Ottó Légli - 20 years

It’s now 20 years since Ottó Légli’s wine first made it into the Bortársaság selection. The wine in question was the 1994 Pinot Blanc. To mark the occasion, we sipped wine with Ottó and Bogi and tasted the two latest releases of the winery.

A somewhat obvious question it may be, but what was the past 20 years like for you?
Arduous, intense and quick. A lot of things have happened and a great deal has changed. We had five hectares of vineyards back then and now we have 33. I was 36 then and now I’m 56. We’ve learnt, experienced, built and become wiser. The constant thing in my life, apart from my father, has always been my dedication towards wine.

Before we start reminiscing about the past with tears in our eyes, everybody knows that you’re a great Olaszrizling fan, yet you put significant emphasis on the Burgundy varieties…
Indeed, Chardonnay has interested me ever since the beginning because I regard it as an intelligent variety and here it produces serious fruit acids even besides nice ripeness. And just to mention an example of working democracy in our family: when we were planting the Landord in 1999 and 2000, my father wouldn’t speak to me for two weeks because according to him it wasn’t safe to cultivate in such a steep and eroded plot.


You mentioned the Landord but this wine is the 2013 “estate” Chardonnay…
Yes, because in 2013 beside the crop of the János-hegy vineyard we blended in about 20% from the Landord. It was an ideal vintage, warm but not stricken by heat shock, with sufficient rain at the right times. It yielded healthy, ripe fruit with beautiful acidity. It was fermented as usual in 500-litre used barrels, and then it was aged on its fine lees for three months. Altogether it spent nine months in oak.


How about the Pinot Noir?
It might sound as if I’m joking, which I never do incidentally, but I planted it because of Champagne. I’ve – we’ve – always loved bubbles and if all the stars shine in the right place, we would like to make sparkling wine from the Pinot as well. However, 2012 was a crazily hot year, so it became a red wine. It was fermented in open vats, it was brutally fruity with zero tannins. That’s why we put it into new, 500-litre barrels. We racked it off after a year and a half of ageing. As some of my educated red wine colleagues would say, it’s a wine you don’t have to wake up for in the middle of the night.


As we started out with this theme, let’s be consistent: what are your plans for the next 20 years?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. Let’s stay within a five-year period. The aim is for more direct and purer wines to come out of the cellar. And at least one sparkling wine from the Burgundy varieties for Bogi’s sake.