Older wines given a chance

04 April, 2008

Older Bordeaux and Burgundy wines which might otherwise turn to vinegar are being given a new lease of life by London wine merchant The Sampler.

The Islington shop - famous for its Enomatic dispensers which allow customers to sample around 80 wines before they buy - is planning to dramatically increase its range of older wines after the success of a trial it conducted before Christmas.

According to owner Jamie Hutchinson, the wines offer better value for money than most younger wines from the same domaines and chateaux.

"With older vintages, there is a risk involved which is why many merchants find them difficult to sell, but if you let people try them first you take the risk away," he told OLN.

"It also means they are not very expensive because there is not that much demand for older wines in the trade. We work very hard to source our stock, but find it quite remarkable how much less expensive the wines are than similar wines from younger vintages."

At present between 30 and 40 older wines are available for sampling but Hutchinson has plans for a purpose-built unit for more than 100.

He has sourced the stock from the cellars of various universities, clubs and societies, as well as buying some from auction or even from customers. Although he admits to "some quite expensive mistakes", he has been taken aback by the general quality of the wines.

Many quality wines often languish in cellars, and remain unopened after their drinking life has expired, he explained.

Customers are told: "We don't guarantee the condition of wines made before 1982 (they would be far too expensive), but we only buy wines with good provenance and give an honest view on likely risk of oxidation. We price the wines according to their likely risk as well as the quality of the estate and vintage."

Old gold from The Sampler

Boyd -Cantenac 1978 (£64.99)

Cos 1970 (£90)

Cos 1975 (£70)

Cos 1985 (£130)

Ducru -Beaucaillou 1966 (£160)

Ducru -Beaucaillou 1970 (£130)

Ducru 1979 half mid shoulder (£30)

Giscours 1971 (£44.99)

Lafite 1979 (£210)

La Lagune 1978 top shoulder (£57.99)

La Mission HB 1970 upper (£120)

L éoville Las Cases 1971 (£69.99)

L éoville Las Cases 1979 top (£70)

Mouton 1970 half mid shoulder (£45)

Mouton 1970 half top shoulder (£90)

Mouton 1979 high shoulder (£140)

Palmer 1967 mid shoulder (£70)

Palmer 1978 neck (£140)

Pavie 1985 (£70)

Pavie 1966 upper shoulder (£180)

Pichon -Lalande 1983 (£95)

Potensac 1982 (£44.99)

Scavino Bric del Fiasc 1995 (£74.99) Solaia 1990 (£330)

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