Sauska – We have numerous stories to tell

Starting up a large new winery in Villány at the beginning of the 2000s sounded like a crazy idea at the time, especially given the fact that the majority of the founding team isn’t even from there. Winemakers Ildikó Markó and László Latorczai arrived from Budapest and next to Balaton, while owner Krisztián Sauska – despite his childhood in Somberek and his Villány roots – was still considered as an “American” by the locals. Still, it was this lack of a past that granted them such freedom, whereby the unusual Sauska name with its various blends could beef itself up. We spoke to the team behind the Sauska winery in connection with the new vintage of the Cuvée 7s and the international success story of the Cuvée 5s, about Villány, Siklós and – since it’s a significant part of the story – about Tokaj as well. 

Sauska Krisztián Latorcai László és Wéber Norbert Markó Ildikó Rakaczki Gábor

The code name: 571113105107111113

"We were not a traditional winery stretching back several generations and we didn’t even try to pretend to be one. We had complete professional freedom and we could therefore set off in any direction. Our label honestly captured this starting point: we wrote our surname on it, just like everybody else does. And there was the symbol of our imperfection, the hole and lots of room in all directions,"says the Sauskas about the beginning, when the series with the prime numbers was born. "It was Krisztián who brought the prime numbers into the picture. When he was a child, he did his maths homework in three different ways on the tram so that he wouldn’t be bored. We decide on the final numbers and if a certain cuvée should be created in a particular vintage; whether it be after the first harvest, the first tasting together or after learning about the quality.

 

C5

There is no perfect wine, so we can’t use the smallest prime number of two. About number three, we thought, and indeed believe, that we’ll attempt to achieve this. The first, the big wine, the photo finish winner in good vintages is always Cuvée 5, the wine of the long, exciting, laborious marathon that comprises a bit of everything: the weather; the aspect of our vineyards; the development of our grapes; the condition of the vines; the quality of our barrels; and our current knowledge about grape growing and winemaking. And of course, there’s our state of mind, the dynamics, the concentration of the harvest and the quality of our decision making.

 

C7

The two cuvées capture the moment after the finishing ribbon is broken, although naturally each does it coming from a different perspective. The same zest, the same passion, identical know-how, yet two completely different phenomena – we paid even more attention to this in 2011 when both the composition and the upbringing of the two wines differed from each other.

At the time of blending, the team puts together the Cuvée 5 first – Krisztián, Ildikó, Laci and our estate manager, Péter Pohl. It’s an exciting time that’s full of emotion and considered thought, as by then we can feel how the varieties and the vineyards have performed in the given year.

When we decide about the composition and quantity of Cuvée 5, we continue with the same base wines, putting them towards the two Cuvée 7s. The character of the “sevens” is defined by two factors; the pronouncedly different Siklós and Villány terroirs, as well as the proportion of the grape varieties that produce the most beautiful wines in a given vineyard. First we just enjoy them and then we do everything to enable them to express themselves in the most beautiful manner in the final wines. The latter – the proportion of the varieties – we also shape purposefully. The Cuvée 11 is built for the long run, as well. We seek perfect balance, as much richness as possible in every vintage, and since 2011 we’ve been trying to distinguish 11 from the sevens in style and mood: the same care, the same yield control, but fewer new barrels and with a Kékfrankos backbone – these things give it its new, even fruitier, more dynamic face.

The basic wine is the 13; the lighter, entry level red, only made in the tank. This is the everyday wine. And the truth is that we have another blend without a number: it’s not a long distance runner, but a good sprinter, and that’s the rosé."

 

Tokaj

"A lot of people don’t know that our story originally started in Tokaj. The two estates had been two different worlds for a long time. Then we asked ourselves, time and again, that if the same team works in Villány and in Tokaj, if it’s the same brand, with the same care and idea behind the wines of both estates, then where’s the difference? The numbered cuvees of Villány found their Tokaj equivalent in a natural way, both in terms of philosophy and quality. What happened was that we added a hundred to the Villány numbers, and we didn’t even mind that the original concept of primary numbers doesn’t apply to 111: the Tokaj 111 has the place next to the Villány 11 in every element. 2011 brought such quality not only in Villány, but also in Tokaj, that we wished to reveal it with a more modest use of oak. That’s how the cuvées from local and international varieties were born – an idea that is still unique in the wine region, but has a prominent role in our thinking."