Our grape varieties
Historically, several grape varieties used to be cultivated in the Tokaj wine region. As proven by contemporary findings, remains of the indigenous Vitis tokayensis grape were found in Erdőbénye, dating back to the Miocene age. Over the last 100 years, six varieties have been grown in the Tokaj wine region: Furmint, Hárslevelű, Sárgamuskotály, Zéta, Kabar and Kövérszőlő. The first three are considered principal varieties. Each variety has to satisfy different expectations: it should yield an excellent dry wine, base wine and late harvest wine, it should be highly susceptible to botrytisation, and it must also maintain a high but harmonious acidity.
Tokaj’s most important grape variety, Furmint is grown in approx. 65% of the wine region. Furmint is an exclusive grape of the Carpathian Basin, grown here for centuries (the first written mention of it was in the 17th century). It is a late ripening variety allowing the botrytis to form high amounts of aszú berries in the typically autumnal weather. Its relatively neutral flavour profile, high acidity, and high tannins make Furmint ideal for the whole range of dry and sweet wines in Tokaj.
Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France. This thin-skinned grape is a very temperamental variety, which has proved difficult to grow in certain climates and soils. There’s no other grape like Pinot Noir with its wonderfully heady fragrance and pure, sweet, red berry flavours of raspberry, mulberry, cherry and strawberry.
Pinot Noir has a long forgotten tradition in Tokaj Wine Region since red wines had been made here before the Phylloxera, as is documented in the Hungarian Register of Winemaking, written in 1884. When replantation started after the great loss of vines, a new law in 1905/1906 prohibited the planting of red varieties in order to maximise the production of sweet wines.
In Hungary Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains is called Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat, or Muscat de Lunel). It is planted on approx. the 10% of the vineyards of the wine region. This variety ripens earlier than Furmint and Hárslevelű, but it is also more susceptible to winter frost and rotting, therefore harvesting it late is highly risky. Sárgamuskotály makes floral, very aromatic, acidic wines.
Hárslevelű is the second most important variety grown in Tokaj (approx. 15%). Its name means “linden leaf”. This variety grows large, loose clusters with their long branches often divided. Its berries are smaller than those of Furmint and have thick skins, making this variety less susceptible to botrytis. It ripens relatively late in the autumn, it has quite high acidity, and an aromatic character with linden flower honey or elderflower aromas.