The impact of Sauska on the Hungarian wine industry is still to be understood and if the new trend doesn’t take off in the next few years then perhaps it never will. For now the question is: can Sauska transfer their success formula to Tokaj? The control-freak attitude brought us the new world to Villány, but there’s no dessert wine in the new world (well, you know what I mean). Can over-engineering techniques work in the Aszú universe?
One thing is certain: Tokaj desperately needs professional wine marketing and even Sauska critics will have to admit that that cash could come from the devil itself, provided that it can help boost sales of a wine region hit by many factors, one of the most important being the world’s profound ignorance of fine dessert wines.
Let’s get first to a basic dry cuvée because I’m not sure yet if I’m ready to open my wallet for the pricy sweet delights.
Sauska Tokaj, 113 Cuvée, 2009
Pale lemon yellow hue with olive reflections, bright and clean. Very restrained and light on the nose with lemon zest and an acacia accent. To my surprise, the wine shows mineral on the palate supported by lively lemon and crab apple acidity and a good hint of salt. There are notes of apple and pear too to a lesser extent, over a tight and fairly long acid backbone. Light nose, middle-weight palate (in fact the palate is light too but richer and more complex). After not too long exposure to air the finish will be shorter and acidity fades.
Furmint is the backbone, Sauvignon Blanc marks its presence too but Chardonnay and especially Hárslevelű are dissolved in the blend. This is the entry-level dry cuvée of Sauska Tokaj, a decent effort that is nothing like the Sauska Villány white wines. But like most Sauska wines, this is a very approachable wine and an interesting blend.
Oremus has been one of my favourite Tokaj wineries not just because Oremus produced some of the best sweet and dry wines Tokaj has ever seen in absolute terms but they usually come up with some very affordable wines too representing excellent value for the money. That’s why I wasn’t repelled by the HUF 2000 price tag when I saw this young Szamorodni and I didn’t hesitate (and neither should you).
Although technically different, Szamorodni are as close as one can get to an Aszú without actually making an Aszú. In terms of complexity, sweetness and balance, well made Szamorodni can be a very good introduction to sweet Tokaj wines.
Oremus – Szamorodni, 2007
Bright, clean, medium-deep golden yellow. Elegantly styled bouquet of lemon zest and ripe tangerine. It also displays dried apricot , butter and a touch of fine tea aroma. On the palate it’s creamy, smooth and lightly rich in fruity flavours of apricot, lemon zest with a long lemon zest and later peach core bitterness finish.
Somehow Szamorodni are always recommended as an appetizer. This Szamorodni is more complex and balanced than many mid-level 3 Puttonyos Aszú and it makes quite a dessert.
In my eyes Dereszla created a school now repeated by many when they launched the Dorombor series by blending Furmint (still viewed by many as a varietal not to be bottled as a standalone dry wine) with something like Sárgamuskotály, or Furmint with Sárgyamuskotály and Hárselvelű as in case of Dry, to create a more (indeed, a very) approchable wine for everyday consumption which is light, very aromatic and affordable. I must admit I find these efforts pretty successful from consumer point of view.
In 2008 the Muscat – Furmint blend is 50% Furmint and 50% Muskotály and it’s marketed by Monarchia under their own brand.
Similarities with Dorombor are endless. It’s pale lemon with pale greenish reflections. Light nose with lime aroma that translates into Caipirinha on the palate with some residual sugar that is a good match with the rest of the elements, mainly citric, lime-ish acidity and lemon flavored substance supported by a hint of saltiness (quite unexpectedly, but very positively). Lots of elderberry too with gooseberry notes when warmer. Good apple-flavored finish.
It will be an instant success of pyjama parties but it’s also ideal for anyone looking for a good light wine to be enjoyed on your balcony at dusk.
Serve it well chilled!
Score: 5, 5+ points
Pale lemon color with greenish reflections. Pleasant fruity-floral nose with acacia dominance. Very citric palate with overflowing lemon scented acidity which doesn’t allow any of the wine’s merits come through and even turns a bit appalingly bitter at the end.
It’s so disappointing after the 2006 which was a great Furmint.
Price: HUF 2440
It’s strange how many winemakers employed full-time by major wineries are allowed (and have time to) take care of their own vinyards and cellar. Examples from Demeter to Szepsy (in alphabetic order) show that they often manage to do it pritty well evidently.
I was sold this wine when asking Mr. Szentesi to introduce me to some full-bodied white wine around HUF 2 000. This wasn’t his first choice (not even making it into the top 10 actually) and he hesitated about the price but I took it because I’ve never heared of this winery and it turns out there aren’t many good value wines in this range.
Bright golden yellow. Fairly complex nose with boiled vegetables and veggie stock and lot of Furmint grape aromas, with hints of honey and flower. And a mineral undertone. Very rustic.
I didn’t like the taste first, but I put it in the fridge for a while and the magic happened. The same rustic stlye dominates the palate with more salt and tons of rocks. Some residual sugar is counterbalanced by good acidity keeping the flow into a lengthy finish. Mouthfilling, very acidic with lot of stewed apple-faloured substance too. When it’s heated up a little it becomes harshly bitter which is slightly appalling. Chilled it’s very mineral with a lot of lemon. And more lemon.
This wine is very close to its peak, or at it. You’ll enjoy it very much if you pay attention to its temperature and it’s a rare bargain.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 2000 (this is how much I paid, but not sure about the actual price)
I chose this wine the same day with the Konyári Kékfrankos-Merlot 2000 cuvée and after an Australian shiraz for dessert.
Not being a Hárslevelő fan myself, I was surprised by how much I liked the bouquet of this wine. Coincidence of not, it has a clean lime-blossom-floral and tea character, fresh and relatively intense but elegant too, fruity and herbal notes mingled. Just like it’s clean, vibrant golden color it has a polished style on the palate too with a mouthfilling lime-blossom dominance. Good harmony with the nose, which later will be more fruity with mainly fresh plum and hints of quince and apple in the background.
Lovely wine from a not so lovely year.
Score: 6, 6+
Price: HUF 2 900