free (a gift)

These wines were given to the Wine Rambler as a gift or brought along to a tasting, and we have no idea what they cost.

Michel Schneider, Liebfraumilch Q.b.A., 1984

Liebfraumilch does not need much introduction, seeing as it is probably the wine most foreigners, certainly the British, associate with Germany. What hundred years ago was one of the best white wines in the world has since become cheap supermarket plonk. Hardly a reason to look out for those wines then, I hear you say - and yet I got extremely excited when a little while ago I got my hands on a bottle. Why? Because it was over 25 years old.

At this age, most wines are undrinkable, and even quite a few age-worthy white wines don't look exactly fresh anymore. Surely, the Liebfraumilch must have turned into vinegar. Or did it?

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Auslese 1999

Even Wine Ramblers do have a birthday. Just recently, it was the birthday of THE Wine Rambler and also of my co-Rambler Julian. My birthday is already a few months past, but there is still something to report on: When I met our Munich branch as part of my birthday celebrations, I found myself presented with a special gift.

Co-Rambler Julian likes to hunt for aged wines on eBay (great if you are in Germany, imppossile in the UK because of legal restrictions), and for my birthday he managed to find a bottle of a suitably aged Riesling from a Mosel winery that has my personal seal of approval.

Feudi di san Gregorio, Greco di Tufo, 2009

It has been a while since we reviewed an Italian wine, but how can the Wine Rambler resist if a bottle almost magically materialises in front of him? This one was brought all the way from Italy by my friend Steve, who contributed it to a blind tasting I hosted a little while ago at the London headquarters of the Wine Rambler. As far as I can remember this is my first encounter with the Greco Bianco grape, a variety of Greek origin that the people in Campania use for making the Greco di Tufo wine. So let's be Italian for a moment.

Weinkellerei Burgenland, Trockenbeerenauslese, 1991

In theory, this wine would have warranted a long review. First of all a twenty year old wine that is still enjoyable should be worth saying something about. Then it was also a gift from a friend who bought it for peanuts from an English wine shop years ago - since then it has lived in his attic until he donated it to a little wine tasting I hosted in August. The reason that I am not inclined to honour it with a long story is that when I emailed the estate to learn more about the wine they didn't even bother with a one line reply. They are of course not obliged to, but then neither am I to spend more time on it.

Postales del Fin del Mundo, Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2008

Here I am, drinking a wine from the end of the world. This is both true in geographic terms, seeing as the wine is from Patagonia, and it is also true as the winery is called 'Winery from the end of the world' (Bodega del Fin del Mundo). This Bodega is a fairly new venture, about ten years old, and they grow a variety of red and white varietals on 870 hectares of land. As this part of Patagonia is fairly dry, the vineyards need a computer controlled irrigation system - the water comes from 20 kilometres away and a complete water channel system had to be built for the irrigation. This apparently took two years, and the first vineyards were planted in 1999 - protected from the wind by a complex system of windbreakers. Scared away by all that technology?