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2021 – Can it be a great vintage like 1999?

The 2021 vintage promises to be excellent, despite the quantity being slightly less than desired. The sweet wines are reminiscent of the great classic Tokaji Aszú vintages.

The Weather During the Vintage

Cool spring, late bud break

The weather in the first half of 2021 was quite variable. It began with a mild and relatively rainy January, followed by a snowy February and a cold early spring. A sudden, almost summery warmth followed in March, and frosty weather ensued in early April. Due to cooler than usual weather, the grapevines budded much later than the average of recent years, at the end of April. However, the challenges did not end there, as the cold and rainy May weather caused vigorous weed growth in the vineyard and black rot on the leaves in some places.

Late flowering, warm June and July

Flowering at Disznókő

Flowering began relatively late, only on June 13. Fortunately, the sudden heat did not bring scorching temperatures. Still, the grapevines had good and rapid flowering, pollination, and shoot growth in June and July at the highest average temperature ever recorded. Although the heat was mitigated by a few rain showers, the warm and humid weather caused powdery mildew in several of our organically cultivated parcels.

Grape ripening in cool but dry weather

The Zéta grape variety began to ripen in early August, followed by Furmint ten days later. The end of summer was marked by cool, dry weather with significant daily temperature fluctuations, which slowed the grapes’ ripening and gave it a characteristic fresh acidity.

The cold and humid nights, foggy mornings, and colder, dry weather in September significantly favored the development of botrytis. The sunny and dry days induced rapid dehydration, thus starting the process of botrytisation.

From October, we enjoyed beautiful, sunny, and dry weather, which allowed us to harvest almost every day under ideal conditions until mid-November. New generations of botrytis appeared on the grapes, so it was possible to select the aszú grapes continuously.

All about the harvest

Aszú bunch waiting for harvest

By mid-September, delicious and vibrant aszú berries had formed in the early-ripening Zéta grape variety. We began selecting them between September 14-20.

The harvest for our dry white wines took place from September 21-23, starting with the west-facing Dorgó vineyard and the lower sections of Kapi before finishing in the old vineyards of Lajosok and the newly planted Hangács. The grapes were beautiful, delicious, and ripe, but surprisingly high in acidity. As botrytis had already appeared in many places, we picked only the nicely matured, non-botrytized bunches.

We started harvesting the Furmint aszú berries in mid-September in the Kapi vineyard, with seventy pickers selecting and collecting every day. The first Furmint aszú berries were small, moderately sweet, rich in acids, spicy, and had a clean taste. As there was not a significant amount of aszú berries in the Hárslevelű, we did not select any this year. As last year, we finished picking the first generation of aszú berries on October 8.

For the second selection, we picked aszú berries that were finely infused with botrytis, with a creamy texture, brown color, crunchy seeds, fresh acidity, and a clean and delicious flavor. We sifted through some vineyards for a third time before picking the whole bunches. We only harvested grapes on the vine in November, but they remained rich and of excellent quality. After 55 days of picking, we completed the grape harvest on November 26.

The characteristics of our 2021 vintage wines

Eszencia tasting at Disznókő

We pressed and fermented the yield of certain areas separately for our dry wines, mostly in tanks, with about a quarter in small and 500-liter barrels. This year, we also tried clay ceramic vessels for the first time. Fermentation was generally slow and took much longer than usual. Our dry wines from 2021 are straight, surprisingly high in acidity, yet ripe and full-bodied.

In late October, we tasted our aszú berries and essences to determine the blends and processing methods for our aszú wines. Due to the clear and intensely shriveled texture of the aszú berries, we mixed most of them into actively fermenting must without crushing, soaking them for two and a half days with several rounds of stirring. After soaking, the fermenting aszú wines are fermented in tanks and barrels, slowly and for a long time.

We have rich, fruity and aromatic Szamorodni and Late Harvest wines. The 2021 sweet wines, particularly the aszús, evoke the excellent, classic Tokaji aszú vintages. They are characterized by plenty of fruit, fresh and lively acidity, a long and precise structure, a spicy finish, and exceptional richness. Perhaps we have another vintage like 1999 in the making?