After a long and thrilling history of wars, dynasties and changing fortunes, the parents of the present owners of the Zombory winery, fled to Argentina in the mid of the XX.th century, in their search for freedom when the communist terror invaded Hungary. Tamás returned to the motherland in 1996, and together with his brother István, who remained in Buenos Aires, where he is also involved in world class winemaking, they started their venture in the historic site of Tokaj in 2003, founding Zombory Pince, one of the most promising and exci- ting boutique wineries of Hungary.
The Zombory Pince vineyards are located on the sunny volcanic Tokaj-Hegyalja hillsides, along the Bodrog river, where the autumns are dry and long. The misty mountains, the dewy mornings and the luminous afternoons, generate the ideal conditions for botrytis cinerea to slowly cover the mature, sugar-filled grapes , causing dehydration and shrivel on the clusters, and concentrating the sugar in the berries. The action of this fungus or “noble rot” gives the Aszú its extraordinary bouquet which distinguishes it from the ‘late harvest’ or ‘icewine’, which are not “botrytized wines.
XIV, the famous “Sun King”, referred to Tokaj wines as the “Wine of Kings and King of Wines”. Even the Hungarian National Anthem glorifies the region when its words say “Tokaj has distilled the grapevine in its purest essence”.
The first documents that refer to Aszú go back to the XVI Century. In 1660 the wine making regulations were established and have changed very little since then. As of 1737 Tokaj is the world´s first closed “appellation d’origine”
No wine region in the world concentrates so much in so few hectares with such a rich variety of flavors and aromas. There is a wide range of styles from the dry Furmint; the delicate and aromatic Hárslevelü; the strong sherry style personality of the Fordítás; the Szamorodni, lineage wines in both varieties, dry and sweet; and finally the grand elixir called Eszencia.
Limited to only 6202 hectares, four kinds of grapevine cover the hillsides of the region: Furmint, an indigenous Hungarian vine, takes up 60%; Hárslevelü (Linden leaf) also indigenous to Hungary, occupies 25% of the vineyards, and two smaller varieties, the Muscat and the Zeta, absorb the rest of the hillsides. Only white vines are allowed to be planted in the region.
Fenyves utca 28 - 3908 Rátka - Hungary
“The King of Wines, Wine of Kings”. Harvested towards the end of October or beginning of November, the Aszú grapes, are stored in 500 liter bins in which they are soaked in base wine made from normal grapes not affected by the botrytis. The grapes are left to macerate for 48 hours before being pressed and vinified using the traditional oxidizing method characteristic of Tokaj since the XVII century. The fermentation is completed and the wine is then aged for at least two years, but eventually up to four, in oak casks kept in underground caverns under the hills, followed by a minimum of 12 months further maturation in 50 cl bottles. Great vintages, like 1999 or 2003 can be kept for decades.
Presented in its classic 50 cl bottles, these wines are classified according to its natural sugar content. Traditionally this rating was based on how many puttonys (wooden crates used at the harvest) of aszú berries were added to a hungarian barrel (136 lts) of base wine, but nowadays it follows a sugar level scale, where a 3 puttony aszú corresponds to 60 to 90 grams of sugar per liter, while the highest end, with 150 to 180 grams of sugar, is called 6 puttony aszú. Very rarely, a level above 180 grams is reached, in which case the wine name changes to “aszú eszencia”. Clearly, the sweeter the wine, the more exceptional and expensive.
Gold Medal at International Wine Challenge 2017: Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos, 2013
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