6 Reasons Why You Should Love Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular wine grapes at Majestic. Familiarity breeds contempt though, right? In honour of #SauvBlanc Day on the 24th of May, we decided to revisit our biggest sellers from our cellars and remember why we love it!

1. It’s a world-wide phenomenon

Sauvignon Blanc is grown all over the world, from the Loire and Bordeaux in France, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand.

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2. Sauvignon comes in many styles

From steely dry and flinty in the Loire, a bracing tropical-fruit laden delight in New Zealand to the zesty and fresh South African wines. Try the Sauvignons from La Grille (Loire), Rustenberg (South Africa) and The Ned (New Zealand) and see which style you like best.

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3. It’s refreshing by nature

Sauvignon is naturally high in acidity and ripens early, so it’s easy to make it full of flavour and keep it super-fresh.

4. It’s Food-Friendly

Amazing with chevré, brilliant with sushi, and cracking with seafood.

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5. You don’t need to wait to enjoy Sauvignon

It tastes best when it’s young, so you don’t need patience, just chill it down and pop it open whenever you need refreshing.

6. …But not always

There are one or two really special styles which can stand the test of time, like Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko. Ask our teams in store and they’ll tell you all the secrets.

6 Reasons Why You Should Love Sauvignon Blanc

St George’s Day – From an Englishman

Eddy is a Trainee Manager in Edinburgh Comiston Road, and as an Englishman abroad, he has some thoughts about how to spend St. George’s Day.

I’m sure everyone is mightily excited that St. Georges Day is coming up this week. Some may find it surprising having grown up in England and latterly moving up to Scotland for University, St George’s Day has rarely featured on my agenda other than seeing the occasional flag or news story.

It does seem fairly strange to me how uncelebrated my home nations patron saint day is compared to The other UK nations offerings. I am sure I am not completely representative of the whole of England’s populus but it’s fairly safe to say it isn’t as celebrated as, for example, St. Patricks day. However, where there is a will there is a way. We all love any excuse to celebrate. The street parties that sprung up all over the UK for the Royal wedding are testimony to that. So I say whatever your nationality it’s time to celebrate St. George’s day. A party is a party, no matter how deserved your invite is.

For me it is incredibly fulfilling to celebrate all the different days that pop up. When you enjoy a glass of wine, it can be incredibly fun to use each ‘celebration’ to taste and explore that little bit more! Malbec World Day, Australia Day and St George’s day all must be respected and celebrated with an appropriate bottle of vino… Out of respect of course.

We have a really interesting selection of wines from England at the moment, with Chapel Down heading the list, especially for still wines. Here are a few ideas for your St George’s Day Feast:

The Aperitif:

Start your celebrations in style with one of our awesome English Sparklers. The terroir and growing temperatures are very comparable to that of Champagne. The results are too. Quality is on the up and the prices, despite how trendy they have become, are still very reasonable.

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I recommend the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2009 to kick things off; If you want to see what English Sparklers can do this is the place to start. Emphatic. A classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This has incredible balance. Citrus fruit and brioche dominate the nose. The mousse is mouth filling and persistent and shows incredible poise for the price-point. A really top grade sparkler.

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Smoked Salmon canapes, friends and fizz. What better way to kick off any party?

The Main Course:

Then We’ll move on to the main course. We cracked open the Chapel Down Chardonnay on our Tasting Counter at Edinburgh Comiston Road. This would be a perfect accompaniment to any seafood dishes. It is a brilliantly light, unoaked Chardonnay, displaying crisp English apples, lime and apricot notes. The texture is very refined and despite high acidity it is very well rounded. I recommend trying this with any simple fish dishes. Baked Sea Bass, or Orkney Scallops would partner this beautifully. Less hassle too if catering for numbers. Keep it simple!

The Alternative:

If you need anything other than wines then we also have some great English beers. The Iron Maiden Trooper is an awesome Golden Ale that would be brilliant with a ‘Proper British Pie’! Citric hop notes with a great depth and smoothness. This is a Great product by Robinson’s brewery. A must try for any Ale lovers.

So, this year, lets grab a glass and say cheers for St George’s day. I’ve never tried a Bacchus (English dry white wine) and until today I hadn’t tried an English still wine. There is a lot of effort and investment flooding into English winemaking. So it is only right to raise our glass and try something new on St. George’s Day.

