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 Château 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,Château 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,Château 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 Aszú 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 (Château Pajzos uses the Dry Furmint they produce), then mixed with Aszú 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 Château 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 Azsú berries mixed with 100 liters of base wine to reach 1 Puttonyos. At 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.