The Sampler icon wine tasting 2012
Stunning fine wines on pour at this top London merchant

Each year, just before Christmas, London wine merchant The Sampler puts some serious wines on its enomatic machines. I was lucky enough to be given a tasting card with monster credit and let loose on the sampling machines in both the South Kensington and Islington.

You can see which wines are on tasting at , but if you want the most up-to-date information, get on their email list.

Domaine Leroy Grands Echezeaux 1969 Burgundy, France
Pale cherry red with some brick red notes. Aromatic and perfumed with notes of cherries, spice and herbs, as well as some earthy notes. The palate is silky and elegant with taut cherry fruit and some spice and earth notes. Real finesse here with a nice savoury dimension to the pretty, complex fruit. Yes, there are some edges brought on by age, but there is a lot of beauty here. 93/100 (£715, £35.75 per sample) 

Bouchard Aine & Fils Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru 1955 Burgundy, France
Cherry red with a bricking rim. Meaty, spicy, savoury nose is warm and complex. Quite assertive with cherry and berry fruit. The palate is fresh and elegant with some structure, yet it still has lovely fruit and focus. Very fine and expressive, with good structure. 96/100 (£300, £15 per sample)

Domaine Comte Georges De Vogüe Musigny 1999 Burgundy, France
Cherry red colour. Ripe, powerful, seductive blackberry and cherry fruit nose. Fresh and rich with a hint of meatiness. The palate is concentrated, bold and very ripe with good structure. Silky and elegant despite the powerful frame, this is still quite primary and youthful. 96/100 (£900, £45 per sample)

Domaine de la Romanée Conti Vosne-Romanée Cuvée Duvault-Blochet 2009 Burgundy, France
Pale cherry red colour. Sweet, supple, sappy cherry fruit nose is ripe and aromatic. Very primary red fruits on the palate with admirable purity and some warmth. Fine, beautiful and incredibly drinkable even at this early stage in its life. 94/100 (£490, £24.67 per sample)

Domaine de la Romanée Conti Richebourg 1978 Burgundy, France
Brown/brick red edge to the pale red colour. Elegant, perfumed nose with spice, meat and bovril, as well as a faint hint of beetroot, together with cherries and plums. The palate is elegant but old, with some earth and spice notes as well as red cherry fruit. Very pretty, but feeling a little fragile, so on the strength of this bottle, for drinking now. 94/100 (£1990, £80 per sample)

Château Lafite 1955 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Slightly faded cherry red colour with brown hints. Wonderfully warm, sweet, enticing nose of glace cherries, fudge and spice. Superelegant palate is concentrated and textured, with fine structure and some cherry fruit still present. Real finesse here, this is elegance in a wine personified. Pure, silky cherry fruit. 98/100 (£1100, £55 per sample)

Château Mouton Rothschild 1986 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Deep coloured. Real depth, power, concentration and elegance here. Concentrated blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with tight structure. Lovely depth of fruit. This is dense and firm, and evolving in a very nice way. 95/100 (£645, £32.25 per sample)

Château Pontet Canet 1961 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Aromatic with notes of earth, cherries and spice. Nice finesse. The palate is supple and elegant with some sappy notes and a bit of cherry fruit. Midweight and still quite precise, this is a really supple, elegant wine for drinking now. 93/100 (£400, £20 per sample)

Château Latour 1959 Pauillac, Bordeaux
From a half bottle, this is amazingly fresh. Good deep colour. Finely elegant cherryish nose is sweet and rounded with a hint of leather. The palate is fresh and supple with cherry and berry fruit. So elegant and fine with amazing precision of bright fruit and some grippy tannin. 96/100 (£750, £75 per sample)

Chave Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin 1991 Northern Rhône, France
Wonderfully vivid and intense with notes of meat, olive and black cherry on the nose. Very northern Rhône, with a hint of medicine. Just so perfumed. The palate has notes of seaside and iodine, as well as fresh, structured raspberry and cherry fruit. Great acidity and structure make this an angular wine, but it’s quite a beautiful one, too, showing great typicity. The edges here seem to highlight the beauty. 97/100 (£1495, £74.75 per sample)

Guigal La Mouline Côte Rôtie 1982 Northern Rhône, France
Amazing aromatics of bacon, meat, spice and cherries, as well as fine earthy notes. Fresh, supple, elegant palate is pure with lifted cherry fruit and some earth and spice notes. Beginning to show its age a bit, but it is lovely. Bright, lively and edgy. 94/100 (£450, £22.50 per sample)

Caymus Special Selection 1997 Napa Valley, Californian
From magnum. Sweet, ripe, perfumed and elegant on the nose, showing red cherries, plums and spice. Sleek, ripe yet elegant palate with some broad, rich fruity flavours and subtle green notes. Lovely fruit expression. 93/100 (£338, 8.45 per sample)

Harlan Estate 1996 Napa Valley, California
Vivid, aromatic and spicy with real intensity. Some tar under the ripe black fruits. The palate is sweet and appealing with good structure, lovely black fruits and some earth and spice notes. A really lovely expression of Napa, in good balance. 94/100 (£650, £32.50 per sample)

Bodegas Age Gran Reserva Rioja 1928 Spain
Faded, brown colour. Sweet malty nose is quite perfumed with some earthy hints. The palate is pretty with some fruit still there, but it’s mostly dominated by supple herb, spice and earth notes. This old lady is just alive, but it’s interesting rather than classic. 88/100 (£240, £12 per sample)

Pingus 2001 Ribera del Duero, Spain
Robust, rich and quite intense with lovely ripe, dense berry fruits and stylish, warm, integrated savoury oak notes. Tannic and grippy, this is a dense, appealing wine with ageing potential. 93/100 (£500, £25 per pour)

Seppelt Para Liqueur Port 1930 Australia
Lively, intense and vivid with aromas of raisins, spice and citrus peel. The palate is amazingly rich and intense, and is sweet and concentrated. Raisiny richness with a hint of treacle and complex herb, citrus and spice notes. Brilliant stuff. 96/100 (£348, £17.40 per sample)

See also:

The Sampler Icon tasting 2011
The sampler Icon tasting 2012
The Sampler Icon tasting 2013
The sampler Icon tasting 2013

Wines tasted 12/12  
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