Szepsy Pince

Wine and Spirits

Szepsy

ISTVÁN SZEPSY IS ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED winemakers in Tokaj, a man who produced wine throughout the Communist era both in a cooperative and in his own artisan winery. He was a founding member of Royal Tokaji (also honored as a Top 100 Winery this year), and went on to launch Királyudvar with Anthony Hwang of the Loire’ Domaine Huet.

It was at Királyudvar where he and winemaker Zoltán Demeter began an ambitious experiment with dry furmint. At the time, the local dry wines were considered merely byproduct, what you did with what didn’t go to Tokaji Aszú. The wines were high in alcohol and rough in texture, and tended to oxidize quickly – a factor Szepsy and Demeter eventually figured out was due to the botrytis that made its way into the mix.

Now farming his own vineyards with an eye toward making dry wines, picking early and culling obsessively, Szepsy has proven that dry Furmint is worth making in its own right. His 2008 from the revered Szent Tamás vineyard has the noblesse of a grand old Burgundy while it’s distinctly furmint, smoky and peppery with limey edge. The acidity reaches through layers of stony flavor, firming the wine while keeping it agile and lively. It’s a wine that will age well over the next decade, although it would be delicious now with roast sweetbreads and bacon too.

Szepsy remains dedicated to the traditional sweet wines of the region as well, and is one of the few to stand by the szamorodni style. Meaning “as it comes“ in Polish, szamorodni wines are made with a combination of botrytized and non-botrytized grapes. His 2008 is hugely complex, and as rich in flavor as its dark golden hue predicts. Honeycomb, candied orange and sweet spice aromas suggest a sweet wine but furmint’s fierce acidity ripples through it, a warm fire of spice and gingerbread notes that leaves a dry impression. Think of a dry German Auslese Riesling and you’ll have an idea of the balance – as well as what to pair with. Like the Szent Tamás Furmint, it’s a tour de force, and a window into a less explored side of Tokaj. – T.Q. T.

TOP-SCORING WINES

96

08 Tokaji Szent Tamás Furmint $110 (6/13)

95

08 Tokaji Szamorodni $100 (6/13)

92

08 Tokaji Furmint $40 (6/13)

 

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