Tokaj Tasting Notes – Tokaj Nobilis


My research on producers of Tokaj wines prior to my trip to the area in April of 2019 turned up quite a good number of candidates to visit. In narrowing down the number, necessary because of time constraints, I relied much on the advice of leading Hungarian wine writer – and friend – Daniel Ercsey. Among the producers Daniel advised to visit was Tokaj Nobilis, and this was further reinforced by that name cropping up in several other lists. So, a visit was called for.

Tokaj Nobilis is at home in Bodrogkeresztur, sort of just around the corner of the hill from Tokaj town itself. Winemaking and -ageing takes place partly in spanking new facilities and partly in ancient cellars dug into the hillside. The family runs a B&B on the property, and have a stylish new winetasting facility across the road from it.

Tokaj Nobilis is a family business, owned and operated by Sarolta Bárdos and husband Péter Molnar. They are both well-known characters within the recent history of Tokaj wine, Sarolta having worked for large producers Degenfeld and Béres, and Péter being the managing director of large producer Patricius.

One might be forgiven for thinking that this makes Tokaj Nobilis a hobby project on the side for the busy couple, but this is a very serious, high-quality undertaking in its own right. Production is around 20,000 bottles / year in a good year, from 7 hectares of organically farmed property. There are several of the big-name vineyards in the portfolio.

Winemaking is simple, clean, quite modern, using stainless steel vats for fermentation, selected yeasts and preferably used oak barrels where oak ageing is employed. The aim is to produce clean, elegant, vertical wines that reflect their terroir as much as possible.

I have discussed elsewhere the merits of using neutral selected yeasts to bring out a consistent vineyard character over time. I think that this is a valid approach, and it is being used to good effect here.

I sometimes come across opinion pieces by wine writers about the relative merits of producers that make “nose” wines vs. “mouth” wines, the notion being that in making wine one must choose whether to go for the wine’s potential aromatic qualities or for the potential mouthfeel and structure. I don’t necessarily agree that this is such a clear-cut choice, but in the case of Tokaj Nobilis one could actually talk about a producer whose wines have it more in the mouth than on the nose. I am not implying that the wines do not have aromatic qualities, because they certainly do, as you will see from my tasting notes, but they really shine in the mouth.

The wines come across as very stylish, lithe, elegant, much like Sarolta herself, in fact, with racy acidity and a lean, minerally intensity that prolongs the aftertaste significantly. The balance between acidity and sweetness is towards the dry side in these wines, with rather low residual sweetness numbers except where wines are made deliberately sweet; I like that a lot.

I rarely comment on label design etc., because I am much more into the contents, but the bottles and labels here are also very stylish and elegant.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Furmint 2018

100% Furmint. Sourced from estate vineyards. Aged 5 months, half in steel vats, half in 6-7-years-old oak barrels. Residual sugar 3-4 grammes per litre, acidity 6 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12.5%.

Sweet apple with sweet spice and sweet florality. Juicy, slender, high acidity, very minerally. Good length, lightly spicy aromas somewhat toned down compared to the nose.

Tokaji Furmint Barakonyi 2017

100% Furmint. From single vineyard Barakonyi. Fermented and aged for 5 months in 6-7-years-old oak barrels. Residual sugar 2-3 grammes per litre, acidity 7 grammes per litre. Alcohol 14%.

Somewhat neutral nose with dry apple, mineral and a touch of smoke. Medium full, excellent acidity, super juicy, quite tense. Long, vertical and super minerally. Volcanic. Intense.

Tokaji Hárslevelü Barakonyi “Hárs” 2017

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged for 5 months in old oak barrels. Residual sugar 2-3 grammes per litre, acidity 7 grammes per litre. Alcohol 13.5%.

Barely ripe peach, flowers and hints of smoke and clay on the nose. Juicy-tight, delicious, zingy, minerally, with a hint of sweet fruit. Long, clean and beautiful, lightly floral.

Tokaji Sárgamuskotály 2018

100% Sárgamuskotály. Fermented and aged in steel vats. Further data escaped me, except that it was deliberately made slightly sweet.

Fresh and charming, floral, aromatic, lightly spicy nose with hints of nectarine and lightly bitter herbs; tiny bit of reduction. Lightly sweet in the mouth, very fresh, with good acidity. Good length, elegant, freshly aromatic.

Tokaji Late Harvest “Amicus” 2013

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged in old oak barrels for 6 months. Residual sugar 120 grammes per litre, acidity 7.5 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12.5%.

Delicious, fresh nose of apricots, botrytis, bright minerals and flowers. Considerably sweet, offset by fresh acidity and towering minerality; great freshness to this all-out sweet wine. Lingers for very long, repeating the aromas from the nose.

 

This winery exudes style, elegance, clean lines and freshness, both in appearance and in the bottle, without in any way sacrificing terroir. That is an impressive balance to strike. Highly recommended.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Tokaj Nobilis.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Samuel Tinon


When I was planning my trip to the Tokaj area in April of 2019, several independent sources – writer friends, web sites and books – told me that Samuel Tinon was a must-visit producer, so I obviously made an appointment.

Now, Samuel Tinon does not exactly sound Hungarian, which is no coincidence, as Samuel is French. Samuel was, in fact, born and grew up near the city of Bordeaux, in the botrytised sweet wine-producing area of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, where his family owns a wine estate. Samuel also went to wine school in Bordeaux, but upon leaving wine school at the age of 22, he went straight to the Tokaj area, where he started working at the Royal Tokaji estate. So Samuel has been an integral part of the post-communist history of the Tokaj wine area basically since the very beginning.

At Royal Tokaji, which is a major foreign investment, he spent some formative years, working, among others, with the great Tokaj pioneer István Szepsy. After Royal Tokaji, Samuel joined another large foreign investment in Tokaj, Oremus. During his years at Royal Tokaji and Oremus, he undertook several study tours, among them, and importantly, to Jerez, where he studied Sherry-making.

In 2000, Samuel took the plunge and started his family winery in Tokaj, in the village of Olaszliszka. The Olaszliszka village lies on the Bodrog river, with Tokaj vineyards stretching from the relatively flat land along the river up into the hills to the west. Samuel has vineyards in Olaszliszka and elsewhere, with several parcels in highly-rated vineyards among them.

