Tokaj teaches patience more than anything

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Krisztián Sauska: I’m sometimes surprised by the fact that we’ve been in Tokaj since 1999. This wine region teaches patience more than anything. It took quite some time for the estate structure of today to come together. Every single plot of land had its own significance, and if nothing else, served as a basis to swap for something else. The vineyard map of Hegyalja has been next to my bed for 15 years. When I can’t sleep at night, it helps me think; not only about viticulture but also regarding the whole thing. About barrels, tanks, vineyards. About the direction in which we are heading.

 

Gábor Rakaczki: We constantly seek the Furmint that suits us. For example, in 2009 we selected 50 small-bunch vines that yield flavoursome fruit and last year we took cuttings from them. 

From the very beginning of our time working together, I’ve agreed with Krisztián in that there is no such thing as more important and less important varieties. The cultivation of 20 hectares of Furmint in ten vineyards obviously requires more in terms of time but this kind of care is the same, as for example, in the case of Sauvignon Blanc: from the first pruning following the winter to the clean, precise harvesting through to the cellar work. Otherwise we have no chance of seeing their real faces, and then why are we doing it?

 

K. S.: For that moment when we stand next to the barrels and start tasting them, from one vineyard to the other. Each occasion is a veritable drama: one is beautiful, the other we don’t understand. The third was shining the last time, now it’s napping. The fourth used to have no character, now it’s lively and full.

 

G. R.: After a few months, the picture becomes clearer. It cannot be deciphered without the knowledge of the previous vintages and earlier experiences. For example, the struggles of the 2010 vintage played a great role in the birth of the estate Furmint. It showed the zest and fragile beauty of the Medve vineyard in Bodrogkeresztúr in a vintage when the plants could basically only count on themselves. Next to the big structure of the Szent Tamás vineyard and the voluptuous figure of the Birsalmás, it was exactly this kind of airiness that was needed. 

2011 delivered such quality that we saw a compelling reason to showcase a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc on their own in a small number of bottles because it was clear from the outset how these world varieties characteristically redefine the terroir.
This is possibly the most characteristic year for our new blends that are marked by primary numbers. Thanks to the vintage and the more restrained use of oak, they have become a lot more sophisticated, yet they are becoming more and more characteristic. They are wholeheartedly Tokaj versions based on the original concept of blending local and world varieties. This of course was not our invention. The cuvees of Livio Felluga or the dry wines of Alois Kracher were well-known and successful before our number series existed, even in our minds.

 

K. S.No matter how much these wines take us ahead on the road to recognition, there will always remain 2,000-3,000-bottles, which will show the unique expression of the given vintage. We’ll continue the thinking about the Tokaj varieties in the autumn with the 2011 Birsalmás Furmint and the Cuvée 105, a blend of Furmint, Hárslevelű and Sárgamuskotály.