|In times past, Hungarian Tokajis were among the most highly prized wines in the world. Long before Sauternes, they graced the tables of European elites and connoisseurs. In our era, at the outset of the privatization of the Tokaji region in the summer of 1991, the late Jean-Michael Arcaute and Jean-Louis Laborde led a group of wine lovers in the acquisition of Chateau Pajzos, long acknowledged as one of the finest vineyards of the region. Its 70 hectares of volcanic, rocky soils ensure that the native varieties - Furmint, Muscat, Harslevelu and Zeta – are both rich in natural acidity and concentration. They team carried out the first “private enterprise” harvest and vinification in 1991, thus launching the Renaissance of Tokaji. Today, Chateau Pajzos is under the sole ownership of the Laborde family, also the owners of Chateau Clinet in Pomerol. The estates are managed by Ronan Laborde and his winemaking team at Pajzos and Pomerol.
Located in the heart of the Tokaji region on slopes surrounding the famous wine village of Sarospatak, Chateau Pajzos "represents one of the world's great terroirs for producing exceptional white wines". The property's volcanic soils, ideal altitude of 200 meters, and South/South-West orientation rate its vineyards amongst the finest in Tokaj. Also, the vineyards' location between the Bodrog and Tisza rivers make it ideal for attaining noble rot, indispensible for making the finest sweet Aszu wines.|
The Tokaji wines are a blend of mostly Furmint, Hárslevelu ("linden's leaf"), Muscat de Lunel and Zéta. A base dry white wine is first made (Chateau Pajzos uses the Dry Furmint they produce), then mixed with Aszu berries (botrytised, shriveled grapes that were originally picked from bunches into 20 liter wooden tubs called puttony). During harvest, it can take up to 30 passages in the vineyards to pick them at the perfect time, as Chateau Pajzos only selects fully botrytised -not just passerille- grapes. Traditionally, the concentration of the Tokaji was defined by the number of puttony added to the base. Nowadays, the "Puttonyos" is based on the content of residual sugar in the final wine. It takes about 44 pounds of Azsu berries mixed with 100 liters of base wine to reach 1 Puttonyos. At Chateau Pajzos, the Tokaji are aged a minimum of 2 years in Hungarian oak (less than 20% new) and one year in bottle before release. They are only made in the best vintages. They are looking for freshness in their sweet wines, as opposed to other houses promoting a more oxidative style.
|Chateau Pajzos Website|
The very ripe 2012 vintage was an excellent year for Chateau Pajzos dry Furmint. From the beginning, Pazjos winemaking stressed the importance of a great dry base-wine made from Furmint grapes for the production of the Aszu bottlings of the vintage. The volcanic, rocky soils ensure that the Furmint grapes are both rich in natural acidity and concentration. 2012 saw an early flowering in late May due to a hot Spring. The summer was extremely hot and dry with several days of 100 degree or more temperatures. The location of the Pajzos vineyard, however, protected the vineyard from the most extreme heat and preserved the balance of the grapes. The fruit was hand-harvested in mid-September , earlier than ever, in perfect health and with ample acidity. The grapes were quickly pressed in pneumatic presses, and fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks for one week. The Dry Furmint was bottled in late July 2013. The bright, fresh and zesty flavors range from grapefruit to apricot with notes of nuts, minerals, and spice. The Furmint has aspects that remind one of Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc, yet it is a unique wine. Its flavors are as appealing as they are original.
|H - Tokaji Late Harvest|
|Chateau Pajzos offers two, non-Aszu, single variety, wines. The Pajzos team has found that Harslevelu – one of the native varieties of the Tokaji region - is ideal when made as a Late Harvest wine, primarily due to its rich, full-bodied character, whereas Furmint excels as a dry and fruity white. The estate has 9 hectares of Harslevelu vines, 7 of which are more than 40 years old and formed part of the original, pre-privatization Pajzos vineyard. The “H” is made from overripe, raisined Harslevelu grapes picked mid-way through the harvest period at Pajzos. (The still riper fruit picked later is dedicated to the production of the Pajzos Aszu wines.) The Harslevelu late-harvest fruit is given a short maceration and is then gently pressed to extract the small quantity of juice in the grapes. The must ferments in stainless steel tanks for two weeks. The young wine is then racked and returned to stainless steel tanks for 8 months of aging at controlled, low temperature. It is racked off the solids two more times to ensure the freshness and purity of the fruit. The 2011 Chateau Pajzos “H” was bottled in June of 2012 with just over 100 grams per liter of residual sugar balanced by 5.7 grams per liter of acidity.|
2011 was an ideal year for making a vivid late harvest Harslevelu wine due to the exceptionally dry conditions of the vintage. The complete lack of rain in the Tokaji region from August through October blocked the developed of botrytis and concentrated the juice while keeping acidity levels high. The Pajzos team picked their Harslevelu grapes for the “H” under sunny and dry conditions between October 18-25. (Humid conditions were to return in late October and into November, encouraging the development of botrytis for the Aszu wines of the year.) The 2011 Chateau Pazjos “H” is an intensely expressive, moderately sweet wine with bright and pure aromas and flavors of apricot, white-peach, lime and spice. They are balanced and lifted by vivid fruity acidity, the signature of the Pajzos terroir.
