Weninger, Kékfrankos Sopron, 2007
It's been a while since I have given Hungary a try, and high time to spread the word about this Kékfrankos (a.k.a. Blaufränkisch, a.k.a Lemberger - you know the drill) from Sopron. It is made from organically grown grapes by the Weninger family of Austria, who has built up a branch of their winery across the border on the other side of Lake Neusiedl.
A youthful wine with its bright red that borders on purple, this has one of the spiciest smells of any reds I have tried: Liquorice, sour cherries, juniper, a good dose of funkiness. It brings sweet cherry aromas, spiced up by eucalyptus, to the palate, a palate that was - once again - so overflowing with spice that I caught myself wishing for a little oak barrel softening. But then I reminded myself that I am a purist when it comes to reds, and pushed such thoughts to the back of my mind. This is a mean little wine, people, bursting with spice and in-your-face fruit, and anything but boring. If you like unoaked traditional italian Barberas, for instance, make sure to give this a try.
To give a little context to this wine review, here is how wines like this make sense to me: Our family fare, and I'm sure this will be the case for many readers, is italian and pasta or pizza-based to a large extent. But - and here lies a small personal tragedy - I have so far had little luck with italian reds, and have all but given up on them. (No offence, Italy lovers: There's no doubt in my mind that there are wonderful italian wines, even in the cheaper price range, it's just that I have so often ended up disappointed or indifferent with what I have picked). So the search for non-oaked, fruit-driven, lighter-bodied, but robust reds is on. And it is within the broader frame of this search that I rate this enjoyable wine as a great success and can thoroughly recommend it.