Clear-cut – We talked to Gergő Böjt

If we’d have had no idea where we were heading to, we’d never have found out which one the Böjt Winery was among Ostoros street’s small, identical-looking family cellars. Maybe only from the fact that no sign, arrow or battered board signals the Böjt winery – contrary to loads of other neighbouring wineries. Anyone who enters through the tiny entrance door and immediately finds themselves in a spacious and orderly cellar can feel like an insider. That’s how we felt, even though we were not first-time visitors. Over the last couple of years, it’s not just those who are interested in the Eger wine region that have picked up on and have been paying attention to the Böjt wines. 

“I want to have as many grapes as I can care for” 

“You can feel that he’s a globetrotting winemaker.” “I like it that he doesn’t want to make a lot of different wines,” said our colleagues when we tried all the Böjt wines. This openness and refined approach can also be detected with everything else that happens in the winery, not just with the wines. “Currently we have 16 hectares, but we would like to downsize and re-assess them,” Gergő begins. “The aim is to have a maximum of 12 hectares but that should be in one vineyard block. I want to have as many grapes as I can care for, to be able to make quality wine from them. Having the vineyards in one spot naturally has other advantages: spraying is easier and plant protection is more economical. However, it can possibly have one disadvantage in that the wines might be less diverse.” Even now, they have 60-70% of their parcels on 10 hectares of the Ostoros Kutyahegyi vineyard, as Gergő’s father had already started re-grouping the plots. In the last couple of years, there was a generation change in the management as the parents handed over the torch to their offspring, and now it’s Gergő and his sister who are doing the lion’s share of the work. “Bogi has just finished her viticulture-oenology studies, she’s mostly interested in the grapes and helps with that side. They’re doing pruning now, she directs the work in the vineyard while I manage the cellar.”

 

“Hárslevelű… that’s the project for the spring”

“We plant every second row with plants to fill the soil with life. We chose mustard flower, white and red clover, legumes and plants with long roots that go down deep into the soil, so that the water can reach as deep as possible. Organic or biodynamic growing is not necessarily the goal; this would hardly be achievable but we seek to use as few chemicals as possible. As long as the vineyard is not in one block, this is even more difficult because of the neighbouring plots. Whatever I can, I mechanize. I did the harvest with my sister. We collected samples from both ends of a row, we used a small hand press. Bogi measured the sugar and the pH rate** with a refractometer*. I like to see the numbers and we plan to set up a small lab. I like Kékfrankos a lot, this could be one of the most important wines of the winery. I don’t have Hárslevelű yet, that’s the project for the spring. I’ll replant the older Olaszrizling and Leánykas of the current parcels, in the places where the distance between the rows is large and there are few vines by plot.”

 

 

“Fermentation is over-mystified”

“Wherever I can, I protect the grapes and the wine – I’d rather play it safe. The sooner the grapes get into the cellar and pressed the better. With the white wines, oxidation should be minimal to the must. I don’t crush the red wine grapes, only destem them and most often do it with pumping over.

This is not a fully technical cellar, but fermentation is always controlled with cultured yeast. For me, this gives peace and safety. There are of course naturally-occurring yeasts in the cellar… But I wouldn’t like the wines to go off in a direction that I didn’t like with spontaneous fermentation. I think fermentation is over-mystified – to have it spontaneously fermented and what yeast one should inoculate with. I don’t believe in the character change of controlled fermentation wines.

We only do malolactic fermentation with the reds, there’s no need for it in whites. Malic acids could even suit a simple tank-made wine. Eger is not strong in acidity, so I really pay attention to the pH, especially in warm years, in order to avoid the acids burning off.”

 

There is no minimalism with barrels

“Some 40,000 bottles are made annually at the Böjts, but just as in the case of territory, with the wine range the main point is not quantity. They only have four different wines, no more. The Egri csillag and the Bikavér are the two flagship wines of the cellar, the Kékfrankos is the top wine. With whites, there can be the already mentioned Hárslevelű, in about 5-10 years time. “And there will also be Riesling alongside the Olaszrizling… a Riesling selection. Perhaps only as an experiment, the same way as I also have experiments with Sauvignon Blanc, besides that I also put some into the Egri csillag as well.” Gergő isn’t so minimalistic when it comes to barrels: “With the reds, I use second- and third-fill barrels mixed with new ones and I noticed that it’s also beneficial if there is a bit of tank-made wine in it. I already have a lot of different barrels, Kádár barrels for the Kékfrankos, Trust for the Cabernet, I have Medium, Medium+ toasted barrels. My concept is to have altogether 60-70, out of which 6-8 are renewed every year. The 2015 Bikavér is the outcome of my barrel experiments. I aged the varieties in 25 different barrels, with different toast levels, made by three different coopers. The result is more exciting and more layered. The wines spend 10-12 months in barrels on average. There are ones that I will age longer, but these wines only require that time, no more.” 

 

*refractometer          

A device for the measurement of the index of refraction. Several rates can be measured with it, in winemaking, for example, the sugar and acid content from several drops of must.   

**pH rate

The pH rate of the must sample shows its acid-alkaline balance. It gives more accurate information about acidity then the acid content by itself. 

 

 


 

Gergő Böjt

Born into winemaking. Or not.

Gergő wasn’t sure whether he would continue the family winery, even when he was doing his viticulture-oenology studies at the Horticultural University, or if he would go into winemaking at all. “To some extent the road was defined, but it wasn’t obvious to me for a long time. I wasn’t sure about it until after university, when I went to California. I spent two harvests at a custom-crush winery, and that’s where I saw and felt how beautiful this profession is. Already when I was there, a New Zealand visit was shaping up, I almost went from one country to the other.”

There is a circle in Eger

“We regularly get together with 10-12 young Eger winemakers, Ádám Nyolcas, Titi Gál, Balázs Havas and Gergő Soltész from Ostoros (where I think I huge change has occurred in the last 10 years), Gyuri Lőrincz Jnr., Ádám Molnár (who is winemaker at Bardon in Tokaj but is originally from Eger), Ádám Horváth, Péter Szerdahelyi (the young winemaker from the Nimród Kovács Winery) and Noémi Pintér… We talk and taste each others’ wines and other wines, thematically.”

Lots of travel, lots of tasting

Gergő believes you have to travel every three months, even if it’s only for a couple of days or a long weekend, but one has to go, eat, see, taste, recharge and get new impressions: “I’m open to whatever comes. Even to a gin and tonic. However, even during my travels, wines are at the core. I love Champagne, when I can, I go there every year. I also often go to Italy or to Austria to taste Riesling. I’ve not been to Burgundy but I’d really like to go there – that might be the next destination. I also travel within the country, now to Szekszárd, to where Villány and Szekszárd winemakers organised a trip. There, I have a friend, Jocó Rappay at the Szent Gaál winery, Tomi Kis in Somló, Csaba Török from the 2HA at the Balaton …”