Of all the seminal experiences that turned me from lawyer to wine writer, one was a memorable lunch at The Tate Gallery’s Rex Whistler Restaurant ostensibly for a meeting with a local solicitor I was attempting to do business with.
My first memory was of a pristine white Burgundy so delicious that it lodged the thought in my head that there was more to life than attending court defending shoplifters and pursuing bad debts from recalcitrant Chinese restaurateurs.
My second was that it cost next to nothing because the Tate's enlightened policy was to charge so little over and above the cost price of the wine.
Since then, the Rex Whistler Restaurant has maintained its great value policy, expanding the list under the supervision of expert taster and all-round good guy Hamish Anderson.
With a major refurbishment about to take place, the Rex Whistler Restaurant closes for one year on the 14th February, giving Hamish the chance to do an early cellar spring clean.
On Friday 10th February 6 - 9pm, along with a selection of fine British cheeses, there will be twenty wines available to taste. Tickets for the evening are £15 (refundable on orders over £250). From the ticket desk or tickets.tate.org.uk/selectshow.asp
The Whistler Wine Sale is a list of over 50 wines The Tate is offering as bin ends, ranging from the Tate’s juicy house red for a fiver through to fine wine heavyweights like Comtes Lafon, Dujac and Léoville-Barton at pretty good prices.
Whites I rather like the look of include 2009 St Véran Les Chailloux, Deux Roches, £11, 2006 Riesling Heinbourg, Zind-Humbrecht, £17, 2006 Puligny Montrachet, Jean-Marc Boillot, 20 and the gorgeous, mature 2001 Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile at £24.
Discounted reds include the juicy, modern 2007 Château Civrac, New Zealand's 2006 Felton Road Pinot Noir, £21 and the sublime 1995 Château Les Ormes de Pez, £25. If you want to compare the sale prices with the list price, you can download the full list at http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/eatanddrink/winelist.htm.