The Sopron winemaker Franz Weninger junior is of Austrian origin, his father Franz Weninger senior is running his own family wineyard in Horitschon, and he was among the first to start to cooperate with a Hungarian vintner, namely Attila Gere in Villány, founding the co-owned firm Gere-Weninger as early as 1992.
Franz Reinhardt Weninger (the younger) is living in Balf, making his wines in the Sopron region, and has a tradition to rely on due to the family business. He also gained further international winemaking experience in the USA, Italy and New Zealand. The Hungarian winery completed the transition to biodynamic farming in 2006.
His wines are more and more recognized for their ability to age well in the bottle. This tasting included some of the prestige wines (excluding the flagship variety kékfrankos,) plus some of the more basic wines, and none of them failed they maker.
The Fretter vinyard lies in Balf with brown soil & limestone deposits, looking down onto the lake. The cuvée ‘Frettner’ is a reliable base wine sourced regularly from this site, made from merlot, syrah and kékfrankos (aka blaufrankisch).
Deep ruby, turning into garnet, with a mature nose of leather and sour cherry. It is somewhere between a ripe Bordeaux and a ripe Tuscan wine. A bit of spiciness coming through. The nose improves with time, and the wine blossoms, that it is quite remarkable for a base red of 8 years in, I think.
Acids dominate on the palate, a mid-sized body with smooth tannins, nice and well-balanced. 86 points, pretty mature now, drink it soon.
Deep garnet colour. Lily and a touch of cocoa on the nose first (cocoa wafers, I would say, but this is probably quite a local call,) the latter being quite typical for some Sopron wines. Some red fruits and coffee. A stronger presence of fine-grained tannins on the palate, with a slightly bigger body than the ’02 version. Great to drink now, probably at its top, I guess.
Wow, that is 89 points. The latest Frettner costs ca. 10 EUR, a wine to lay and possibly score around 90 points is definitely a value buy.
Merlot 2006, Spern Steiner
A limited amount of merlot is sourced from Spern Steiner each year, where the vines are still very young, planted only in 1997. One of my favourite varieties, also from the Weninger sortiment.
Dark ruby, with chemical notes on the nose: rubber, that is slightly burnt, plasticine, plus some marzipan. This wine could have well arrived from Argentina. Dark fruits in the background, some plums, absolutely not a friendly wine at the moment.
Surprisingly strong acidity for a merlot, slightly high alcohol, not too much tannin, but nice and smooth. Interesting at best, but one can tell it is quality stuff. 87 points.
Merlot 2000, Spern Steiner
A great step up, really. This is why I like to age wines. This merlot is smooth and mature, operating with a wide palette. It has attained garnet colour by now, with beetroot, peppers, some raspberry and a bit of cherry on the nose. It is rather vegetal than fruity, but still fascinating.
It still has firm, medium body, acids race to the front, but do not overwhelm the other parts. Pretty smooth and settled, altogether. I love it, it worths 91 points with me.
Merlot 2002, Spern Steiner
Deep colour, just turning into garnet, a lively nose of rum and walnuts, some chocolate. Smells completely different from the previous wine, it is rather a Tuscan. Well-rounded in the mouth, but with much more and also coarser tannins, with a faint bitterness at the end. A huge, powerful body, though.
More simple than the 2000 vintage, with more barrique to integrate, but it definitely has the power to carry on. It would be nice to check back in 3-5 years, might well develop the complexity it is currently lacking on. 90 points, and waiting.
Cabernet Franc 2003
Cork taint, no comment.
Well, anyway, I think I would have loved this wine. It was truly special, truly irregular, I can say, with a complex spicyness – cardamom, sweet spices, green herbs, but no bellpepper in sight. Lively acids on the palate, high alcohol, a fat wine with a large body. Deep ruby with a garnet rim, if you care. No score this time, TCA was still quite disturbing.
Cabernet Franc 2006
Deep ruby, with a spicy nose of cayenne pepper, or paprika, with some nutmeg and coriander. Racy acids again, a high alcohol makes the body bigger. Young and impulsive. It reaches up to 90 points.