The wine is produced in the sprawling family house and facilities in Olaszliszka, and the entire operation has a very handmade, family feel to it.

It looks obvious, of course, considering his family roots, upbringing, schooling and work experience, that Samuel has taken a deep interest in the action of various micro-organisms upon wine. All of that could have given him a rebellious wish to do otherwise, but luckily he chose to just dig deeper. The botrytis fungus is the obvious one, Tokaj being richly endowed with the opportunity to make botrytised wines, but his studies have gone further than that. One organism that has a long history in Tokaj, and which is quite special to the area, is the cellar fungus cladosporium cellare, which inhabits almost all cellars there, where it feeds off the barrel fumes escaping during the ageing of wines in wood. In contrast to other cellar fungi, cladosporium cellare does not impart off smells or unwanted humidity to the cellar environment, and cellars in Tokaj generally have a fresh, clean air about them. Another organism studied is the yeast that forms a layer or film on top of wines that are aged in barrels that are not completely topped up, known as flor in the Jerez area, and also from the Jura mountains of France and the island of Sardinia.

Samuel is widely celebrated for his work with the actions of these micro-organisms upon wine, and particularly for his revival of an almost extinct type of wine, namely dry Tokaji Szamorodni. According to Samuel, dry Szamorodni is the only wine to be made with all three of those micro-organisms, and thus unique in the world. It was therefore with much positive anticipation that I travelled to the house in Olaszliszka.

Once settled at the Tinons’ kitchen table, tasting and conversation started. This was one of the most interesting tastings of my life, obviously because of the excellent wines, but at least in equal measure because of the highly illuminating conversation with Samuel. Samuel comes across as highly thoughtful and philosophical in the choices that he makes. He shies away from clichés, preferring instead to dig deep into detailed knowledge and scientifically illuminated experience, and very much to explore avenues of thought through open conversation.

Samuel’s approach to winemaking is quite simple, although it often leads to highly complex results: The wines are mostly left to do what they will, so, for example, if a Szamorodni decides to stop fermentation, it will be bottled as sweet, but if it decides to ferment to dryness, then it remains dry. He is a relative newcomer to the new dry table wines in Tokaj, but also approaches these in a thoughtful and balanced manner. Overall, his wines exude a living, breathing character. They are deeply faithful to the terroir, even when they have been subjected to the actions of various micro-organisms, and often very intense and complex, but only as a result of natural processes. These wines make up a useful and instructive counterpoint to some of the highly technological wines of the area, and are absolutely world class.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Hárslevelü 2018

100% Hárslevelü. Vineyards in Olaszliszka only. Fermented and aged 6 months in old oak barrels. Residual sugar 12 grammes per litre, acidity 7 grammes per litre. Alcohol 13%. The wine is deliberately lightly sweet, made as an “apéritif wine”.

Highly minerally nose with touches of dry apple, hay and slightly aromatic greenery. Juicy, excellent acidity and minerality, slight residual sweetness. Quite long, floral and minerally.

Tokaji Furmint Birtok (estate) 2016

100% Furmint. Vineyards across the Tokaj area. No further data, but clearly low residual sweetness and good acidity.

Very handsome and rather intense nose of hay / grass, with herbs, dry apple, wax and big minerality. Slender, juicy, dry, excellent acidity and minerality. Very long and minerally; very pure Furmint character. Uncompromising wine, exciting.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2009

90% Furmint, 10% Hárslevelü. Very high level of botrytis in the bunches. Fermented in old oak barrels, and aged for 6 years in not-fully-topped-up old oak barrels, with flor forming. Dry. Alcohol 14.5%. According to Samuel, the major part of the character of this wine is due to botrytis, not to flor.

Huge, highly complex nose with nutty / yeasty flor, nettle-y botrytis, peach, high minerality, lovely notes of greenery and spice. Elegant, fresh, almost slender. Complex aromatics as per nose, long and beautiful. Powerfully intense and complex, insanely interesting. Wow!

This is not a wine for everyone, given the somewhat Sherry-like notes, but I would suggest that for those who have an interest in this type of wine, this is a must-try. Absolute world class.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2011

Grape mix and vineyard provenance not given. Fermented for 1-2 years in old oak barrels. Alcohol 13%. Sweet wine.

Delicious, intense nose with apricot, botrytis, minerals, dried citrus peel and raisin. Intense sweetness is kept delicious by high acidity and minerality. Fresh, quite light despite intensity, and long, notes as per the nose.

Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2008

No data given (our conversation had strayed into other territory by this time), but clearly a sweet wine.

Deeply raisiny, caramelly nose with honey, apricot, minerals, touches of smoke, exotic wood, spice and quince; complex and intense. Sweet, searingly intense, fresh, acidic, juicy, minerally. Goes on and on with aromas as per the nose + botrytis. Bowled over. Fantastic wine.

 

The family winery of Samuel Tinon is a very personal project, and the wines that emerge from it are highly personal as a result. But – rather than personal preferences and wishes to make a mark by sweeping provenance and typicity aside – the personal project of Samuel emphasizes, even exalts, the character and typicity of his wines. These are highly accomplished wines, and among the best of their kind. Highly recommended.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Samuel Tinon.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Árpád-Hegy


When approaching the Tokaj area on the way from Budapest, the first town you encounter within the Tokaj denomination, the gateway to Tokaj, as it were, is Szerencs; this is marked by a stylized gateway in a central roundabout in Szerencs. The town itself is on flat land, but hills start on the outskirts, and the Tokaj wine from these hills once enjoyed a good reputation. Old wine cellars are excavated into the hills; they are mostly in private use these days, but the Varkolys of Árpád-Hegy have revived several of them and are using them for making and storing wine. Thanks to Árpád-Hegy, Szerencs is now back on the map of great winemaking.

Árpád-Hegy is owned by father-and-son team István and Ádám Varkoly. They are from a family with long roots in the area and a long involvement with wine. István himself has been a viticulturist for the larger producers in Tokaj for many years now, with a long stint, for example, at Degenfeld. Young Ádám is also a viticulturist by education, and before returning to the Tokaj area spent a few years working abroad, the longest stay being in New Zealand; apart from running the family winery, he also works as a viticulturist for others. There is a strong love of nature and the great outdoors running through the family, and it is obvious that growing stuff with respect for the environment takes priority. Indoors activities are only undertaken in case of need.

