Tokaj auction sneak preview: summary of my impressions & why it is worth attending on 27th April.
The 2012 Pannon Wine Challenge is over. Grand trophy winner is Oremus Tokaji Aszú 3 puttonyos 2006. There are also surprises, such as gold medals for a Syrah and a Juhfark from… Slovakia.
2011 edition of the Pannon Bormustra was meant to give a new lease of life to this respected Hungarian competition – and it did. The 48 winners confirm this.
Stéphanie Berecz of the Kikelet winery in Tokaj is one of my wine heroes. In a region where wines notoriously beat world records of concentration, her style is subtle and concentrated. Her patient work of a decade is being rewarded today with a precious accolade.
The fact that it took a young generation with little or no background in winemaking to produce some of the most breathtaking dry wines in Tokaj is a paradox that one day, I hope, will become the subject of a sociological and psychological study. But it’s another fact that the heroes of the 1990s focused on the sweet wines and haven’t really come to terms with making world-class dries. (The situation is vaguely similar to that of port and dry Douro wines in Portugal). Sure, there have been some successful bottlings such as Oremus’ Burgundian Mandolás or János Árvay’s turbocharged (and excessive) single-vineyard Furmints, but it was not the breakthrough Tokaj needed to establish itself firmly on the great dry white wine map of the world.
They all have a few points in common: they are small (‘boutique’ or ‘garage’ is a good descriptor here), own pockets of vines in Tokaj’s most prestigious vineyards (that were listed in 1700 in Europe’s earliest attempt at vineyard classification), make little or no sweet wine, and have an ambition of making Tokaj a great terroir white, rather than a FMCG marketable alternative to save the company cashflow. In 2006 the Artisans’ Society (TBT) was created: a list of classified crus was drawn, members meet, talk and taste together, agreeing on which submitted wines adhere to the strict criteria and the overall philosophy of the project. Those that pass the exam get the TBT logo. The system works a bit like the Grosses Gewächs one in Germany, and in due time will hopefully become the foundation for Tokaj’s official premiers and grands crus.