In early June I managed to make it to Sopron for some private affairs, and I also payed a visit to the top two vineries in the region. As I did not take any notes on the spot, but tasted a lot of interesting wines indeed, I decided on being brave, and summing up a few basic impressions. Please take all comments with a pinch of salt.
The winemaker József Horváth “Ráspi” is running his family gourmet restaurant in the village of Fertőrákos, a restaurant not to miss by any means. The winery is located at the same place, his own wines are served with the meals.
The 2008 vintage has just been bottled, so I had to try my favourite merlot. It is a great wine, sails past the 90 points mark again, and confirms my opinion that merlot is able to consistently show something really special for Sopron. Check here and here. Still, it fails to impress me as the 2007 vintage did with 93 points. It might just need some time.
The other 2008 wines tasted fine, I liked them better than the much earlier released Pinot Noir and Syrah from 2008. I met these at a few wine shows & festivals, and always had the impression that they are surprisingly jammy despite the not-so-overly-warm vintage. The Pinot Noir 2008 could not live up to its benchmark 2005 release, the only one to date, that really fascinated me a year ago. The Syrah 2008 is the first release of a new planting, and was very much like to pinot noir of the vintage.
Altogether, the 2008 wines looked fine, but the vintage needs a much deeper look than such a first sight. It might also be the time to properly retaste that syrah again.
From the 2009 vintage only has the base cuvée Kopár has been bottled yet (not to be confused with the prestige wine of Attila Gere in Villány.) It is probably the most fruity wine I ever tasted from the Ráspi sortiment. Not a special wine, but has an obvious fruitiness.
I also got to taste a few barrel samples, that further confirmed the high expectations of Mr. Ráspi for the 2009 vintage. I am willing to say, that the 2009 vintage has the most fruit in the barrels, I am looking forward to the wines, especially the syrah, and kékfrankos selection. The Gneis 2007 (old vines kékfrankos) is soon to be bottled, and it will be something to look at.
There has been an extremely small harvest from the 2010 vintage, only 5 barrels of wine were made, mostly kékfrankos. The acids are surprisingly good & low for such a bad vintage.
I had a porcini cream soup and a Wiener Schnitzel for a quick lunch, and noted that I need to get back for a full menu some day.
I have also visited the Weninger Winery, who cultivate ca. 22 ha of vineyards, and switched to biodynamic farming lately. I was the lucky guy that day, as I arrived after some Japanese journalists, so I got to taste a few leftovers from their tasting.
The first vintage of Cabernet Franc, from 2002 was open, and it was a faultless wine, just on its way turning into a mature wine, developing a nice bouquet. Pretty good for a Hungarian wine. If you happen to own the wine, start drinking it now, OR keep it for a further 10 years. Cabernet Franc seems to be a hit also for Sopron. The 2009 vintage is still in the barrel, but it will be another wine to look at from a superb vintage.
I was especially curious of the 2010 vintage. As Weninger has converted to biodynamics by the 2006 vintage, from 2010 he decided on not putting any sulphur in his wines, at least in their first year in the barrel. After the first year, minimal sulphur is added as the wines require it. So at the current moment (ie. June 2011) the 2010 pinot noir & syrah has completed fermentation, and is resting in barrel without any sulphur. This makes them a unique experience to taste. Both are extreamly lean, nearly fragile for the structure, and have a pale colour, but both have a beautiful taste and frutiness, though seem to be slightly “sterile”, lacking a bit of flair to make them really interesting. Still, they will be my benchmark wines for the 2010 vintage, they are absolutely special in the Hungarian landscape. Just as 2005 produced some outstanding, light pinot noirs in Hungary, I hope these wines are the precursors to a few more.