A few years back I met the late Sebastian Horsley for lunch at the Lorelei cafe in Soho. We were there to discuss publicity for his forthcoming memoir, ‘Dandy in the Underworld.’ He waved at the menu dismissively and said: ‘it doesn’t matter what you order here, it all tastes the same.’ I was beginning to feel the same about the wine at Majestic: no matter what I bought, it all tasted the same. It was as if Majestic were using the Winemerchant 2000 ® (originally developed by Laithwaite’s) whereby an entire world of wines can created from an industrial estate in Bedford. They start with a base wine and then add ‘Real Languedoc Garrique’ or ‘Classic Rioja-style’ vanilla extract.
Perhaps it was my fault for being tempted by their special offers. Chianti Riserva at only £5.99 really was too good to be true. I had tried asking the staff for recommendations but these always turned out to be equally lacklustre. Perhaps they had gauged me as one of those customers who like their wines ‘smooth’ and would be put off by anything too interesting. After one too many disappointments, I’d stopped visiting my local branch in Shoreditch. But then we ran out of everyday wine, it was too late for a Wine Society delivery so I went back.
There was some late 90s house music pumping out of the speakers. It was about noon. Over the din, I asked the manager to suggest something red, cheap and Southern French and he suggested this malbec (I know more malbec, it’s as if I’m in the pay of the powerful malbec lobby.) This wine is all about fragrance, it’s floral, ripe and not heavy, it takes well to a light chilling, but there’s also a firmness at the end to let you know that you’re in Gascony. It’s made by a well-known Cahors producer but for reasons known only to the French it’s a Cotes du Lot rather than a Cahors. It’s not a complicated wine so I can’t think of anymore to say about it except buy lots and drink. Oh and it’s on special offer for only £6.99 a bottle. Sometimes those offers aren’t too good to be true.
Just in case anyone’s lawyers are reading I’m not claiming that Laithwaite’s and Majestic wines are concocted on an industrial estate in Bedford only that some of them taste as if they are.