In the wine trade, we taste. And then we spit. Have to, really, otherwise we’d all be permanently drunk and would die young.
Sometimes, though, a wine is too good to spit.
When I was tasting through the icon wines that The Sampler has just put on its enomatics, I found myself instinctively spitting the wines. But then I though, this is madness. Even if I drink all 16 samples I won’t get properly drunk, and there’s no particular reason that getting a tiny bit drunk would be a terrible thing. And some of these wines are so good, it would be utterly wrong to spit them. It would be a sign of disrespect.
How often am I going to get a chance to drink wines like these? This is truly a once in a lifetime experience for most of these wines.
In the end, I did spit some of the wines. Others, though, I swallowed, savoured, and allowed to become part of me, assimilated into my body.
You can read my notes on all 16 wines here. Three particular highlights that weren’t spat:
Château Latour 1955 Bordeaux, France
Warm, harmonious nose of cherries, leather and earth with a savoury twist to the sweet fruit. The palate still has lots of fruit: there are sweet berries and red cherries, plus a thrilling elegance. Incredible mouthfeel with fine grained, chalky tannins, as well as subtle spice. Taut and correct, this is a sensational bottle. 97/100
Ornellaia 1997 Tuscany, Italy
I didn’t want to like this wine as much as I did, because I am not a fan of super-Tuscans. It has a perfumed nose of ripe blackcurrant fruit with a chalky, mineral edge. It’s very classic and enticing. The palate is superbly elegant and shows smooth, ripe, red berry and cherry fruit with some sweet blackcurrant notes. Ripe yet elegant and just beautiful. 97/100 (£215)
Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Reserva Especial 1942 Rioja, Spain
They don’t make them like this any more. This spent 40 years in barrel. Quite a full colour with a very warm, ripe, sweet nose with a hint of malt and some sweet vanilla and coconut, as well as red cherry fruit. The palate still has some fresh red fruit with a savoury, mineral edge and a super-long finish. There are also some lively citrus peel notes. An amazing wine. 97/100