I don't usually have spare time in London in the afternoon but when I did the other day I took myself off to The Sampler and spent a very happy one and half hours tasting their wines.
They have an amazing number of wines to sample categorised as "rieslings and sweet wines", "italian varietals", "icons" and the such. The shop was quiet which was a real benefit as it meant I could concentrate and take notes. Last time I was in it was a Saturday and the crowds at a weekend are not conducive to contemplation of stunning wines such as Chateau Rayas 1996.
At over £8 per glass and in the "icons" cabinet this seems steep for a 25ml sample but the wine was absolutely worth every penny of that. It was a great example of why the concept of the The Sampler is such a good one. When else would I get the opportunity to taste such a wine? Never I'm sure. My detailed tasting notes are up on Adegga.
Mind you having tried the Rayas I then moved over to the Ridge Montebello 1996 with very high expectations. After all here was a wine retailing for a lot of money with quite an "aura" to it. Guess what? It was faulty. Well, it was in my opinion. It had quite a lot of "nail varnish" aroma about. I gave it the benefit of the doubt to begin with but then shared my thoughts with two members of staff. One agreed with me and the other thought it was ok. Now I don't know what a Ridge Montebello should smell of but I was pretty sure I shouldn't be able to smell quite so much nail varnish. However The Sampler happily refunded my card with the cost of the sample so it was a win-win situation (although I'd still like to know what a Ridge tastes like).
I also tried a number of other wines I probably wouldn't get a chance to savour such as a 1990 Boillot Gevrey Chambertin and a 1988 Chateua Haut Batailley.
Roll on another free afternoon in London as I'll be back to The Sampler.