The Varkolys have a total of 13 hectares under vine in the Tokaj area, some of which are in Szerencs, but others also in renowned vineyards elsewhere, including Király, Betsek and Veresek in Mád, Sajgó in Bodrogkeresztúr and Zafir + Mézes Mály in Tarcal. Adam’s experience abroad has given him some excellent tools in terms of canopy management that are already showing interesting results, and which will no doubt stand Árpád-Hegy in good stead in this uncertain future of climate change.

Production is normally around 10,000 bottles/year, with a maximum of around 15,000. This is not much by most standards, and extremely low when the acreage is considered. While some grapes are sold off, such low production numbers are actually not that uncommon in the Tokaj area, where yields are typically low.

Árpád-Hegy’s cellars and tasting facilities in Szerencs are old and dug into the hillside, with a two-storey house fronting them. They have an interesting old history, having served as a bar with a brothel on top for many years, wine being made in the cellars behind the house. There are pictures and writings to prove it all. The Varkolys frequently open the facilities, which are not yet fully restored and functional, for parties and feasts.

Based on my tastings with Ádám in Szerencs, I would venture that the house style is very deliberate, driven by decisions in the vineyard as to acidity and sugar levels, and hence picking times. The dry wines are slender, vertical, very clean, very precise, with low alcohol, beautiful minerality and mouthwatering, excellently judged acidity; all of this without sacrificing intensity and impact. Much the same can be said of the sweet wines, which have wonderful freshness and drinkability allied to the concentration and body that comes with great ripeness and high sugar levels. Árpád-Hegy is without a doubt one of the reference producers of Tokaj today.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Furmint Estate 2018

100% Furmint. Vineyards in Szerencs only, vines planted in 1974. Fermented in old oak barrels, then aged 6 months in steel tanks. Residual sugar 4 grammes per litre, acidity 6.3 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12%.

Stylish nose of discreet peach, very pure minerality, slight hint of spice. Delicious fruit wraps itself around a skeleton of acidity and minerality. Slender and very good.

Tokaji Furmint Zafir 2017

100% Furmint. 60% fermented old oak barrels, the rest in steel tanks; aged 6 months in old oak barrels. Residual sugar 7 grammes per litre, acidity 7.6 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12%. Zafir is a vineyard in Tarcal with mainly loess soils; the vines for this wine are 20 years old.

Weighty nose with apple, hint of clay, rounded minerality and a hint of spice. Medium full, quite broad for a Furmint (loess does that), tiny hint of residual sweetness, all of it balanced by glittering acidity. Very long, slender, minerally. Lovely.

Tokaji Furmint Veresek 2017

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged for 6 months in old 500-litre oak barrels. Residual sugar 7.5 grammes per litre, acidity 8.6 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12%. Veresek is a vineyard in Mád with a few volcanic intrusions.

Rounded, intense nose of peach, light spice and rounded minerality. In the mouth intense acidity and concentration, very long and complete, with a slight hint of botrytis at the end. Wow.

Tokaji Furmint Király 2018

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged for 6 months in 1- and 2-year-old 500-litre oak barrels. Residual sugar 3 grammes per litre, acidity 6.1 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12.5%. Király is a vineyard in Mád with strongly volcanic soils.

Broad, peachy nose with light spice, towering minerality and a hint of soft herbs. Quite broad in the mouth, intense and powerful. Very long, with huge volcanics. Very young, fantastic future.

Tokaji Hárslevelü Estate 2017

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged for 6 months in steel tanks. Residual sugar 7 grammes per litre, acidity 6 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12%. Inspired by his time in New Zealand, particularly in terms of the management of Sauvignon Blanc, Ádám Varkoly has changed the canopy management of his Hárslevelü such that the grape bunches have more foliage and shade, which provides slower ripening and a higher level of aromatic, leafy compounds. Hárslevelü is a semi-aromatic variety, like Sauvignon Blanc, but the aromatics tend to be in the floral and spicy department more than the leafiness of Sauvignon Blanc, and Ádám’s idea is to round out and freshen the aromatics of the variety in this way. On the basis of this single wine, he has already succeeded spectacularly.

Full-on aromatics, with flowers, peaches, citrus fruits, green herbs and minerality. Quite soft, fresh, minerally and slender. Good length, mirroring the nose. Deeply charming, a very accomplished wine.

Tokaji Sárgamuskotály 2018

100% Sárgamuskotály. Fermented and aged for 6 months in steel tanks. Residual sugar 9 grammes per litre, acidity 6 grammes per litre. Alcohol 12%. This is deliberately made semi-dry.

Very fresh and slender nose with hints of citrus, flowers and fresh green herbs. Quite light in the mouth, lightly fruity, with a hint of residual sweetness, but ends on a rather dry/phenolic note. Not quite balanced, and the only non-stellar wine tasted at Árpád-Hegy.

Tokaji Hárslevelü Late Harvest 2016

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged for 6 months in steelk tank. Residual sugar 140 grammes per litre, acidity 8.2 grammes per litre. Alcohol 11%. This is actually from the Zafir vineyard, but not stated on the label.

Bright honey, botrytis, smoke and soft herbs on the nose. Fresh, amazingly light on its feet for such a sweet wine, very well balanced between sugar and acidity. Rather long, mirroring the nose + citrus. Good stuff.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2013

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged for 1 year in second use oak barrels. Residual sugar 170 grammes per litre, acidity 8.4 grammes per litre. Alcohol 10%. This is actually from the Király vineyard, but not stated on the label.

Beautiful, intense nose of citrus, botrytis/nettle, honey, soft herbs and hint of wood spice. Surprisingly fresh, light on its feet and balanced for such a sweet wine, with only a hint of wood tannin.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2017

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged for 1½ years in second and third use oak barrels. Residual sugar 110 grammes per litre, acidity 8.4 grammes per litre. Alcohol 10.5%. This is actually from the Király vineyard, but not stated on the label.

Somewhat reticent/young nose, broadly fruity, with hints of wax, minerals and light spice. Tight and juicy in the mouth, with great acidity and much extract. Very long and hugely minerally. Very young still, needs much time, but will develop into something spectacular.

