Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Nobless oblige?

Bodrogkeresztur is a smallish village on the Bodrog in the heart of the lower (Tokaj) end of the Tokajheglya, and it's home to Tokaj Nobilis. Sarolta Bardos is from a family with a long history in the region, and for this we should be grateful. When her and her husband, Peter Molnar of Patricius, were looking to buy up vineyard land, it was the good name of her Grand Father that pursuaded people that they could sell to her. The upshot is that they now have land in two of the cru vineyards around Bodrogkisfalud, Barakonyi and Csirke-ma. From their holdings they vinify a range of wines, which keep getting better.

I've visited Nobilis twice now, once in 2009 and again this year (2010), both times it's been a pleasure, not least because there are usually one or two little girls either in someone's arm or peeking shyly round the corner of a wall.

Sarolta is a charming host, who evidently loves her vineyards, and is equally passionate about the wines she's making. This is very much her winery, Peter has more than enough to do with Patricius, and being the president of Tokaji Renaissance..

We arrived at the winery earlyish on the Sunday morning following the festivities of the previous nights harvest party, and for once I was extremely glad that I'd gone to bed on return to the house the previous evening. No one else in the house was going to be raised for several hours more and on their reappearance there were sunglasses all around (that's you Gergley and Rita x).
Sarolta then took us out to visit the Barakonyi vineyard, unfortunately the Csirke-ma hasn't coped with the inclement weather so well and won't be providing much quality fruit this year, a story I've heard repeated all over the place, the vineyards are, helpfully, located just about the Patricius holdings and aren't too far from their house.

On return we got stuck into tasting..

Stylistically, the wines tend to see quite a bit of oak, I found this a bit problematic when I tasted the 07's last year, and probably is why I didn't rave about them as much as I ought to have done. However I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted the Barakonyi Hars 08 (Harslevulu) at the Buda wine festival, it was showing lovely white flowers and nice minerally core of citrus fruit, while the oak was noticeable it was merely adding body, exactly how I like it. A tank sample of the Hars 09 was equally promising, prodigiously aromatic with very ripe fruit and some sweet apple like notes on the palette.

When I think of the dry Nobilis wines I tend to think of their Harslevulus, however this might be because good examples of the grape are slightly harder to come by than good dry Furmints, of which the 09 Barakonyi is an example. Sarolta has left 8g of residual sugar in the wine which isn't very noticeable balanced as it is by the high acidity of the Furmint grape. The 09 showed lots of peachy Furmint character, and was starting to integrate it's oak. It should be released sometime next year.

There are a couple of off dry wines, a Sarga Muscatoly (Muscat), which is at 14g residual sugar and is very perfumed with a lime and turkish delight palette and an off dry finish, and a Koverzolu (means fat grape) which again is light, off dry and quite pleasant.

However the serious wines return again when you start to taste the sweet wines. The late harvest Sarga Muskatoly which is made from shrivelled grapes from the Barakonyi vineyard shows all sorts of exotic rose, spice and perfume and is suitably sticky and unctuous on the palette.

Amicus 08 (120g residual) is 90% Furmint, 7% Koverzolo and 3% Hars and spends 6 months in new oak has bucket loads of acidity which conspires to keep the sugar in check, apricot and ripe pear characters abound on the palette and it has a great lengthy finish.

The 2002 6 Puttonyos clocks in at 160g residual sugar and similarly has a great freshness and intensity of fruit. These are sweet wines that are predicated on their intensity of fruit, they're very much of the new school where oxidative characters are nowhere to be found, unless they develop slowly with age. Rather like the Amicus, the 6 putt is very well balanced and has a great finish of apricot marmelade and a touch of the tokaji minerality.

I like Nobilis a lot, I think Sarolta is charm personified, and oddly I also relish seeing Peter slightly more relaxed, he's away from the official business that I usually meet him through, so instead of being the president of Tokaji Renaissance he can concentrate on keeping his youngest daughter occupied long enough for his wife to chat to us about the wines. A lovely family winery, that also seems to be on the up and hopefully will continue to improve.

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