Tokaji Aszú – 5 Puttonyos
70% Furmint and 30% Zeta. This 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. The weather improved dramatically by mid-May. Flowering was early in the first half of June in ideal conditions. 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 15 passes at an outstanding level of ripeness during sunny, hot and dry days and very cool nights. Pajzos’ Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2009 was aged for three years in 220 liter, Hungarian oak casks, of which 30% were new, followed by three more years in stainless steel tanks. It was then assembled, lightly filtered, and bottled in July 2013. The stunning residual sugar level of 195 grams per liter qualifies the wine to be classified at the 6 Puttonyos level, and it is balanced by 6 grams per liter of acidity. The 2009 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. 3,000 bottles made.
2006 vintage: 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 Château Pajzos Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2006 was awarded a Gold Medal by Decanter Magazine, 2014 World Wine Awards. This was a great vintage for both quality and quantity. 32,000 bottles produced.
About the Producer
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 12 wine lovers in the acquisition of Château Pajzos. Located in the heart of the Tokaji region on slopes surrounding the famous wine village of Sárospatak, the estate was long acknowledged for having one of the finest vineyards of the region. Its volcanic, rocky soils ensure that the native varieties - Furmint, Muscat, Hárslevelu and Zéta – are both rich in natural acidity and concentration and the location between the Bodrog and Tisza rivers makes it ideal for attaining noble rot, indispensable for producing the sweet Aszú wines.
Arcaute and Laborde's team carried out the first “private enterprise” harvest and vinification in 1991, thus launching the Renaissance of Tokaji. Today, the 100ha estate (55ha planted with vines) is under the sole ownership of the Laborde family, also the owners of Château Clinet in Pomerol. The estates are managed by Ronan Laborde and his winemaking team at Pajzos and Pomerol. In recent years, they optimized the vineyard's practice to enhance the development of botrytis, essential for Aszú wines. For example, they changed their pruning method to single guyot in order to reduce yields and advance ripening. Depending on the moisture content of the soil, the soil is either plowed or left un-tilled, and nets are placed over the botrytis affected grapes in the fall to prevent them from being eaten by animals.
For Tokaji Aszú wines, 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 botrytized -not just passerillé- 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 - it takes an experienced picker a full day to harvest that quantity. Château Pajzos only makes Tokaji Aszú wines in the best vintages. They are looking for freshness in their sweet wines, as opposed to other houses promoting a more oxidative style.