Tokaji Ászu 6 Puttonyos 1997

75% Hárslevelü, 25% Furmint. Fermented and aged 5 years in 20-25-years-old oak barrels. Residual sugar 200 grammes per litre, acidity 9 grammes per litre. Alcohol 10%. This comes from the Király and Veresek vineyards in Mád, but not stated on label.

Tremendous and complex nose with botrytis, honey, caramel, smoke, minerals and exotic wood. Slender and fresh (incredibly), very intense. Huge length, complex as per the nose with intense minerality. Immortal wine.

 

The fact that Ádám Varkoly is still young tempts one to say that Árpád-Hegy is a promising, up-and-coming house, but that would be a mistake. The Varkolys are at the very top already, and while they may develop further, these wines can already be firmly recommended to anyone wanting to taste the excellence of Tokaji production today. World class available here, get there before everyone else.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Árpád-Hegy.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Gizella Pince


When I went to Tokaj in April 2019, my friend, the great Hungarian wine writer Daniel Ercsey, had recommended that I visit László Szilágyi, the owner of Tokaj producer Gizella. One cannot reject advice from that source, so of course I made an appointment.

The gentle giant Lászlo comes from a family that has been active in wine in Tokaj for generations, but struck out for himself in 2005, when he founded the Gizella Pince winery. Gizella has holdings in a number of excellent vineyards, such as Bomboly, Szil-völgy, Barát, Szent Tamás, Medve and Kastély. A range of single-vineyard wines has historically been made from these vineyards, but Lászlo has decided to slim down the range, for reasons of being able to offer a consistently good Estate product, and to not confuse the consumer with too much variety. When looking at other producers and their frequently large ranges of wines, I think this makes a lot of commercial sense.

Production is about 20.000 bottles/year, with a possibility to grow it up to possibly 30,000 bottles/year. Lászlo thinks he will need to keep it at or below that level in order to be able to deliver consistent quality.

While Gizella is headquartered in Tokaj, the wine is actually made in the communal winemaking facilities at Hercegkút. Lászlo is very intent on making a clean, consistent, drinkable product, so the modern steel tanks and bottling facility there suit him very well. Once grapes enter the facility, they are immediately pressed, and only the first pressing is used, in order to minimize bitter phenolics (Furmint, in particular, can exhibit a relatively elevated level of phenolics). Wines are fermented using selected yeasts, and are aged on the fine lees for a few months before bottling, parts in used oak barrels, but the majority in steel tanks.

In keeping with the stated philosophy of presenting fewer wines to the public, the tasting consisted of four wines only. While this is not a huge number from which to draw conclusions, I will venture some anyway. The first one is that Lászlo’s philosophy of cleanness and consistency in the wines clearly comes through in the wines; they are upright, vertical and have admirable consistency from nose to mouth to aftertaste. Secondly, the excellent vineyards shine through in the wines; there is depth, complexity and a beautiful vein of minerality on that upright background. And finally, yes, these wines are highly drinkable and easily understandable, in a non-banal and terroir-faithful way. These wines strike an admirable balance.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Hárslevelü Barát 2018

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented in stainless steel, aged 6 months in used oak barrels (20%) and steel tanks (80%). Residual sugar 8 grammes per litre, acidity 7.2 grammes per litre. Barát is a loess vineyard in Tarcal, on the side of Tokaj Hill. This wine has been made since 2006.

Lovely nose of peach with shimmering citrus and a touch of clay. Juicy, fresh and lively in the mouth, with a fruity-fleshy feel. Long and very minerally, ending on the same notes as the nose. Delicious!

Tokaji Furmint 2018

85% Furmint, 15% Hárslevelü. Fermented in steel tanks and aged 6 months in new oak barrels (10%) and steel tanks (90%). Residual sugar 3.8 grammes per litre, acidity 6.1 grammes per litre. This is the Estate wine, mixed from a variety of vineyards.

Quite deep and intense nose, mildly fruity with dry minerality and a hint of florality from the Hárslevelü. Lovely acidity, fruit and minerality and a long aftertaste mirroring the nose, with a hint of citrus, conspire to make this a juicy, fresh, delicious and very drinkable wine. To be downed by the bucketful.

Tokaji Furmint Bomboly 2017

100% Furmint, fermented in steel. Aged 6 months in oak barrels (50%) and steel tanks (50%). Residual sugar 8 grammes per litre, acidity 6.3 grammes per litre. Bomboly is a single vineyard.

Quite broad, impactful nose with dry apple and big hit of minerality; little hint of oak ageing. Intense, fat, yet vertical and elegant, wine that seems dry from big extract coupled with oak ageing. Long, with scintillating minerality. Rather good.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2017

45% Furmint, 45% Hárslevelü, 10% Sárgámuskotály. Fermented and aged 6 months in oak barrels. Residual sugar 143 grammes per litre, acidity 7.8 grammes per litre. This is obviously a sweet Szamorodni, with enough residual sugar to classify it is an Aszú wine.

Flattering, lightly floral nose with scents of peach, citrus, fresh minerality, hints of nettle-y botrytis and oak spice. Clean, fresh sweetness fills the mouth and is balanced by lovely acidity. Very long, mirroring the nose, with fresh minerality. Gorgeous. Yummy!

 

I enjoyed this tasting greatly, both for the warm hospitality and lucid vision of Lászlo Szilágyi and for the sheer quality of the wines we tasted. I have much time for his vision of an uncluttered, people-friendly version of great terroir wine. And make no mistake: Lászlo’s wines are not simple quaffers. Their drinkability and enjoyment factor spring from their innate freshness, elegance and liveliness, coupled with their faithfulness to a great terroir and great grape varieties, not from a levelling or filing down of those characteristics. Lovely wines, in other words, highly recommended.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Gizella.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Barta Pince


As I researched for my April 2019 tour of Tokaj, one of the producer names that surfaced frequently was Barta Pince. It was obvious that a visit was in order.

Barta is a family-owned operation, but slightly unusually so. The owner is business tycoon Károly Barta, who divides his time between his many pursuits. Daily operation in Tokaj is therefore undertaken by the staff there.

The winery, with B&B quarters, tasting room, exhibition room and so forth, is in the beautifully renovated 16th century Rákóczi-Aspremont mansion in Mád. While many places and businesses in Hungary have borrowed the famous Rákócsi name, this mansion was actually historically owned by the Rákócsis, although they, too, seem to have been mostly absentee landlords.

