Website: Bodrog Borműhely Winery
Country Location: Hungary
By maintaining tiny parcels of vineyards in historically great sites, Hajdú János & Farkas Krisztián are making pure, modern, yet classically inspired dry wines.
The appellation. In North-Eastern Hungary, Tokaji - Hegyalja warranted the world’s first appellation system over 100 years before Bordeaux. For nearly 400 years, it has served as a diplomatic tool to court foreign powers, inspired countless artists and philosophers, and has become so ingrained in Hungarian identity that it’s part of their National Anthem. One of the key features of life and history in the region is the Bodrog River. It runs from the village of Sárospatak in the north east all to the way down to Tokaj Hill in the south. The name “Bodrog” dates back to the first Magyar conquest and the very first kings of Hungary. It’s also responsible for the moisture that along with a unique confluence of grapes and terroir, makes Botrytis so prevalent.
Today, only 20+ years after the reestablishment of private and family wineries Hungary is in the midst of a wine renaissance. Bodrog Borműhely, or “Bodrog wine(bor) workshop” started by János Hajduz and Krisztián Farkas is emblematic of this new era. By maintaining tiny parcels of vineyards in historically great sites, they are making pure, modern, yet classically inspired dry wines. Knowing when to pick and where, avoiding Botrytis, and then fermenting with native yeasts in local oak barrel are the means to this end.
In the vineyards. On the west side of Tokaj Hill near the village of Tarcal lies the historic Deák Vineyard, classified as a 1st Class site in 1798. The soil is thick with loess, rich in minerals, and with a solid bedrock of dacite. Most of the Furmint is located on a steep slope about 100-150 m above sea level.
The Dereszla vineyard has a Southwest exposure about 120-150 meters above the village of Bodrogkeresztúr and the Bodrog River. Its climate is temperate and very breezy. The soil is loess (3-5 meters) that the rhyolitic volcanic debris and richly grained perlite. The base rock is andesite. János and Krisztián work a small 0.65 hectare area planted in the early 1980’s with about 70% planted to Hárslevelű and the rest Furmint.
The Lapis Vineyard is near the town of Bodrogkeresztúr and looks down onto the Bodrog River and its floodplains. Despite being near to all of this moisture, Botrytis only hits certain parts of the vineyard. The 0.7 ha that they farm is 155m up and in a breezy spot making dry wines possible. The soil is a mixture of rhyolite with strong brown clay soil and tufa. If there were to be reclassification of the Tokaji vineyards, this would be a strong contender for a Great Growth.
The Halas (Fish) vineyard is just southwest of Lapis near the town of Bodrogkisfalud. The vineyard is covered with a think layer of Nyirok - a rich reddish clay unique to Tokaji over a base of hardened rhyolite (volcanic) rock. The microclimate is relatively warm compared to other parts of the appellation, but the vines are 40-50 years old and well adjusted. In addition to Furmint, there is also a small plot of Pinot Noir, which will soon be ready to make wine for the very first time.
In the cellar. All wines are hand picked and sorted in the vineyard and then again in the winery. After settling for at least a day after crush, wines are barreled down into local Szerednye Oak Barrels (3-4 years old) and left to ferment on their own yeasts. After regular batonnage, full malolactic fermentation and 9 months of aging sur lie, all wines are gently filtered and sulfured before bottling.