Website: Tokaj Nobilis Winery
Country Location: Hungary
Born and raised in Tokaj, Sarolta embodies a strong maternal sensibility coupled with a keen sense of the changes and challenges facing probably the best known, but arguably most forgotten wine region in the world — Tokaj-Hegyalja.
The people. Born and raised in Tokaj, Sarolta possess a strong maternal sensibility and keen awareness of the changes and challenges facing Tokaj — one of the best known yet most forgotten wine regions in the world. Beginning her career studying at the University of Horticulture in Budapest, she also took advantage of the recently fallen Iron Curtain and spent time in France, Italy and Spain. Upon returning to Hungary, she worked at Gróf Degenfeld and soon after became the inaugural winemaker at Béres Winery in nearby Erdőbénye overseeing 45 ha of vineyards. Preferring closer attention to detail and the total knowledge inherent in small-scale winemaking, she left and planted her own 6 ha in 1999. In 2005 she converted a traditional 19th century house into a winery and cellar in the middle of the town of Bodrogkeresztúr. In addition to dry and off dry bottlings of Furmint, Hárslevelű, Kövérszőlő, and Sarga Muskotály, she is also making incredible late harvest and Tokaji Aszú 5 and 6 Puttonyos. All her wines embrace a myriad of volcanic soils with remarkable aromatics and balanced acidity.
In the vineyards. The town of Bodrogkisfalud is right along the banks of the Bodrog River just north of the town of Tokaj. Moving away from the river right up against Zemplen forest at around 250-280 m high is the Csirke-mál vineyard. The soil is a mixture of heavy clay with exposed volcanic tuffa and hardened black andesite. Given its distance from the river and the exposure to wind, botrytis is kept at bay making it ideal for dry wine production. The previous owners left it about 30 years ago and it lay largely fallow until Sarolta starting bringing it back to life in 2004. Today the vineyard consists of roughly 75% Furmint, 10% Kövérszőlő, and 15% Sarga Muskotály.
In the cellar. Grapes are hand harvested and sorted both in the vineyard and in the winery. All single vineyard wines are fermented with native yeasts in 220 liter Hungarian Zemplén Oak barrels and aged on the less a minimum of 8 months until bottling. Half the barrels are new while the rest are two to three years old. The overall approach is minimal intervention, avoiding botrytis in the vineyard, focusing on a healthy spontaneous fermentation, and letting the vintage decide the balance of sugar, acidity and fruit.