Ben Franks: Spotlight on Majestic Bath
I am ever the advocate for independent wine retailers. They sell some of the most interesting wines on the market. But if you’re just looking for good quality wine for parties or to enjoy alongside your dinner after work, you can’t really ignore outlets like Majestic Wine.
Last week I visited Jack, general manager of the store here in Bath, and had a taste of some of their Spanish wines they’d recommended for Easter. It had been some time since I’d been in a Majestic store (and only the second time I’d visited the one in Bath) and I was instantly reminded of their customer service quality. Everything is about finding the right wine for you, which ultimately means there’s something for everyone.
We began with Caixas Albariño 2014 by Martín Códax, which is produced in the cool Spanish region of Rías Baixas. While a bit herbaceous, you’ll forgive it at just £6.99 a bottle, and instead see it as a fresh, zippy wine that would be perfect with white fish and lemon.
Things got really exciting with the second Spanish white wine, Jose Pariente Sauvignon Blanc 2014. I have come around to Mediterranean climate Sauvignon since tasting When in Rome’s craft Sauv-Blanc. I was astonished with the quality of Jose Pariente, which is one of the first Sauvignons to be grown in the Rueda region, and has a grassy note with potent tropical fruit and a crisp finish. It’s Chile meets Italy in a glass and it tastes wonderful.
When we moved on to red wines, Jack asked me to try their Pizarras de Otero 2014 made from the Mencia grape. Only £6.99 again, the wine is a little like English Rondo but with more fruit and a bite of acidity. It would be excellent with pizza. While a light style, the Pizarras de Otero might be better suited to white wine drinkers than those who usually drink styles like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais – the Mencia might taste a touch thin for those tastes!
‘El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa’ Old Vine Garnacha 2013 from Navarra I think was the star of the evening. Amazing quality for just £7.99. Jammy dark fruits, vanilla smooth and tight on the finish. As much a quality food wine as it would be remarkable on its own.
Their own label Definition Rioja Vina Majestica perhaps needs a little more time in the bottle, as it shows far too much sweet American oak, which dominates the supple black fruit with coconut, oak and sweet vanilla. It retails at around £10 a bottle.
However all was made up for with a tasting of the excellent Muga Rioja Reserva Selección Especial 2010. From a simply stunning vintage, the Muga was a whole class above the other wines we tried. Intense, rounded and brimming with cocoa, dark cherry, blackberry and plum. It’s already drinking wonderfully well and it’s just six years old! If you try anything after reading this, make it this wine – for under £20 it’s pretty remarkable.
Enjoy Good Friday!
I’m always on the look-out for new wine lists to try and I’m here to help any restaurant or pub who think their wine list needs a seasonal update. For more information or to get in touch about some more of my favourite wine & dine destinations, call Ben Franks Wine on +44(0)7545353147.
Images © Copyright Ben Franks Wine 2016