I was in Hungary on Monday tasting the outstanding Aszú wines of the 2016 harvest with László Mészáros. Tokaj at this time of the year can be either extremely cold, or enveloped in thick mist, or both. But just occasionally there are days of early winter brilliant sunshine that reveal the full splendour of this wonderful wine region, and Monday was one of those.
One of the main reasons for my visit was to visit the site of Hangács on the slopes above the main vineyard of Disznókő, which we are in the process of replanting. This is a very exciting project for us. Hangács has not been planted with vines since the 1960s, when it was abandoned by the then state farm which favoured plantings lower down the slopes, because easier to work with large tractors. But this hilltop site is unquestionably among the greatest terroirs in the whole of the Tokaj region, and was cultivated for many centuries before the 1960s. In the 16th century there are records showing that this particular vineyard belonged to the Balassi family, in particular to the poet and soldier Bálint Balassi.
László Mészáros, the talented director of Disznókő, clearly feeling rather good about the project, standing in the cleared hilltop site of Hangács, with the Mount of Tokaj and the Terézia chapel in the background.
The soil is clearly well drained, as it was quite dry, whereas most of the surrounding land further down the hill with heavier soil, was still heavy from recent rains. This close up shows the distinctive volcanic soil of the Hangács parcel.
We shall be planting 22 hectares in total here, mostly with Furmint. It is a substantial declaration of faith in the long term future of the great Aszú wines of Tokaj and a deeply satisfying project for us to be undertaking. Something which was dying and had been abandoned will live again and in years to come once again produce great wines, as it did for many centuries.
Over the years we have increasingly focussed on the individual characteristics of the various terroirs that exist within the great vineyard of Disznókő. The Kapi parcel, not too far from Hangács, has notably produced some of the more remarkable Aszú wines that we have produced at Disznókő. We have every reason to believe that in future years Hangács will be among the greatest of Disznókő’s terroirs, and it is thrilling for us to be setting in motion the process of replanting this parcel and bringing it back to life.
The afternoon finished with a glorious sunset over the Hungarian plain. This is a special place.
To know more in details about the replanting of Hangács vineyard, visit the website of Disznókő: http://disznoko.hu/disznoko-experience/replanting-hangacs-vineyard-the-next-big-project/