Wine often tells a story, and this one is no exception. Ponzichter (meaning ‘bean grower’) is the old name used for German-speaking wine growers in the Sopron region of Hungary, owing to their habit of planting vegetables, mainly beans, between their vines. This method piqued Franz Weninger’s interest as it is mirrored today by regenerative practices employed in biodynamic vineyards. Interweaving vines with other plants diversifies the vineyard’s ecosystem and stabilises soil, while beans are nitrogen-fixers: sequestering nitrogen from the air and releasing it slowly into the ground. Since 1828 the Weninger family have been committed to old vines and the soil in which they are rooted; an approach which Franz continued when he took over the winery in 2000, fully converting to organic farming in 2006. Franz’s 2018 harvest t-shirt shows his dedication to the land and the cultural element of farming, bearing the slogan ‘Rage Against the Machine’. Franz puts hand-harvesting in the spotlight, tackling the harmful effect of heavy mechanical harvesters which scar vegetation, compact soil, and erode quality and culture.
Located in the far-eastern borderland region of Burgenland, the Weninger family has an estate on either side of the Hungarian-Austrian border. The grapes for this wine were harvested from both. This moderately tannic wine blends Zweigelt with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. The fermentation is a combination of whole berries and mash - the pulp of seeds, skins and fruit that results from pressing. It is aged for 18 months in 40 year old oak barrels and bottled with no filtration and minimal sulphites. Spicy and strawberry-like on the nose, this is an energetic red with sour cherry flavours and deep forest undertones. Pair with a winter’s night, or pumpkin ravioli.