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 (photographed with Renée above in Lapis Vineyard) 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.
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.
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.
Only 5-6 hours of maceration, left overnight to settle out, then barreled down into used local Szerednye Oak barrels for 6 months. The 2017 is the current release as the bottle age is important before release. There’s a smidge of RS but it is balanced by ripping acidity and while the alcohol remains at a low 12.5%. Furmint from the Lapis is a creamy texture without being flabby, and is like honeyed stone fruit rolled in the spice trade.
Click here to learn more about Furmint grape variety.