István Balassa - Tokaj

“Quality primarily depends on the raw material, and the fact that the quality of the grapes is the highest at the time of picking. Every step of processing only makes things worse. Spontaneous fermentation doesn’t make the wine better, but merely gives it a different style. Now I’m planning things in a more bohemian way. I look at the stones and the soil in the vineyard and I conjure up what the wine is going to be like. I set foot in Betsek in 2006. As I cycled around the vineyard, I noticed that the rocks and geological composition changes from metre to metre. That’s how the idea of the Betsek trilogy was born. I can’t change the place of growth. There are both historical and current characteristics that have been significantly modified with climate change. While earlier the aim was to achieve higher sugar content, dry wines play the more important role today. The viewpoint is different.” – István Balassa.

Winemaker: István Balassa

Vineyards: Donáth, Thurzó, Mézes-mály, Hangács, Kakas, Betsek, Nyúlászó, Szent Tamás, Bomboly

Foundation of the cellar: 2005

Area: 7 ha

Annual production: 10, 000 bottles


According to Pisti, the Hárs puts down an impression sooner, while the Furmint develops more slowly and takes longer to age. He doesn’t complicate things with the question of spontaneous versus controlled fermentation: you start off on a road and continue along it, he says. He chose the spontaneous way; fermentation takes place with natural yeast in barrels. The basic principle of barrel use is that he lets the impact of the place of growth prevail and he doesn’t allow the oak to reign over the fruit. He doesn’t bottle the wines from new barrels. In the second year, sweet wine makes it into the barrels and only from the third year does he use it for ageing dry wines – exactly at the time when Oremus sells them.