Tokaj – Interpreting Terroir


What makes Tokaj special – at least compared to the other wine regions of Hungary? Primarily the terroir of course although perhaps just as important are how the producers interpret the outcome of it. The styles between them differ a lot but it’s quite rare to bump in to over-extracted bombastic wines which sadly still are highly regarded in the country’s, mainly red wine regions.

Some producers focus on the loess soil in the south, around the town of Tokaj for example, others on clay at the village of Mád. In the northern parts of Tokaj the single vineyards are not as well-known yet, but perhaps these are the ones that are worth keeping an extra eye on considering the greatness of for example Bott’s Csontos site and Demeter Zoltán’s Boda.

Here’s my photographic teaser number two from Tokaj, before going more in to depth of my impressions from the 2013 visit.

_MG_5884A much longed for rain passed by Tokaj last Sunday afternoon. Although the region do possess a good amount of older vines with deep root systems there’s also a lot of new plantations which really needed the drink. On the photograph taken just before the storm, the loess based Zafir dűlő where Erzsébet Pince owns a part.

IMG_5972Ever heard of Bott Pince? If not, remember the name. This is top, top quality and honest expressions of the single vineyards sites which the producer holds. Judit (on the photograph) and József Bodó are the future of Tokaj and have only started scratching the surface. I just know it’s a matter of time before they take the next step and closes in at the highest of levels. Taste the 2011 Teleki or the 2011 Csontos and you will understand.

IMG_6005See that red little thingie, the wire on the vine? It’s causing sexual confusion by sending out pheromones, keeping the vermin away. The producer of Tokaj-Hétszőlő are organically certified and it’s quite an impressive work behind it, to treat a classic south-facing site of this size without pesticides and fertilizers. Respect.

IMG_6032Pinot Noir in Tokaj? Hell yeah! After all, it’s been around since the 19th century, already documented as being planted back then as Nagy-Burgundi. But it’s not one of the six approved grapes of Tokaj so red wine in the region can only be classified as the more generic Zempléni. Most promising examples of the variety tasted at Sauska and Dobogó.

IMG_5712László Szilágyi at Gizella Pince. I just love his Hárslevelű from the single vineyard of Szil-völgy. Most consumers believe that Furmint is the great grape of Tokaj but producers like László for example, clearly shows the true potential of Hárslevelű. To find out more about Gizella, click here.