Harvest report in Tokaj, Hungary: Interview with Samuel Tinon

Tinon in van
Samuel Tinon in his van with the harvested grapes

This year, we decided to interview a few of our winemakers to get their impressions of the 2017 harvest and the overall 2017 vintage.

We first reached out to Samuel Tinon on September 17th, just as some rain began to fall. Fortunately, the sparkling base wines and Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat) had already been picked and most of his Furmint was still in early ripening.

Tinon Hatari harvest
Harvest in the Határi vineyard

According to Samuel, “In Tokaj we can have up to 10 book chapters in a 2-month period. In these conditions, it is far too early to talk about vintage. Anything can happen. In a written book, from the first chapter you can get a idea of the book, with Nature not.”

Hatari clusters
clusters of grapes from the Határi vineyard

By September 21st, the weather had changed. Completely botrytis-free harvest had moved into botytris, or what Samuel would call “Tokaj premier grand cru only.” Sugar levels still good, acid starting to drop, but Aszú berries beginning to take shape. By September 25th, roughly 40 L/m2 of rain had fallen so it was time to harvest all the remaining botrytis-free grapes.

Tinon rainfall
Measuring the rainfall

All in all, and like all quality wine regions the world over, it’s impossible to have a recipe or a crystal ball. Best to end with Samuel’s words:

“Even after having done 27 vintages here, for me every vintage took a different road. We know since flower time that we deal with an early ripening vintage, with good maturity and some fair amount of sugar in the grapes. Probably because I pay more attention now to botrytis-free production, I can see some huge difference between vineyards, bringing the vintage chart pretty hard to draw…So, let’s just do some decent wine, dry or sweet, with or without botrytis, but all very Tokaj!”

Tinon family
The Tinon family