I've been aware of The Sampler for some time, though fear for my wallet led me to avoid it. This was pure idiocy on my part, and I can only hope that the wine gods look down on my attempts at fiscal responsibility as a mere temporary lapse of reason. Bizarrely, I didn't browse much, but what I saw suggested a meticulous selection - names that were familiar brought glee, while the unfamiliar looked exciting and seemed to be screaming 'buy me'. That's about as good as it gets with wine shops.
The reason I didn't browse was because I was there to taste. The Sampler has several banks of enomatic machines. These machines keep wine bottles in a neutral atmosphere, allowing samples to be dispensed pretty much indefinitely without the wine oxidising. They're pretty much the most awesome thing since bacon.
My mate Pete and I decided on two rather epic cuvées to kick things off. 1992 was not the greatest vintage in history of the Northern Rhône, but it was better than in Bordeaux.
Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline 1992
Mature but no amber. Faded purple and ruby.
Nose is dusty and sweet, with piercing juiciness on the end, as though to remind you that there's still life there.
Intense, concentrated on the palate. The fruit is dark, ripe and knit tightly to the wood and secondaries. You don't just taste them together, you feel how they mesh with each other. Oak apparent, but feels old, tempered. Very long, with quite a fresh juiciness to it.
Guigal Côte Rôtie La Landonne 1992
Darker than the La Mouline. More purple and less ruby.
Nose has a nice earthiness to it. It's a bit more rounded - less dust and more suede, softer fruit.
Palate follows the nose. More rounded and supple, with greater harmony between the fruit and the secondaries. It's like silk, plums and bitter chocolate. It seems gentler, but as the finish arrives it reveals a tight stoniness underneath.
Both impressive wines, and ageing with elegance. I think perhaps the Mouline wanted a bit more for food, though the Landonne was the sexier at the moment. The Landonne had me discovering more, hence the extra star, but scores are stupid anyway.
Tasted 28/7/2012 at The Sampler, South Kensington