St George’s Day – From an Englishman

Majestic Vintage – Rustenberg 2015

Working in the wine trade offers many opportunities for our keen and enthusiastic staff. Learning about wine can be hands-on as well as book-smart, which is something we love. It’s good to remember that we work here because we love wine, and occasionally we have the opportunity for some of our teams to visit far-away places and help out with a vintage. Recently, three eager managers had the opportunity to visit Rustenberg Estate in South Africa.  Caitlin from our new Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird store was one of the lucky three…

Setting off

I arrived at Heathrow far too early so immediately headed to the bar for a large glass of Loius Latour Grande Ardeche, awaiting the arrival of James and Sophie. We had never met each other before so as I was waiting I emailed them to let them know where I was. I got the reply, ‘look to your right’. There they were in the bar already, both with glasses of Ardeche, I knew right away we would get on!

Arriving

Landing safely at Cape Town, we were greeted by Murray Barlow, winemaker at Rustenburg and son of Simon and Rozanne who own the estate. He drove us through to Stellenbosch passing several vineyards on the way such as Glenelly and a brandy distillery. Murray pointed out a few vineyards which had a reddish tint. This, he explained, was a sign of leaf roll virus which reduces chlorophyll in the vine leaves and affects crop yields. A problem in South African old vines. Eventually we arrived at the Rustenburg estate… wow. The estate itself is 17th century Dutch architecture so everything is thatched and the property is surrounded by the most incredible gardens with spectacular views. My words cannot really do justice to how beautiful this place is.

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After receiving an incredibly warm welcome from Simon and Rozanne and being shown our amazing rooms, we took a wander around the house and the estate. You could spend hours looking at all the incredible history and antiques filling the house, and the estate’s story is incredibly interesting. More time could be spent wandering around the beautiful gardens. As we wandered down a grassy aisle between an amazing oasis of flowers either side, we stopped to sit at an old ornate stone bench for a minute. As we sat and looked up we gasped at the sight before us, a craggy mountain ridge towered in the background with the perfectly manicured garden stretching out before is and the moon peeking out prematurely. Stunning.

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The evening meal set the precedent for the food to come, Rozanne is the most amazing cook and we were truly spoilt over the two weeks we stayed. We were presented with everything from fillet beef to the best lemon meringue pie I have ever tasted. That evening we had moussaka and Rustenburg Shiraz by candlelight. To finish, straw wine over ice cream. Happy and stuffed we made our way to bed, in preparation for starting work at the winery the next day.

Barlow Dining Room

The Winery

First we were kitted out with hats, jackets and work boots, after being warned we would spend the week covered in wine, very true! The first day we had a wander around the winery, which was specially constructed to fit within and respect the original thatched buildings. After a quick tour we got stuck into winery life. We had a go at pump overs on the first day, an important feature of red wine making which pumps fermenting juice from the bottom of the tank over the top ‘cap’ (a layer of grape skins) to help with colour, tannin and flavour extraction. It is a messy job but very fun. We also had a go at cleaning the press. Rustenburg use a pneumatic press for white and rosé wine making. It a great machine but all those grape skins get stuck so it needs to be cleaned after every use which involved a lot of water and getting quite damp.DSC_0239

The next day we were up early to help pick grapes. Something I did not realise was that all of Rustenburg’s wines are hand picked. I have to say I felt more like a hindrance than a help, the women were so fast with their clippers! We got a chance to pick a few different grape varieties over the time we were there and it was really interesting to see the different appearances and taste of the grapes straight from the vine. What really amazed me was the difference just a few rows of vines could make to ripeness. It just shows you what a difficult job winemakers have to decide when to harvest the grapes. It is not just time of harvest that affects the wine but there are an almost endless amount of options available to wine makers when making their wine and lots of decisions to be made between growing the grapes to the finished wine.

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On one morning in the winery we tasted wine from the barrels which were destined to make up the Peter Barlow and other wines. The wines are matured in barrels made by different cooperages, and the different barrels made a remarkable difference between the tastes of the wine aged in them despite the fact they were all French oak and charred to the same level.

We got to help out with so many parts of the winemaking process. Another afternoon was spent taking sugar readings from the Chardonnay barrels. The barrels are kept at quite a cool temperature so it was a little chilly but we siphoned off wine from each barrel and used a hydrometer to test the sugar levels. This gives an indication of the progression of the fermentation process. We also took sugar readings from grapes before harvest to check for sugar ripeness and pH levels.

5 Soldiers in Barrel

Downtime

It was not all hard work, however, our work at the winery was punctuated with delicious lunches courtesy of Rozanne and evening swims by the pool. After our daily swim Murray and his fiancee Tammy invited us over to their house for evening meals. We got acquainted with the famous South African Braii, basically a delicious barbeque, and got to try some fabulous wines from their own collection. We also got a chance to visit Cape Town and many of the Vineyards around Stellenbosch and Constantia. Cape town was fantastic, we did all the usual touristy things. Table mountain is something I will never forget and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent time in prison, was also extremely interesting.

