Casal de Ventozela Vinho Verde, Portugal 2021 (£9.99, or £7.99 as part of a mixed case of six bottles, majestic.co.uk) With many of its traditional competitors having departed to the great High Street in the sky, and the rest no more than shadows of their former selves, Majestic is now comfortably the UK’s biggest bricks and mortar specialist wine retailer, with more than 200 stores. Since its acquisition by the American Fortress Investment Group in 2019, the retailer, which seemed to be struggling to survive in the last of its days as part of the Naked Wines set-up, has been having a bit of a revival, helped, as so many wine retailers were, by the pandemic boom in at-home wine drinking. Tasting a selection of its current range earlier this month, it occurred to me that the current Majestic has remembered its original raison d’être: offering a much better, more varied range than the supermarkets at similar (if you buy by the mixed case) prices. Case in point: this textbook, snappy, subtly spritzy Vinho Verde dry white.
Domaine des Herbauges Luminescence Brut, Loire, France NV (£15.99, or £12.99 as part of a mixed case of six bottles, majestic.co.uk) Other good-value whites in the Majestic range include a pair of offbeat choices with at least one foot in northern Spain. Agricola Fuster Dardell Organic White 2020 (£10.99, or £8.99 as part of a mixed six) is a good example of the fleshy, stone-fruited wines made from garnacha blanca (plus, in this case, viognier) from the improving Catalan wine region, Terra Alta. Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Organic Bianco 2021 (£14.99, or £10.99 as part of a mixed six), meanwhile, is the fruit of a curious project by winemakers Clemens and Helena Lageder from Italy’s far northern Alto-Adige region: a gently rippling, floral blend of organic grapes from their own vineyards, with others sourced from Hungary and the Pyrenees. The retailer is also good at finding well-priced character-filled sparkling wine, not least Domaine des Herbauges’ Atlantic-influenced Loire fizz, with its saline brightness and refreshing clarity and zip.
Emiliana Vigno Organic Carignan, Maule, Chile 2016 (£19.99, or £14.99 as part of a mixed case of six bottles, majestic.co.uk) Staying with sparkling, Majestic has two bottles from one of the best-value Champagne houses in the business: the elegantly racy, subtlest-of-pinks Devaux Oeil De Perdrix Rosé Champagne NV (£27.99, or £24.99 as part of a mixed six) and the richly savoury Devaux Blanc de Noirs Champagne NV (£29.99, or £25.99 as part of a mixed six). For bargain reds, Jean Chatelier Les Davaines Gamay 2021 is a brisk, crunchy, sappy berries-and-currants chillable summer red from the Coteaux-du-Lyonnais vineyards betwixt Beaujolais and the Rhône (£8.99, or £6.99 as part of a mixed six), while, at the other end of the flavour and textural spectrum, Polvanera Organic Primitivo 2020 from Puglia in southern Italy (£10.99, or £8.99 as part of a mixed six) is full of luscious fleshy plum and fig, dark cherry and baking spice. And finally, for a Saturday night treat, a fine example of modern Chile: Emiliana’s strikingly rich, complex, but vibrantly balanced old-vine carignan.
Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach