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Tokaj - Hétszölö
by
Kathy Sullivan

Tokaj-HétszölöSummary: Hétszölö is a large Hungarian winery with vineyards and a cellar that date back centuries. Visitors to the Hétszölö vineyards are welcome to walk through the vineyards to enjoy the views and fresh air. The winery focuses on producing wines with the Furmint grape variety and also during good years crafting the highly rated Eszencia special wine.

After seeing a large Hollywood sign in the midst of a large sloping vineyard announcing Tokaj - Hétszölö we arrived at the winery vineyards. The vineyards are located on the south-facing slope of Mount Tokaj. At the vineyards we met the American-born assistant winemaker, Kathryn Taronsohn. We quickly learned that Héts means seven and zölö is an old Hungarian word for vineyard.

History

More than 500 years ago the Hétszölö vineyard was separate vineyards that were owned by seven families. Eventually one person bought all the vineyards. In 2009 a Swiss investor bought the winery and owns the winery but not the vineyards. The vineyards are owned by the government and the winery has a 100 year lease for the vineyards.

Vineyards

Tokaj-HétszölöThe vineyards are farmed organically. The organic methods used in the vineyard include baking powder and orange oil rather than systemic chemicals. Other techniques include the use of compost and diverse cover crops to help manage soil conditions. Predatory insects help control harmful insects. No herbicides or artificial fertilizers are used in the vineyard.

Kathryn walked with us for quite a distance in the vineyards towards the large Hétszölö sign. It was interesting to discover that anyone is allowed to hike through the organic vineyards. Upon expressing surprise that people were allowed to trek through the organic vineyards, Kathryn responded with a smile that here in Hungary people will not leave behind soda cans.

As we walked along a cement pathway leading through the Hétszölö vineyards, we learned that Hétszölö has 55 hectares (136 acres) of vines of which 70% are planted with Furmint. They also grow Sárga Muskotály (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains) and Koverszolo (meaning fat grape.)

A large sign with a photo of the Furmint grape and a description of the grape was posted in the vineyard. Other interesting notes at the vineyard were the roses at the end of vineyard rows, birdhouses and other organic products. After our visit to the vineyards we traveled into the center of Tokaj village to the tasting room and cellars.

Hétszölö Cellars

Tokaj-HétszölöOn a wall outside of the Hétszölö tasting room in the small village of Tokaj, a UNESCO sign reveals the status of the Tokaj wine region. “The Tokaj Historic Wine Region Cultural Landscape. Considering, that it represents a distinct virtual tradition that has existed for at least a thousand years and which has survived intact up to the present and illustrates every facet of the production of the famous Tokaj wines was inscribed in 2002 on the World Heritage List….”

Tokaj-HétszölöClose to the UNESCO sign is the entrance to the Hétszölö tasting room and large, historic cellar. During our mid-March visit the village was peacefully quiet; however, we learned that during other times the village is very busy. Upon entering the Hétszólö facility, we were escorted to the historic Rákóczi cellar. The cellar was named for the renowned Rákóczi family who ruled Tokaj village in the 1600s. In Tokaj the cellar was also known aö the Palace. Several historical events took place in this large, dark medieval-styled cellar including a meeting in 1526 when King János Szapolyuai was crowned. Today the cellar is known as the largest Tokaj underground knight's hall. This is also the site of the discovery of grape seeds that date back to the 1600s.

While walking through the cellar caves, Kathryn remarked that she had discovered that the white mold turning black may have been used on wounds, that perhaps it was a type of early penicillin.

Wines

Tokaj-HétszölöAll of the wines produced at Hétszölö are from the estate vineyards. Three parts of the vineyard are known as dülö meaning single vineyard.

While visiting the tasting room and cellar in Tokaj we were offered the choice of tasting the wines in the cold centuries-old cellar or the brightly lit and warmer tasting room. Although the ambiance of the cellar would have been delightful, we felt that the cellar was a bit too dark and cold for adequate wine tasting and inspite of being a romantic setting, we went to the brightly lit tasting room on an upper floor.

We found it interesting that at Hetszölö, Furmint wines are tasted with a special wine glass created by Riedel specifically for Furmint wines (pictured left). Our wine tasting began with the 2017 Dry Furmint. The yellow colored wine offered notes of tropical fruit including papaya, melon and citrus. The finish was crisp.

The 2015 Dry Furmint Nagyszolo with 13% alcohol was a yellow color. The aroma reminded one of a floral bouquet. The taste was of daisies, citrus and some roses. The very crisp finish had a lip-smacking goodness.

Tokaj-HétszölöThe 2012 Tokaj Edes Szamorodni had a residual sugar of 124 g/L with 6.3 g/L acidity. The wine spent 2.5 years in oak. The wine had a floral bouquet aroma. The taste reminded one of peach jam, with some floral notes and honeysuckle.

The 2013 Tokaj Hetszölö- dülö 1er Cru Tokaj Aszú 6 Puttonyos had 196 g/L of residual sugar and an acidity of 7.9 g/L. The alcohol was 11.5% and the wine was produced with 100% Furmint. The aroma was of flowers. The taste was velvety with notes of honeysuckle, daisies and roses. The finish was crisp with acid kicking in and the wine became another lip-smacking good wine.

The 1999 Tokaji Eszencia was exquisite. The wine had 390 g/L of residual sugar and an acidity of 12.0 g/L. The alcohol was only 5.5%. The wine was a dark amber color. Floral notes were on the aroma. The mouthfeel was way beyond full - almost syrupy. The wine was very sweet but the acidity helps to moderate the sweetness. Drink this incredible wine very slowly as an aperitif or pouring it over ice cream or pancakes.

When planning a visit to the wine region of Tokaj, be sure to include a visit to the tasting room to discover the dry, Aszú and the Eszencia wines and the underground wine cellar where history took place. If you have the time take a leisurely stroll through the vineyards.

Tokaj-Hétszölö Tasting Room and Cellar
Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Endre út 19
Tokaj, Hungary

 

 

Article written April 2019.

 

 



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