling with the red berry fruit.
Glenelly Glass Collection Blend 2008, Western Cape, South Africa, £17.99 down to £11.99 on multibuy: If you had been running a top-growth Bordeaux château for 30 years and were now in your eighties, would you up-sticks and start all over in another hemisphere? May de Lencquesaing did just that with the Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch. She has brought French elegance to this Shiraz, Cabernet sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot blend. Serve it blind and let your guests guess its origin.
Pommard Vieilles Vignes 2011, Nicolas Potel, Burgundy, France, £25 down to £20 on multibuy: A serious Burgundy with redcurrant and dark cherry fruit, savoury notes and enough structure to cope with a roast leg of lamb but equally happy resting in the back of the wine rack for another year or so.