Barta relies predominantly on their Öreg Király (“old king”) vineyard for their grape material. Öreg Király is not an actual vineyard name, but the name Barta use for their section of the actual Király vineyard. The 10-hectare Barta section is the very highest, steepest part of Király. That section is a dramatically terraced, south-south-west-facing vineyard that was acquired by Barta in 2003. It had been abandoned, cleared of vines, since 1959, and was cleared and replanted at great cost in 2004-5. The communist era, in general, was not kind to quality viticulture, but may have been particularly deadly for the Király vineyard, parts of which were actually converted into a kaolin mine in 1960!

Barta also own 17 hectares of the adjacent Kövágó (stone cutter) vineyard, most of which lie fallow at present, with only 3.5 hectares under vine.

Both vineyards have volcanic soils, with rhyolite subsoils and obsidian and other volcanic intrusions.

Viticulture is basically organic, although not certified, and Barta say that one of the advantages of their Öreg Király having been abandoned in 1959 is that it was never subjected to the heavy chemical regimen otherwise applied during the communist era. The wines are fermented using ambient yeasts, and fermentations these days mostly take place in steel tanks, while ageing may take place in steel tanks and/or large-format oak barrels.

Barta’s winemaker used to be the legendary Attila Homonna, who has been described to me by someone in the know as “probably the greatest living Hungarian winemaker”. Homonna is said to have made wines in a round, structured, somewhat oaky style that emphasized ripeness, power and impact. This was borne out by the Homonna era wines I tasted.

New winemaker is the young and promising Vivien Ujvári, who after her Hungarian education did stints in Napa Valley, New Zealand and Australia before returning to Hungary. Ujvári has worked in the Tokaj area since 2013, and has been the winemaker at Barta since 2016. Ujvári’s style is quite different to Homonna’s. While the underlying power from the great vineyards is undeniable, the dry Barta wines these days are leaner, more vertical, emphasizing minerality, acidity and precision, and oak influence has been significantly reduced. I personally welcome that development.

Quality is high throughout the range of wines, testament to the great vineyards, of course, but also to the excellent people who are working with them. If I had to have one objection it would be that prices seem a bit high, but I am sure that is a deliberate choice on the part of Barta. It should be noted that since “Öreg Király” is not a designated vineyard name, it can be used freely, as a sort of trademark, and, indeed, all Barta wine labels sport that name.

 

On my visit to Barta in late April 2019, I was hosted by Gergely (Greg) Somogyi. Gergely is a wine writer, wine guide and consultant, extremely knowledgeable about all things Tokaj, a great host, and – to boot – sports the finest moustache and the nicest hat I have ever seen. A very elegant apparition. Gergely shared his enormous knowledge enthusiastically, and thus deepened my knowledge of the area and its wines immeasurably. I am deeply grateful for that.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Öreg Király Furmint 2013

100% Furmint, fermented and aged 8 months in oak barrels, some of which new. Residual sugar 8 grammes per litre, acidity 8 grammes per litre. Made by Attila Homonna.

Very minerally nose, with slightly bruised apple going on furniture polish, hint of clay. Full, quite powerful, seemingly dry, much extract, good acidity, slightly hollow mid-palate. Ends quite long, on the same notes as the nose.

Tokaji Öreg Király Furmint 2015

100% Furmint, fermented and aged 8 months in oak barrels, some of which new. Residual sugar 7.7 grammes per litre, acidity 6.8 grammes per litre. Made by Attila Homonna.

Dry apple, dark minerals and light oak on the nose. Juicy, firm, seemingly dry, with measured acidity, quite round and soft. Good length, as nose.

Tokaji Öreg Király Furmint 2016

100% Furmint, fermented and aged 3 months in oak barrels, none new. Residual sugar 8.9 grammes per litre, acidity 6.9 grammes per litre. Made by Vivien Ujvári.

Attractive nose with apple, soft green herbs and light smoke. Rounded, very faint residual sweetness, fresh acidity seems slightly lower than the preceding wine. Long, fresh, with a dry hint at the end that balances the wine and makes it very drinkable.

Tokaji Öreg Király Furmint 2017

100% Furmint, fermented and aged 4 months in large oak barrels. Residual sugar 7.1 grammes per litre, acidity 7.7 grammes per litre. Made by Vivien Ujvári.

Rounded, fruity nose, balanced by strong dry minerality. Juicy, intense, with lovely scintillating acidity. Long, with appetizingly dry finish. Excellent example of the new style. Delicious.

Tokaji Öreg Király Hárslevelü 2017

100% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Residual sugar 6.9 grammes per litre, acidity 8 grammes per litre. Maximum 500 bottles/year.

Peachy, floral, minerally, delicious nose. Juicy, well-rounded, balanced by excellent acidity. Long, with an appetizing dry note and big hit of minerality.

Tokaji Öreg Kiraly Furmint Late Harvest 2017

100% Furmint, fermented partly in oak barrels, partly in steel tank, aged for 4 months in oak barrels. Residual sugar 96 grammes per litre, acidity 6.7 grammes per litre.

Expressive nose of peach, honey, minerals and a hint of botrytis. Sweet and luscious, delicious because balanced by good acidity. Long and fresh, with notes replicating the nose. Delicious.

Tokaji Öreg Király Szamorodni 2013

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged in 18 months in oak barrels. Residual sugar 115 grammes per litre, acidity 6.7 grammes per litre. From the Homonna era.

Very expressive, slightly meaty nose with botrytis, herbs and spices. While this is clearly sweet, it seems slightly dry, obviously because of good acidity, but also because of the oak influence and age eating into the sweetness. Long and intense, notes as per the nose.

Tokaji Öreg Király Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2013

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged 3 years in oak barrels. Residual sugar 246 grammes per litre, acidity 7 grammes per litre. From the Homonna era.

Lovely, slightly toned-down nose with honey, minerals and botrytis. Sweet, but seemingly quite light, with excellent freshness and high minerality of the mountain brook variety. Good length. I was actually looking for a bit more personality, but I think this is in a youthful, closed-down phase at the moment.

Möbius 2008

100% Furmint. This cannot be labelled Tokaji wine, as it has undergone a somewhat unusual procedure. Fermentation was extremely slow, and lasted until 2013, with several refreshments along the way. The entire period of fermentation was in oak barrel. At the end, 28 grammes per litre of residual sugar remained. Very interesting, once-only experiment.

