A few weeks back we sent our Head Rascal to 67 Pall Mall for the long-awaited opportunity to give some of our very best wines the exposure they deserved.

Furmint February provided a spotlight on one of the most exciting and versatile wine grapes, indigenous to Tokaj, one of the most exciting wine regions in the world, and home to Gizella, one of our most exciting producers.

So needless to say, we were quite excited.

Selected in The Buyer magazine’s top ten wines on the day, our selection of Furmint and Furmint-based wines from Gizella winery have received great success commercially and otherwise in the past year. You may well have heard us gushing over them last year, when they scooped two awards at the Sommelier Wine Awards.

Tony Stones, our head rascal and judge at IWC for 6 years had this to say about them;

“The Gizella wines continually demonstrate fantastic winemaking ability and consistency. Their Furmints are beautifully balanced with amazing complexity and elegance. The first time I tasted their wines I was wowed and they just seem to get better and better each year”

This time around though, we thought we’d let Laszlo do most of the talking. So without further ado, here is our conversation with the man behind Gizella Pince Tokaj.

Bottle shot of Furmint

We went through gallons of Tokaj wine before we tried Gizella, which stood out so much from the rest. What is it about your winemaking process that makes your wines stand out from your neighbour’s?

Well, Gizella has been improving step by step as any others. Personally for me as a winemaker and managing owner it has been a very exciting ride. On one hand you learn the process of winemaking. On the other you become familiar with your terroir. It takes a lot of time to be able to realise what your potential is in Tokaj. It is one of the most complicated wine regions in the world. I have been pushing the envelope all the time.

Can you tell us anything that people in the UK might not know about the Furmint grape, what you like best about it and what makes it unique from others?

Furmint is a very tricky grape variety. A big advantage of Tokaj is that we have highly diversified volcanic soil. Furmint and volcanic soil work very well together. Either dry or sweet, Furmint reflects the terroir so effectively. Gizella Furmint and my single vineyard wines want to find a balance between terroir, fruits, and structure.

We saw in your harvest report late last year that 2018’s harvest was the earliest of all time in Tokai. How did this affect the vintage overall, and does this concern you?

Yes, it is scary if you think about it. Normally Furmint is ripening lately. 15 years ago we harvested for dry wines in October. It has dramatically changed. We must review our viticulture in order to meet the requirements. In 2018 vintage I found the balance by blending single vineyards into Gizella Furmint. Hárslevelű from Barát will be launched as well. In the middle of September when we finished picking dry I thought there is no chance for special sweet wines. I was wrong. Tokaj is magical. Although it was thick skin and low on acids the following 2 months the berries were able to be attacked by botrytis. They became very concentrated and tasty so I was able to make my traditional dessert wines, such as Szamorodni and Aszú. Actually – this is what makes winemaking so special in Tokaj.

Last question, some months ago you sent us a few remarkable little bottles of beer. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

We have started a collaboration with Monyo Brewery a few years ago. They first wanted to use barrels that were filled with sweet Szamorodni. The goal was to add its complex flavours to the beer by a barrel ageing. It was a good start. Now they buy the barrels for me to continue this journey. Additionally they also tried to use pressed grape of Hárslevelű and even Aszú berries. They are very successful and creative. I like to hang around with them, the whole atmosphere of brewing is so cool.

For a full list of our Gizella wines, you can browse our brochure here.

And before you go, be sure to check out Gizella’s Youtube channel to spice up your day.