I have been trying to find a reason to visit The Sampler in South Ken for some time. It is a wine shop with 10 sampling machines. A nitrogen blanket in the sampling machines prevents oxygen from getting into the open wine bottle so this allows you to have many wines ready for tasting at any time. It’s a great idea and best of all, it really works!
Rather than tasting lots of different wines, my motivation was to try some really expensive wines in very small quantities. The type of wine that you could never justify buying a bottle of. After cleansing my palate with a couple of good value glasses I headed straight for the Icons machine. Apologies for the shaky picture but I was becoming a little excited by this time.
The idea is you charge up a purchase card with however much you want to spend, insert this into the machine and choose from 3 different sample sizes.
The first wine I tried was a 1998 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou from Saint Julien in Bordeaux. It’s a second-growth wine from a pretty good year and retails for about £90.00 a bottle.
I chose the smallest sample size and it probably equated to a couple of sips. I certainly did not dare visit the loo in case it had evaporated by the time I had returned. It was enough however to get a real good taste and aroma for the wine.
Was I happy with what I had paid for the sample, of course. Would I have been happy buying a bottle, no. At nearly £100.00 it is eight times what I would normally spend, is it eight times as good? No, but that not how it works. Demand and supply play a role as does the scarcity of any older vintage. They don’t make any 1998’s any more….
I had hoped to taste a first growth but this encounter had ticked one of my wine dream boxes.
I think the sampler is a great place to go with a few friends and experiment. It’s very social and good fun.
Next time, I will finally get around to the decanting piece