Very expressive, ligtly oaky nose with hints of oxidation and exotic wood. Intense and expressive in the mouth, light sweetness balanced by acidity and oak astringency. Very long and complex, with a final note of walnut. Very unusual and very interesting.

 

This was a highly interesting tasting of wines from a house that clearly has always produced high quality, but has changed style along the way. While the old style is impressive and powerful, I confess that I rather prefer the newer, fresher, more vertical style, which I think suits both the vineyard expression and Furmint (in particular) really well. Barta dry wines obviously have the stuffing to improve in bottle, and I think the new style should be conducive to that.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Barta.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Erzsébet Pince


On my scouting trip to Tokaj, Hungary, in April 2019, I visited one of the producers recommended strongly to me by several sources: Erzsébet Pince.

This was a revelatory visit. I obviously knew about, had tasted and had read up on Tokaj and its wines, but I had not tasted Erzsébet’s wines before. I was not prepared for just how good dry white Tokaj had become, so Erzsébet’s wines had a huge impact.

But more on that later. First, an introduction to the winery and the people.

 

Erzsébet Pince is owned by the Prácser family. Pater familias, Miklós Prácser Sr., and his wife Erzsébet, arrived in the Tokaj area in 1974, working for the state farm. As early as 1989, during the fall of communism in Hungary, Miklós started his own winery. Within short, he also became estate director for the large Degenfeld winery in the Tokaj area, and remained so for 17 years. During the same period, Erzsébet worked for several of the other large foreign investments in Tokaj, and among other things planted many of large producer Oremus’ vineyards. I think it would be reasonable to say that few other families would be able to match the Prácser family when it comes to sheer experience in making Tokaj.

Over the years, the Prácsers’ knowledge and acumen allowed them to pick up parcels in some of the greatest Tokaj vineyards. Total holdings currently stand at 15 hectares, of which 12 are in production. Vineyards include such hallowed names as Sajgó, Veresek, Betsek, Király and Zafir. They also have holdings in the Pécsi vineyard on the southeastern slope of Tokaj Hill, and the Betsek parcel is in the steep, terraced Burja subplot at the very top.

From the 12 hectares in production, the Prácsers produce around 10,000 bottles per year. While that is partially the result of selling grapes to others, that is still astonishingly little, and is testament to the singular quality focus at Erzsébet. Yields are kept very low, and even then, only the best grapes are kept for themselves. It is no coincidence that Erzsébet have won recognition, medals and prizes galore.

Current winemaker is Miklós Sr.’s son, Miklós Jr., who uses high-quality Hungarian and French oak barrels for the majority of the production. Production is state of the art, and the cellars are absolutely spotless. Non-aromatic selected yeasts are used for the entirety of the production, as Erzsébet want maximum consistency, to allow the terroir and vintage – and not whatever spontaneous microorganisms might appear – to come through every year. Some would say that ultimate terroir fidelity requires you to use ambient yeasts, but I have a lot of time for those that say that if you actually want to be able to consistently taste the difference between different vineyards and different vintages, you should provide as neutral a fermentation background as possible. And I would dare anyone to say that Erzsébet’s wines lack terroir transparency or fidelity.

Marketing and public relations are done by daughter Hajni, and it was Hajni I met during my visit. To my relief, Hajni spoke excellent English (I believe her husband is English…), and so conversation flowed effortlessly. Hajni came across as precise, extremely knowledgeable and with an undercurrent of deep passion for Tokaj, its wines and the family mission.

The name Erzsébet obviously derives from the mother, but also has another significance: The beautiful 18th century cellars in the centre of Tokaj town that form the backbone of the Prácsers’ enterprise once were the fermenting and ageing cellars of the Russian Wine Trading Company, which supplied the court of the Russian Tsars. So, since Erzsébet means Elisabeth, it was also obvious to use the name as a reference to famous Tsarina Elisabeth.

 

The Erzsébet house style is precise, elegant, lithe and fresh, but with great intensity and depth, even in the Estate wines. Terroir variation comes through strongly in the wines, in particular with a sense of scintillating minerality throughout the range. I get the feeling that I could never tire of these wines, their freshness, quality and sheer drinkability.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Furmint Estate 2017

100% Furmint, fermented and aged in 80% Hungarian oak and 20% steel tank.

Delicious, elegant nose with notes of apple, fresh and minerally, lightly floral. Again, delicious and elegant in the mouth, excellent acidity balanced by very slight residual sugar (no sense of sweetness). Intense, long and super delicious. And this is only entry level!

Tokaji Furmint Estate 2018

100% Furmint, fermented and aged in 80% Hungarian oak and 20% steel tank.

Fresh, delicious, ripely fruity nose, lightly floral. Medium full, great acidity is slightly less than 2017, lovely sense of fatness. Long, minerally, handsome.

Tokaji Zafir 2016

90% Furmint, 10% Hárslevelü. The Zafir vineyard in Tarcal is mainly loess, but with some clay and volcanic rock intruding. Fermented and aged in oak.

Broad, almost meaty nose with peach, sweet green herbs and light honey. Slender in the mouth, the taste borne by scintillating acidity. Long and beautifully minerally. Glittering, beautiful.

Tokaji Zafir 2017

90% Furmint, 10% Hárslevelü. The Zafir vineyard in Tarcal is mainly loess, but with some clay and volcanic rock intruding. Fermented and aged in oak.

Open nose with peach, wax, clay and the sort of soft greenery you get from loess soils. Beautifully enveloping fruit around a core of beautiful acidity. Looooong and soft and dry. Great. Give it time.

Tokaji Betsek 2017

80% Furmint, 20% Kabar. Fermented and aged for 6 months in oak. 900 bottles/year.

Sweetly fruity, broad nose with an undercurrent of minerality, light oak spice and a smoky hint. Very intense, broad, dry, with extract supporting sweet apple fruit and spice. Extends into great length. Still very young.

Tokaji Betsek 2018

80% Furmint, 10% Hárslevelü, 10% Kabar. Fermented and aged for 6 months in oak. 900 bottles/year.

Slender, aromatic apple on the nose, mountain brook minerality and hint of spice. Slender, intense, much extract, excellent minerality, slight hint of sweet alcohol and fine, sweet spice. Very long. Great future.

