PETER WETZER

The fact that Peter Wetzer makes any wine at all is a little astonishing. Firstly, he is located in Sopron, a small region on Hungary’s boarder with Austria. His absolutely tiny cellar (if you can even call it that) is in the basement of his family house, in a suburb; shockingly, it’s more complete than his newly obtained cellar, several stories under a house built in the 1700s that looked more like a demolition zone than a winery.

We met him at his home and proceeded to climb into his truck in which he took us places I never imagined vehicles could access. We visited some of the microscopic plots he now farms, many of which are surrounded by nothing at all. The Pannonian wind knocked us around almost the entire time – despite the intensity of the sun it was a little brisk. From extinct volcanoes, to near-cliffs that gaze out over Austria’s Neusiedlersee, his terroirs are incredibly unique. He fights tooth and nail to acquire these little chunks of land from unwilling old farmers stuck in their agricultural habits. He farms organically, usually only spraying copper, sulphur, and nettle tea twice a year, and using cover crops instead of fertilizer. All this work is done manually; luckily, Peter is no small man.

His determination is bordering on insanity, but after seeing the sites he’s trying to replant, learning about the history of the town and the region, and tasting the wines, we understand how he keeps going. To fund this little project, he works a couple days each week at a gas station – who said winemaking is glamorous?! With only a couple stainless steel tanks, a manual basket press, and some old barrels, he pushes onwards.

2017 SOMLO FURMINT

The grapes for this cuvée come from the eastern side of the Somló volcano. Soils here are Basalt, Tuffeau, and Loam as one might expect. The grapes are crushed by foot and then whole cluster pressed in an ancient and tiny hand-cranked basket-press. The wine then ferments in neutral puncheon over the fall and winter. Once the wine is dry it gets racked into stainless steel for five months. A small amount of Sulphur is added at bottling. (Sadly, the 2018 vintage from this vineyard was totally lost so it will be a while until we see this cuvée again)

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2017 KEKFRANKOS

This wine is made from parcels all around the ancient town of Sopron on the Austrian border. The vines are all well over thirty years old and are planted on a variety of soils including schist, loam, limestone and loess. This year, he declassified the fruit from my favorite vineyard (Silberberg) into this cuvée. The grapes are fermented in open top wooden vats with 5% remaining whole-clusters. It then ages in old neutral barrels on lees without stirring.

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2017 TOKAJ FURMINT

This wine is made exclusively from Furmint grown in Tokaj, North-Eastern Hungary. The organically farmed vines are 45 years old. The grapes are crushed by foot before being whole-cluster pressed into a combination of stainless steel and Hungarian oak puncheon. After a short élevage the wine is racked and bottled.

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