Website: Bott Winery
Country Location: Hungary
“When we succeed, it brings joy to others that is generously given back to us. Since wine forms the quality of our lives, we like living this way.” — Judit Bodó
The people. The wines of Tokaj are the product of over 1200 years of melting together different cultures, religions, and ethnicities over a truly unique combination of geology and climate. In a way, József and Judit Bodó, both originally from Csallóköz, an ethnic Hungarian region in Slovakia are perpetuating this tradition of cultural exchange.
Following her love for wine Judit went to work for a producer in South Tirol who later hired her onto a project in Tokaj managing the affairs of a small artisan winery: Füleky. Heeding the dream of his wife to have their own winery in Tokaj, József took on the labor of actually looking for vineyards. Upon discovering Csontos, Judit said, “he could not sleep at night.” After the birth of their son, they focused solely on their own family winery with József in the vineyards and Judit in the cellar. In 2005 they bottled wine from just 1 ha, the first vintage of “Bott,” an homage to Judit’s maiden name.
Today the couple tends about 5 ha spread among various sites mostly near the village of Erdőbénye. Wines are made exclusively from indigenous varieties. According to Judit, “When we succeed it brings joy to others that is generously given back to us. Since wine forms the quality of our lives, we like living this way.” There is a maternal touch to the wines she makes, to compare them to children, they are as disciplined as they are loved. Despite making very little wine, Judit and József have made Bott one of Tokaj’s most respected new producers, not just in Tokaj, but all of Hungary.
In the vineyards. Closer to Erdőbénye, the Határi vineyard is along the same slopes bordering the Zemplèn forest as the Csontos vineyards, but are instead more western than southern facing. With only 1.5 hectare currently cultivated, the soil is clayey and chock-full of broken up limestone, rhyolite-tufa, and obsidian. Tending to the 35 years-old vines by hand, the Furmint produces wonderfully full-bodied dry wines while the Hárslevelű takes on a special sweetness while remaining particularly mineral which makes it ideal as the base for their Aszú and late harvest wines.
In the cellar. As is common among some of the best vignerons in Tokaj, Judit and her family personally harvest the fruit ensuring the strictest of sorting. The newly built winery is still small and the equipment consists of relics like an antique wooden press and a medieval looking bladder press from the 60’s. Despite looking less than ideal Judit contends that this equipment forces her to be especially attentive, which ultimately benefits her wines. Wines are fermented slowly in mostly used 220 liter oak barrels with native yeast over a period of 6-8 weeks. This protracted fermentation enhances the elegance and texture of Bott wines. Wines remain in barrel between 7-10 months depending on the vineyard and vintage and are topped regularly. Depending on the vintage and character of a particular vineyard, wines may have residual sugar as Judit lets every barrel finish fermentation without intervention.
Considering they are relative new comers to the region and their minuscule production, the substantial acclaim the Bott wines have received both locally and internationally is remarkable. Judit Bott was recently featured in a New York Times article on Tokaj Hidden in Hungary,Treasures on the Vine.