Tokaji Király 2016

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged in 100% new French oak for 6 months. Király (“king”) is a heavily volcano-influenced vineyard, with a subsoil of rhyolite and with obsidian intrusions. 600-900 bottles/year.

Sweetly green nose with clay, light exotic spice and wax. Scintillating acidity takes charge and gives you a vertical, mouthwatering, fresh, gigantically minerally wine. Long-long-long and intense. Super delicious.

Tokaji Király 2017

100% Furmint. Fermented and aged in 100% new French oak for 6 months. Király (“king”) is a heavily volcano-influenced vineyard, with a subsoil of rhyolite and with obsidian intrusions. 600-900 bottles/year.

Minerally nose with greenish hints, touch of wax and anise; still young and closed. Tight, mouthwatering, vertical, super-minerally, with glittering acidity. Very long, super delicious.

Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2010

100% Furmint. 170 grammes per litre of residual sugar. 10 grammes per litre of acidity. Very few bottles made.

Nose with honey, stinging nettle, malt drops, minerals, spice, hugely complex, but still fresh and young; full-on botrytis aromas develop with time in the glass. Great sweetness is balanced by amazing acidity and great extract. Very long and intense, with cool minerality. Still very young, will last and even improve for a long time.

Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2013

100% Furmint. 210 grammes per litre of residual sugar. 8 grammes per litre of acidity. Very few bottles made. 2013 is said to be a fantastic botrytis vintage.

Fantastic nose with peach, apricot, powerful bright minerality, great freshness and nettle-y botrytis. Great sweetness, almost liquid honey viscosity, but balanced by beautiful acidity. Extremely long and complex, repeating the impressions from the nose. Immortal. Wow!

 

We did not taste older dry wines at this sitting, but given the concentration, intensity, acidity and balance I expect enormous longevity and a staggering development in bottle, particularly for the single-vineyard bottlings. The dry wines should essentially develop like great dry Rieslings, which can be nigh-om immortal. By that, I also mean that complexity and minerality should increase significantly in bottle, even if from an already high level.

Tokaj sweet wines are obviously famous and have a long and glorious history, but the two Aszú wines tasted on this occasion were levels above what I had ever tried before, both in terms of intensity and in terms of freshness and cleanliness.

 

Erzsébet presented an extremely convincing flight of wines on this occasion. It is quite obvious that this was not a fluke, but the result of long experience and an ambition to reach the highest highs. This is a highly recommended, world-class producer.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Erzsébet. However, given the quality on offer here, I will not at all rule out that I will try my hand at that later on, if they’ll let me.

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Tokaj Tasting Notes – Paulay Borház


When I went to the Tokaj area, Hungary, in late April 2019, my friend Daniel Ercsey had recommended Paulay Borház as a good place to stay. What he did not stress was that Péter Hudák, proprietor of Paulay, also makes wine, but that became apparent when I checked Paulay out on the net. As far as I am concerned, with Paulay’s convenient situation in the very centre of Tokaj town, with easy access to restaurants, cafés and other wine producers, that made it a perfect choice to stay on a scouting trip of the area.

Paulay Borház traces its activity back to the 18th century, but resurfaced in its modern incarnation in 2008. The building that houses its B&B activity, as well as the family home, dates back to the 1950’ies, but was completely restored, enlarged and modernized in 2010-11. I found the B&B to be very convenient, modern and simple, clean and wonderfully quiet. Hospitality is excellent, warm and welcoming, but not intrusive, and good English is spoken. I strongly recommend it is a place to stay if you’re going to Tokaj.

The house sits on top of the cellar where wine is made and aged. The cellar has a bar and a couple of cosy rooms where you can sit and taste the wines made in-house. I was told that the Hudák family can also do traditional Hungarian dinners if ordered in due time.

Paulay is a tiny wine producer, making wine from just under 1.5 hectares of vineyard, which yield an annual production of around 3,500 bottles. Vineyards are all in and around Tokaj Hill, meaning that soils are loess, with no or little volcanic influence. Paulay has holdings in Nyesti (0,35 hectares), Melegoldal (0,5 hectares) and Verebes (0,55 hectares) vineyards. Verebes is Paulay’s top vineyard.

Of the grape varieties officially sanctioned for Tokaj production, Paulay grows Furmint, Hárslevelü, Sárgamuskotály, Köverszölö and Kabar. But it is a glorious fact that Péter Hudák is an irrepressible experimenter, and as a result has taken it upon himself to grow small volumes of some of the varieties that were grown in profusion prior to the arrival of phylloxera in the 1880’ies (and, I suspect, a few later arrivals). Péter’s pre-phylloxera selection is made up of Lisztesfehér, Bakator, Járdovány, Polyhos, Sárfehér, Sárga Ortliebi, Budai Gohér, Török Gohér and Piros Lisztes.

Péter’s experiments are not limited to growing rare grape varieties. With such limited vineyard holdings, Paulay is extremely affected by the individual vintage, and so not every possible wine is made every year. Péter therefore resorts to making the wines that make sense in a given year, with a few experiments thrown in here and there, including making varietally pure wines from minor and old varieties. The result is a rather great profusion of different wines from different vintages, and that makes a tasting in the Paulay cellar a very entertaining and interesting exercise.

With such tiny volumes and constant experimentation, Paulay cannot be counted among the best Tokaj producers, on the simple basis that it is impossible to establish a track record. However, the wines are well made, never less than interesting, with great personality and seem to have good ageing capacity. I can only recommend trying out Paulay if you are in the area.

 

My tasting notes follow. As usual, no colour notes, and no points scoring. They wouldn’t tell you anything relevant anyway.

 

Tasting notes:

Tokaji Sárgamuskotály 2015

This was fermented and aged in steel tank, using selected yeasts. It would be released during the spring of 2020.

Typically aromatic nose, fresh and lightly minerally. Soft and fresh in the mouth, ending on a minerally note. Good, not great.

Tokaji Cuvée Paulay Borház 2016

Made from 70% Furmint, 30% Hárslevelü. Fermented in 5-6 years old oak barrels, using ambient yeasts. Bottled shortly after fermentation finished.

Nose of peach skin, yeast and light minerality. The body is light, yet firm and with the round feel you get from loess soils. Good acidity ensures length, with quite strong minerality.

