Some terroirs are just stronger than the others. They penetrate the vines, ooze through the grapes, and overwhelm the wines, regardless of the varietal. They are capable of turning the mighty cabernet into a submissive, oversensitive pinot noir so highly praised for expressing the nuances of the terroir.
Up to date I have encountered only two such wine regions of the world. One is the region of Sopron, on the western borders of Hungary. The other is Coonawarra in Australia, famous for her cabernet sauvignon.
This post is about a Sopron merlot I particularly liked, not a cabernet – still, it is a Bordeaux varietal, not as terroir-friendly as a pinot noir or kékfrankos – but it would not be hard to find some Sopron cabernets, either.
Ráspi Merlot 2007
I love merlot, and I also love the Sopron merlots. It is a bit neglected in the Ráspi sortiment, a single base wine is made, just as from pinot noir. Both are available for the ca. 30 EUR price of the selection series, but they are not pushed into the limelight. Really, I was not a 100% aware that this wine exists, as the chef-and-vintner József Horváth “Ráspi” is rather famous for his cuisine, zweigelt and kékfrankos.
Medium-to-deep ruby, with a very clean and straight nose of elegant coffee, a little bit of nutmeg and sour cherries, and a huge dose of that typical, hard to describe Sopron minerality from the schist. It is hovering between spicy and chemical notes – mustard seeds and balsamic vinegar would be a reasonable guess. It is opening up slowly, gradually turning up the volume, producing the very same bouquet on every sniff, and still fascinating me every time. It is like a new love, always the same, still always enchanting.
The wine has a lean body, it is acidic, close to agressive, the 14% abv on the label gets simply lost inside, with the tannins fading, too. The structure could also be that of a barrique pinot noir, and it is hard as steel. I rate this wine 92 points, placing it on the top with Ráspi Electus 2007 (the zweigelt selection) and his Pinot Noir 2005, by far his best wines I ever tasted. Please decant for 1-2 hours. You can hope that it will last for at least 10 years without any problems, the similar Pinot Noir 2005 emerged unscratched from the bottle after 5 years.
When I told my tasting buddy at the table that from all the wine regions of the world, I have only found Coonawarra to possess such a brute force, he found it hard to keep a straight face, as he wanted to avoid dropping any names from the blind cabernet showdown planned for next week.
As it turned out, a great Coonawarra cabernet was lurking just around the corner, so our next stop is Coonawarra. Mind the gap, please.