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Touring around the winelands we visited DeMorgenzon, Glenelly, Klein Constantia, Kanonkop, Groot Constantia, Jordan, Van Ryn’s Brandy distillery and Steenburg. All had such a great range of wines to try including a white Cabernet Sauvignon and rose pinotage. I even found a pinotage I liked! Over the course of the trip some wine highlights were: Rustenburg Five Soldiers; R. M. Nicholson 2000 – an interesting vintage because it was tainted with smoke from brush fires; Rustenberg Straw wine (a couple of different vintages); Van Ryns 12 year old brandy; Kanonkop 1991 Cabernet Sauvignon; and Klein constantia Vin de Constance.

I think my favourite evening was spent having pizza and wine on the top of the five soldiers overlooking Stellenbosch at sunset. My time in South Africa was unforgettable and fantastic. I would like to thank Simon, Rozanne, Murray and Tammy for their incredible hospitality. I would also like to thank the winemaking team for putting up with our numerous questions.

Cheers to vintage 2015!

Majestic Vintage – Rustenberg 2015

Penfolds Cellar Collection

We’ve teamed up with Penfolds to offer an amazing opportunity for you to store your wine in splendour. We’ve put together an exclusive case for an incredible price with some of their classic wines.

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Penfolds’ history goes back as far as South Australia itself. Established by Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold in 1844 at Magill, near Adelaide, their early speciality was fortified wines and brandy. That all changed in 1950, when their chief winemaker Max Schubert visited Europe. He had gone to learn about sherry in Spain, but decided to make a stop out of his way in Bordeaux before he returned home.

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He returned inspired, bringing new techniques and putting new oak barrels to use in fermentation to help bring out the complex characters of Shiraz, and began blending fruit from Magill and Morphett Vale near Adelaide. The first vintage of Grange, named after Dr Penfold’s cottage, was made in 1951, and was taken to be a ‘dry port’ rather than wine owing to its intensity. In 1957, Schubert was told to stop making it. Instead, he took production underground, and released the wines years later when they were hitting maturity.

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It became the first Australian wine to be recognised internationally as collectable, and the 1952 and 1953 vintages are still drinking well!

Today, Grange represents the best Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon from across South Australia, blending furit from Kalimna in Barossa with that from Clare, McLaren Vale and more. Over the years, Penfolds have added to their portfolio, often using the Bin numbers from the winery stock keeping system to identify the wines.

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We’ve partnered with Penfolds to bring you an exclusive case showcasing the range and quality of the Penfolds collection and demonstrating Penfolds’ expertise with single and multi-regional blends. Available online only at majestic.co.uk until 3pm Tuesday 14 April or whilst stocks last, this is a case that no fans of Australian wine should miss.

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Plus – for a limited time only – when you buy a Penfolds Collectors Selection Case, you’ll qualify for an incredible offer on a sleek Haier Wine Cellar to store these wines in the splendour they deserve!

Penfolds Cellar Collection

Meet The Winemaker: James & Catherine Kinglake, Domaine Begude

Domaine Begude is a small hilltop domaine very close to the town of Limoux, owned and managed by British couple James and Catherine Kinglake. With beautiful views over the Pyrénées & the Corbières, their vineyards have been organically farmed for the last 30 years and wine has been produced on this historic estate since the 16th  Century.

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They are clearly passionate about maintaining a healthy, living soil and a sustainable environment solely using organic manures to fertilise. They also observe the lunar calendar in viticultural practice at planting, pruning and harvest time.

Domaine Begude is the labour and love of James and Catherine.  Many wine-lovers dream of making their own wine, for most of us it stays a dream; for James and Catherine, it became a life.

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The search of the right vineyard was long – they looked at 45 estates in the South of France, but in 2003 they found the one.  The magic wasn’t just the view, but the potential of the terroir.  Limoux is the only cool climate region in the Languedoc and is ideal for growing top-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

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They left the London skies behind them in 2004, and have been making wine at Domaine Begude ever since.

Though the Languedoc is best known for Rhône varieties like Grenache, Marsanne, and Syrah, the altitude of Limoux makes it a cool climate area which is perfectly suited to Burgundian varieties and aromatics.  Chardonnay is a speciality, producing fresh and elegant wines at the quality you’d pay double for in Burgundy.  What’s more, they’re committed to Organic farming, believing that treating nature with nature is a more sustainable approach to wine-making, and just as importantly, helps them make the best wine they can.

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Begude has 28 hectares of organic certified vines, of which half is Chardonnay and a quarter is Pinot Noir. As well as these they have the only Gruner Veltliner in France, some Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc – which they use in ‘Le Bel Ange’, and Viognier.  Gruner Veltliner isn’t allowed by the local appellation rules, so James labels the wine simply as Exotique GV – which the French assume stands for Grand Vin.