Tokaji Furmint 2015

100% Furmint. 2/3 fermented in acacia barrel, 1/3 fermented in steel tank, using ambient yeast. Unfiltered.

Nose of light honey, barely ripe peach, light spice. Good body, loess roundness makes it feel not quite dry (but it has very low residual sugar), very fruity and excellent freshness. Ends on an appetizing, slightly bitter note of peach skin. Long and intense.

Tokaji Furmint “Bitangjó” 2016

This hails from the single vineyard of Verebes on the eastern side of the Tokaj Hill. The vineyard parcel is very steep and terraced, and vines are around 50 years old. Fermented and aged for 6 months in 2-3 years old oak barrels using ambient yeast.

Quite intense nose of peach, sweet grass, with a slightly waxy element. Quite fat and intense, with handsome acidity giving backbone. Long and minerally, with lightly bitter peach skin and hint of musk.

Tokaji Hárslevelü 2015

Fermented and aged in used oak barrels using ambient yeast.

Delicious nose of ripe apple, peach, apricot, with a hint of well-integrated warm spice from the oak. The same notes in the mouth, lovely acidity balancing with medium body and very slight residual sugar. Long, with minerals and spice.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2014

This is a dry Szamorodni. Lightly botrytized bunches of grapes were harvested, pressed and then fermented and aged for three years in oak barrel. Fermentation using ambient yeast, ageing in partially filled barrels under a layer of flor. No sulphur added at any point, and no fortification.

Complex nose reminiscent of Fino Sherry, with the addition of green nuts and barely ripe peach. Quite powerful in the mouth, round fruit balanced by excellent acidity. Long, with notes walnut, exotic wood, light fruit and cool minerality. Very interesting.

Tokaji Sárgamuskotály 2017

This is a sweet Muscat, fermented and aged in steel tank.

Sweet, grapey nose with lovely elderflower aromatics and hints of sweet green herbs and mineral. Light, not very intense, with a fresh sweetness. A deliberately simple wine, easy to drink.

Tokaji Köverszölö 2018

This was a tank sample; not yet released. Fermented and aged for 4 months in used oak barrels using ambient yeast. 80 grammes per litre of residual sugar, so sweet.

Nose of white peach, fresh minerals, citrus peel and sweet / dry / woody spice. Fresh, light, mild, lightly sweet. Long aftertaste of citrus peel and spice.

Tokaji Furmint Hárslevelü Köverszölö 2016

This is a deliberately sweet wine with 44 grammes per litre of residual sugar. Made from 40% Furmint, 40% Hárslevelü and 20% Köverszölö. Fermented and aged in oak, using ambient yeast.

Nose of woody spice, peachy and floral hints. Feels slightly sweeter than semi-sweet, the sugar being balanced by acidity and extract. Long, with notes of woody spice, honey, green herbs and mineral. This feels slightly disharmonic at present, but has lots of interesting notes, so give it time.

“Nyarhajú” Cuvée 2016

This is a 100% Lisztesfehér, so cannot call itself Tokaji wine. Fermented in oak barrel, using ambient yeast, aged in steel tank. 60 grammes per litre of residual sugar.

Somewhat neutral but minerally nose with hints of light honey. Good body, yet very fine and fresh, with excellent acidity; sweetness seems low compared to the number. Long, with a strong mineral lift.

“Arborétum” Cuvée 2017

This is a mix of all of the grape varieties grown by Paulay. This means that many non-compliant varieties are part of it, so cannot call itself Tokaji wine. Fermented in oak barrel, using ambient yeast, aged in steel tank. The grapes are late harvest, with no botrytis, 80 grammes per litre of residual sugar.

Intriguing honeyed nose with light peach fruit and sweet green herbs. Quite sweet, but fresh, with a markedly honeyed touch and the round body that comes from loess soils. Long and quite aromatic.

Édes Verebes 2017

Late harvest wine from the Verebes vineyard. 50% Hárslevelü, 35% Köverszölö, 15% Sárgamuskotály. Fermented and aged 4 months in oak, using ambient yeast. 121 grammes per litre of residual sugar.

Markedly minerally nose, followed up by the strongly woody notes from Köverszölö. Full-on sweet, with excellent acidity lending freshness. Long and minerally, with Köverszölö woody spice.

Tokaji Szamorodni 2012

This is a sweet Szamorodni, made from partially botrytized bunches of 50% Furmint, 50% Hárslevelü. Fermented and aged for 2 years in oak barrels, using ambient yeast. The barrels were kept topped up, avoiding the development of flor. 94 grammes per litre of residual sugar.

Waxy nose with slight VA, peach skin and some sweet herbs. Wonderfully spicy, honeyed mouth, with sweetness and acidity in perfect balance, fat and round, yet fresh. Long and spicy. Delicious.

Tokaji Fordítás 2013

Fordítás is a “second wine” made from the Aszú dough that has already been used once for Aszú wine. The base wine used was 100% Hárslevelü, and the Aszú berries were from all of the allowed varieties grown. Fermented and aged 4 years in oak barrels, using ambient yeast. 88 grammes per litre of residual sugar.

Quite neutral nose with a hint of furniture polish. In the mouth, sweetness is balanced by light VA and some woody notes. Good length and good freshness, with a slight hint of bitterness.

Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2013

The Aszú berries were from all of the allowed varieties grown, and the Aszú dough was macerated in fermenting Hárslevelü base wine for one day. Fermented and aged 4 years in oak barrels, using ambient yeast. 158 grammes per litre of residual sugar, 9.5 grammes per litre of acidity.

Waxy, round, appley, almost meaty nose with light spice and hints of botrytis (nettle), flowers and nuts. Intense and fresh, with great sweetness balanced by high acidity. Very long, with hints of honey, intriguing spice and a hint of balancing bitterness.

 

End Note

The range and quality of the wines at Paulay Borház are quite staggering, given the tiny volumes produced. You have to commend Péter Hudák for the work he does, and in particular for his commitment to the old varieties. Definitely worth a visit, particularly if you, like me, are a nerd that has great fun tasting rare and unusual things.

 

Declaration of Interest: Apart from writing about wine, I am also a wine merchant. I do not at the point of writing import or sell wines from Paulay Borház.

Posted in Dessert Wine, Hungary, Sweet Wine, Tokaj, White wine, Wine, Wine producers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment