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Austrian wines
Part 3: Weninger

Weingut Weninger, Florianigasse 11, A-7312 Horitschon, Austria
Tel: +43 2610 42165 0 Fax: +43 2610 42165 50
Website: www.weninger.com e-mail: weingut@weninger.com

It’s a common theme throughout many of Europe’s wine growing regions. In 1982 Franz Weninger (right) took over a seven hectare estate from his parents. At the time, the wine from the property was being sold in by the barrel-load to bulk purchasers, and only a small amount was bottled for a loyal band of regular customers. Franz, however, decided to take more pride in what his land was giving him, and in 1983 his Blaufränkisch Kabinett aroused the curiosity of the outside world: this was a good quality red wine from Austria, at that time a rarity. Since then Franz has built his reputation as the producer of some of Austria’s top red wines.

Weninger is located in Horitschon, in the Burgenland region; altogether there are 23 hectares of vines. The soils are deep, moderately heavy to heavy loamy topsoils, rich in clay and iron. The largest-planted grape is Blaufränkisch, but other varieties include Merlot, Zwiegelt, Cabernet Sauvignon, St Laurent and Blauer Burgunder. It’s almost exclusively red wine here, folks, and some 10 000 cases are made annually. 

Things must be going well, because they have built a swanky new winery and tasting room. The latter is very stylish: style seems to be important here, as reflected by the fantastic label design, which is modern yet quite classic. Beautifully poised. The wines follow a similar theme. They are concentrated and rich, yet avoid being over-modern and in a faceless international style. Instead, Franz seems to bring out the character and personality of his vineyard sites in these expressive, deep, fresh red wines.

Weninger Blaufränkisch Hochäcker 2002
Aged in large oak and used barriques. Deep colour. Quite a serious, savoury nose of dark fruits. Firm, savoury, spicy palate with a minerally intensity to the dark fruits. This leads to a firm, savoury, spicy palate with a mineral intensity to the dark fruits and good acidity. This is a firm, bright, savoury red with some depth to it. Pleasant spicy bitter plumminess on the finish: a good food wine. Very good+ 89/100

Weninger St Laurent 2002
This is a structured example of what is usually a lighter grape. Open nose of spicy, herby dark fruits: tight and full. The palate is fresh and quite elegant with herb-tinged fruit and good acidity. There is some tannic structure along with the fresh fruit. A little austere at the moment but real potential for development. Very good+ 88/100

Weninger St Laurent 2001
Open nose of cherryish fruit. Bright palate with a lovely elegant palate displaying cherryish, red berry fruit with nice acidity. Fresh and fruity: a satisfying lighter, fruity food wine. This is drinking better than the 2002 now, but the 2002 will likely be a better wine in time. Very good+ 88/100

Weninger Blaufränkisch Reserve 2002
This wine spends 15–18 months is barriques, the majority new, and malolactic fermentation is carried out in barrel. It shows an intense, tarry black fruits nose with well integrated oak. The palate is concentrated and intense with great depth of spicy dark fruits and some dark chocolate and spice on the finish. Good acidity and well defined, firm but refined. Lots of potential here for the future. Very good/excellent 92/100

Weninger Veratina 2002
A blend including Blaufränkisch, Merlot, Zwiegelt and Cabernet. Tight, herby, taut nose showing complex red and black fruits with a herby edge. The palate is herby with a tight tannic and acid structure, and beguiling spicy complexity. Well integrated oak: a more international style but still very nice. Very good/excellent 90/100

Weninger Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
The vines are 16 years old: for the first few years the wines were very green and Franz wanted to pull them out, but now he is happy he didn’t. Very deep coloured. Intense, dark nose of spicy black fruits. A brooding, dark wine. The palate is elegant with mouthfilling savoury dark fruits and spicy structure. A stylish modern-yet-elegant wine with great food compatibility. Very good/excellent 92/100

Weninger Merlot 2001
Sweet ripe fruit on the nose with a spicy, dark edge. The palate has lots of ripe red fruits with some spicy structure. Very focused and appealing but with a serious side to it. Very good/excellent 90/100

Weninger Merlot 2002
Very bright dark cherry and black fruits nose with a spicy sheen and hints of dark chocolate. The palate shows lush dark fruit with some firm tannins hiding underneath. Elegant dark fruits dominate here: this is modern but not showy and has great food compatibility. Real potential for development. Very good/excellent 91/100

Weninger Dürrau 2002
This flagship wine is from a single vineyard, purchased in 1996. 1999 was the first harvest, so here we are tasting a complete vertical – none was made in 2001. 45 year old vines planted at 6000 vines per hectare. 2500–3000 bottles made each year. This has an intoxicating nose of sweet, deep cherry and berry fruit with alluring depth. Smooth and intense. The palate is powerful and elegant with wonderful fruit quality. Spicy and full with good acidity. This wine has lots of personality: it is not a blockbuster but it shows good concentration and elegance. Very good/excellent 94/100

Weninger Dürrau 2000
Open ripe, slightly herby dark fruits on the nose: quite elegant and smooth. The palate is ripe and elegant with berry fruits and a spicy, minerally edge. Delicious and really hitting its stride with smooth tannins and great weight and balance. Very good/excellent 93/100

Weninger Dürrau 1999
Ripe, smooth and open nose with a hint of herbiness to the fruit. There’s a heady sweetness, too. The palate is open and ripe with lovely minerally structure underpinning the midweight berry fruit. Herby and elegant. A thought-provoking wine that is beginning to open out. Very good/excellent 92/100

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