|Tokaji Aszu - 3 Puttonyos|
|The Pajzos 2010 Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos is exceptionally rich and full flavored for an Aszu wine at its level. The 2010 growing season began late due to cool and rainy weather. The climate from April through September was unusually wet: over 50 inches of rain were measured. The Pajzos team increased the frequency of plowing between the vineyard rows to help drainage and water absorption and intensive canopy work to encourage ripening. Fortunately, dry and sunny weather arrived in late September and lasted through November. The heat concentrated the sugars while also reducing the quantity of juice in the grapes. 2010 was a year of historically low yields at Pajzos. Maturity arrived late, and the excellent botrytis-effected grapes for the Aszu were picked in November. The Aszu 3 Puttonyos 2010 was made from 50% Furmint, 30% Harslevelu, and 10% each Muscat and Zeta grapes. It was aged for three years in three year-old casks and was bottled in February 2014. The residual sugar and acidity levels are 90 and 5.22 grams per liter, respectively. The Pajzos 2010 Aszu 3 Puttonyos has a medium bodied texture, a very fragrant bouquet, and fresh and pure flavors of apricot, fig, citrus, and spice that are unique to great Tokaji Aszu wines. |
|Tokaji Aszu - 5 Puttonyos|
|60% Furmint, 10% Muscat, and 30% Harslevelu.|
The classic 2006 Aszu 5 Puttonyos is a worthy successor to the great 5 Puttonyos wines from the 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2005 vintages. The growing season began 2 weeks later than usual after a hard winter and a cold spring. Snow fell into March. Flowering was late, but the weather began to improve in mid-June. From then through harvest, the climate was very hot and dry, with the exception of occasional beneficial rains and cooler temperatures in early August. These conditions brought the grapes to optimal maturity with exceptional concentration and very high sugar levels. The significant day-night temperature differences in October and November, together with the moisture from the morning dew on the sugar-rich grapes, enabled the development of botrytis. These were ideal circumstances for the production of Aszu wines.
The crop was ample in size and in perfect condition at harvest time, both for the dry, base-wine and the Aszu. The grapes for the Aszu wines were hand-picked in October and November in several passes at an outstanding level of ripeness during sunny, hot and dry days and very cool nights. Pajzos’ Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2006 was aged for three years in 220 liter, Hungarian oak casks, of which 30% were new, followed by three more year in stainless steel tanks. It was then assembled, lightly filtered, and bottled in November 2012. The stunning residual sugar level of 156 grams per liter qualifies the wine to be classified at a higher level, and it is balanced by more than 7 grams per liter of acidity. The 2006 vintage’s ideal combination of great ripeness and vibrant acidity is the epitome of the Pajzos house style, and is considered an ideal vintage by the estate. The Chateau Pajzos Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2006 was awarded a Gold Medal by Decanter Magazine, 2014 World Wine Awards.
|Made from the free run juice of Aszu berries. Only 2000 bottles are produced in a good year (from 70 hectares of vineyards). The wine has 650 grams of RS but over 11 to 12 grams of acidity. It can take from 2 to 4 years to ferment, using indigenous yeasts that only grow in underground cellars. 4% Alcohol.|
The historic Pajzos 1993 Esszencia, has been internationally acclaimed. In the USA, the Wine Spectator awarded it 99 points and wrote glowingly that the Ch. Pajzos Esszencia is “one of the world’s finest dessert wines…. A collector’s item to drink in small portions, by itself, to celebrate life.” Recently, on his website, Robert Parker described the Pajzos Esszencia as “virtually perfect” and ranked it “99+”.
From Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine: “The most luxurious Tokay of all is made only from the juice that aszú berries naturally exude as they are waiting to be crushed. This Essencia is up to 60% sugar and will hardly ferment at all. Of all the essences of the grape it is the most velvety, oily, peach-like and penetrating. Its fragrance lingers in the mouth like incense. No age is too great for it. What it is like at 200 years (some of the great Polish cellars kept it that long) only the Tsars can tell.”
|From 100% Muscat Petit Grains, this unctuous wine is made with the same complex method as the Aszu wines - but it is not aged in oak. The late-harvest grapes for the blend are affected by the dual phenomena of botrytis and passerillage, which further concentrates the natural sugars. The Muskotaly is at the sweetness level of an Aszu-Esszencia, 192g/l of residual sugar, with 12 grams of acidity. This unique wine sees an early bottling to preserve the vivid, perfumed muscat fruit. |
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