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The wine making team comprises of Laurent Girault who is the full time oenologue and manager and a consultant wine maker originally from Barossa Valley, Richard Osbourne.  There are 2 full time employees to tend the vines: Vincent Boutin & Driss Yousfi.

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We’ve snapped up a significant parcel (which still isn’t a lot!) of their top Etoile Chardonnay and Esprit Pinot Noir.  They’re fantastic wines which sold out in a snap last time we were able to get our hands on them!

The Etoile Chardonnay is rich and complex, with exceptional elegance showing its cool climate origin.  The Esprit Pinot Noir is in a style similar to those of the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy, with fine tannins, and filled with plum and ripe cherry flavours.

Visit our website to buy the wines or find out more about the Esprit here, and the Etoile here, and you can follow James on twitter @Begude.

Domaine de BEGUDE, Gamme 2010

Meet The Winemaker: James & Catherine Kinglake, Domaine Begude

Australia Vintage Roundup

Ivan, Trainee Manager in our Lytham St Annes store, has been looking at recent vintages in Australia from 2012-2014.  Find out what he discovered!

Over the past couple of years Australia has been showing good results in growing conditions and quality of produced wine. Both 2012 and 2013 have been highly recognised, and unanimous reports of fantastic quality followed the 2012 vintage.  As for 2013, the vintage was ‘not an easy one’ in the words of the Winemakers Federation of Australia. Despite the heat, growing conditions were generally good for growing with enough water throughout summer and winter, which helped to grow highest yields since 2008.Wine-australia

2014 showed some challenges for winemakers with heat-waves followed by downpours.  Growers who held their nerve though pulled in some excellent quality fruit, with fears of rot and split grapes proving unfounded in the Barossa.

Let’s have a closer look.

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As season 2014 reds are not yet hitting the shelves, 2012–2013 vintages are more important for Shiraz lovers.   Both of these vintages produced lovely yields and the excellence of wines have been admired by winemakers.

All of this excellence can be seen in some new wines we have recently launched in stores. Such as Basedows of Barossa, which appeared to be a customer hit starting from day 1. This deep cherry red, with a thick and juicy backbone of plum jam and cocoa characters, accented with hints of sweet spice and black pepper wine truly shows the quality of the vintage. Make sure you get one as well!Yalumba Y Series Viognier (2014)

With whites, however, the story is different and you can already find 2014 vintage in our stores, such as Yalumba Y-series Viognier. Season 2014 brought some topsy-turvy weather to start with, and hot periods followed by statewide deluge brought things to standstill. Thereafter, ideal mild weather resulted in fragrant wines at modest alcohol levels. Yalumba Viognier shows this with a nose full of gorgeously perfumed floral scent and ripe stone fruit.

Coonawarra

Season 2014 in Coonawarra will be described by most as one of the longest on record starting Mid February and finishing in the first week of May. The warm weather brought the ripening of many of the varieties on rapidly, but the cool nights and moderate days that the Coonawarra region is famous for soon rolled in around mid to late February, to preserve the acid and flavour of the whites.  The reds, especially Cabernet have benefited significantly from the cool slow ripening period.

Overall, a perfect extended dry and mild ripening season for flavour, colour and tannin development which will deliver a classic Coonawarra vintage. Notably, season 2014 had a lot of similarities with season 2012, which has been described as “excellent” by all winemakers. To experience this yourself, we invite you to try Hamilton Block and Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon which are available in our stores.

Margaret River

For Margaret River the terms “warm, sunny, mild with ocean breeze” typify what is normal and this is what they have experienced throughout 2014 with most in the industry agreeing that it appeared to be a repeat of the excellent growing season leading up to the 2010 vintage.

Truly exceptional white fruit has been grown this year showing very intense varietal flavours.  Chardonnay is displaying outstanding lines of natural acidity balanced with soft and fine phenolics with a flavour profile of citrus, nectarine, summer peach. One of the best examples we offer in stores is Vasse Felix Chardonnay. This toasty, nutty wine with peach and tropical fruits on the palate reveals past few years’ vintage excellence.

With the red vintage all varietals are showing vibrant fruit ripe intensity, great colour and balanced tannin profiles. Milder weather conditions in late April early May delayed final ripening and harvest was about a week later than average. The delayed harvest was perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon and has resulted in excellent wines of weight, concentration and texture. Fruit is pure and silky with a ripe red dark berry flavour profile and soft fine tannins.

You can check out our range of Australian wines here!

Australia Vintage Roundup

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