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Next Kapi out, new Egytőről Vintage Hits Wine Bars

Disznókő is the first big estate that you encounter on entering Hungary’s world-class Tokaj wine region. What a sight for dry eyes it is, providing a fine fix for wine lovers with its contiguous vineyards spreading out over the undulating slopes, behind the futuristic tractor shed and the Sárgaborház restaurant. The flatland opposite the estate is the start of the Great Plains.

The Disznókő estate in Tokaj, with its tractor shed at center.

Behind the Sárgaborház lies the Kapi vineyard, with its volcanic and light clay soil, where the grapes ripen early. It is from Kapi that Disznókő brings out a 6 puttonyos Aszú in the best vintages, with the newly released 2015 Kapi 6 puttonyos becoming just the fourth ever release (after 1999, 2005 and 2011).  

It is not only a single-vineyard aszú, quite rare in itself, but also a single-varietal wine of 100% Furmint. While Aszú is usually based on a backbone of Furmint, whose thin skins easily allow the noble rot in, it is typically fleshed out with lusciously fruity-floral touches by the likes of Hárslevelű and Sárgamuskotály (the same grape as French Muscat Blanc), and several others. However, in 2015 the botrytized Furmint was considered ripe, rich and aromatic enough to go it alone, with the warm vintage bringing an extra dimension.

The vegetative season in 2015 was hot and dry with heatwaves during summer, according to managing director László Mészáros, with blossoming starting already at the end of May, which in turn resulted in early ripening. The first wave of Aszú berries (the ones used for Kapi) were shriveled rather than botrytized (i.e. afflicted by noble rot) and were picked from September 21 to October 1.  

The individually picked aszú berries were poured into stainless steel vats and stored there until the vinification; the grapes for the base must picked later, in the first half of November. The Aszú berries were macerated uncrushed in actively fermenting must for two days. After a long pressing, the longer than usual fermentation took place in stainless steel vats and small barrels until the middle of December. The wine was aged in oak barrels of 225 liters for two years with 25% of new oak, and bottled in May 2018.  

Kapi 2015 has a purity about it, with tropical and citrusy aromas and flavors, with a super smooth finish, more airy and ethereal than most aszú. Just 4,974 individually numbered bottles have been made and it costs HUF 32,000 a bottle from various outlets including the winery itself, with a special offer running until May 31, whereby if you buy five, the sixth bottle is free.  

Mészáros described 2015 as an excellent year for botrytis. “The second part of the [Aszú] harvest [which lasted until November 12] was rainier, so the noble rot could develop very well. We were able to select intensely botrytized, perfectly balanced and aromatic Aszú berries,” he said. This led to Disznókő’s first ever 100% Hárslevelű Aszú; Tokaj’s second grape has thicker skins than Furmint, making it harder to get noble rot, but in 2015 botrytis was abundant.  

One of the new releases for Egytőről (a cooperation between a number of wine bars, winemakers, wine distributor Bortársaság and website Wine Flow, aiming to spread the message of good quality wine at nice price), also comes from Tokaj, from Gizella winery’s László Szilágyi.  

The Furmint (75%) and Hárslevelű (25%) blend, a dry white from 2018, comes from several vineyards: the Bomboly in Mád, the Kastély in Bodrogkeresztúr and the Tarcal trio of the Barát, Deák and Szil-völgy. The Hárslevelű from the Barát vineyard was the only component to be vinified in oak “to give texture”.  

Szilágyi worked with the team comprising representatives of the wine bars. He admitted to learning a big lesson from the cooperation and is now even considering making his Estate wine, which currently has 15% Hárslevelű in it, a full Furmint-Hárslevelű blend. The Egytőről wine is citrusy and floral with zesty acidity and a touch of oak.

Yet further evidence of the magical marriage between the two Tokaj grapes in dry wine was provided by Szilágyi and Gizella recently scooping a gold medal at the United Kingdom’s Sommelier Wine Awards for Szil-Völgy, Furmint/Hárslevelű 2017 (HUF 6,950 from Bortársaság).  

Disznókő also won gold for its delightful and delicious Late Harvest 2017 at the same awards. Tokaj maestro István Szepsy won a gold for his Édes (Sweet) Szamorodni 2013 (HUF 14,000), which is made using a different method to Aszú but like other great sweet wines of the world, whereby mixed bunches of both botrytized and regular “healthy” grapes are picked together and then fermented.

The other Hungarian winner at the Sommelier Wine Awards was a Bikavér 2016 blend from Eger’s János Bolyki; this wine is from the lighter Classic (not Superior) category but is striking for its freshness, purity of fruit and “moreish” drinkability. It is also cracking value at HUF 2,990 from Bortársaság.

The Egytőről red from 2018, a single-varietal Kékfrankos, comes from another exciting and dynamic Eger producer, Gergő Böjt. He described 2018 as a hot year in Eger but added that the local soils helped retain the acidity. Made entirely in the tank, this has delightful potpourri aromas, as many of the best Kékfrankos have, and oozes sour cherry, raspberry and strawberry on the fresh and vibrant palate.

The Egytőről wines will cost HUF 1,200 per 1.5 deciliter glass, and HUF 5,000 per bottle, from the participating wine bars: Doblo Wine & Bar; 0,75 bistró; Palack; Andante Borpatika; Tasting Table; and Cuvée Borszaküzlet és Borbár.  

The team has got it very right with these two wines, which will be launched on June 13 at a terrace party at 0,75 bistró.