The new single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Ottó Légli

“As my father says: some people write dramas, others do reviews” 

We went to the János-hegy vineyard in Szőlőskislak for Ottó Légli’s new Sauvignon Blanc but the hill was so beautiful, we didn’t even want to come back.

About the vineyard…


“It really is beautiful but as the saying goes: what is beautiful in Somogy? Well, the view of the Zala side (the opposite side as far as Almádi once belonged to Somogy County). Apart from the view, the undulating hillside packed with vineyards is an exciting experience by itself. Before the wars, peasants lived by themselves on the hill, the village was practically out here. They were free and self-sufficient: cows, fruit, vines, wine, a bit of forest. Then when the cooperatives started, the decay in living standards set in here. People slowly started choosing village life. During the 80s, so called ‘special-group’ vineyards were planted on the steep slopes and about two dozen farms remained. There have been no roads or electricity ever since. As we see it, the disadvantage turned into a benefit as the hill wasn’t ruined by the sight of ugly holiday homes.”

Ottó and his brother, Géza, who is also a winemaker, are trying to renovate a few farm houses. In the garden of one of these recovered farm houses stands the statue of the eponymous Saint John of Nepomuk from the 1800s, which was erected by the locals of the hill in his honour about 200 years ago. “By now, it has become monocultural: the grapes reign with a few fruit trees of cherry, walnut and pear. The estate concentration started on the hill as well: 20 years ago there were about 70 to 75 farmers, today there are only 10-15. Almost 50% of the nearly 40-hectare area is owned by the Légli family. Apart from myself, Géza, and even Attila, have vineyards here.” The third Légli sibling is not a winemaker but a ceramicist in the village. We recently mentioned his name in connection with some amphora-made Olaszrizlings, as the maker of the amphorae.


and about the wine…


“I’ve been dealing with Sauvignon Blanc from the beginning, starting with my very first own plantation in 1989. I went against my father* a bit then, as he found it to be a tricky, low-yielding variety. After that, we got to know each other. I’ve always been excited by the spiciness and the delicious acidity of the variety. I really started using oak for the variety in 2000, although we made Sauvignons in oak in 1995 and 1996. Now, as I look back, there were a fair few negative comments, using barrels was considered a dead-end street even by some colleagues, but as my father says: ‘There are people who write dramas, others do reviews.’ We have 4 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, in three blocks on the hill, and we planted them in 2002. This single vineyard wine of mine can also be called aromatic, because the base aroma is important, although this wine is more complex than that. Its aromas are not elderflower but rather blackcurrant and it’s vibrant. It has a spicy, flavoursome palate, too. But I think the market still judges Sauvignons one-sidedly, based on first impressions and very often an opinion is formed based solely on the nose. Of course it’s an aromatic variety, but it’s not the nose that primarily interests me, which in fact depends on the vineyard work. In 2016, on one part of the vineyard, we left the crop out on 2 hectares, the summer heat does good to this compact but thin-skinned variety. Although the summer was rainy in 2016, the nice warm autumn saved the vintage… We’ve been thinking a lot about what it should be like and where we should go from here. We are getting inspired, checking out the wines of the world. The southern part of Styria (Südsteiermark), especially Lackner Tinnacher’s winery –

my wife Bogi’s big favourite – is a good example, because there are similarities both in the soil and in the climate.”


*Ottó Légli Snr was a viticulturist and branch manager of Boglári Gazdaság