Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe

Demeter Zoltán, Tokaj, Hungary

Website: http://www.demeterzoltan.hu/

Zoltán Demeter can be credited, if not for introducing quality dry wine to Tokaj, then certainly perfecting it.

Demeter Zoltán
Demeter Zoltán

The people

Zoltán’s one-man cellar rests inside a historic house built in 1790 just a few blocks from where the Bodrog and Tisza Rivers meet in the town of Tokaj. He’s fully committed to his own race against time to rediscover the terroir of Tokaj as well as the firm belief that Tokaj is one of the most important wine cultures in the world. After working abroad in Napa (Stags Leap), Beaune to study viticulture and enology, as well as larger estates in Tokaj, he has arguably the most experience making dry Tokaj wines in Hungary next to Isvtán Szepsy, whom together are responsible for the success of the Királyudvar brand.

As of 2008 Zoltán now focuses entirely on his own 9 single vineyards spread over 7 hectares: Szerelmi vineyard in Tokaj, Veres and Becsek vineyards in Mád, Holdvölgy and Újhegy vineyards in Rátka and the Kakas and Lapis vineyards in Bodrogkeresztúr. A champion of the of the present and future of the region he is working to see that the laws governing the production of the wine respect tradition and the good taste of those who consume Tokaji. His selection of dry, Főbor (Original Hungarian word for Szamorodni), and Aszú are broadly considered benchmarks. They clearly reflect the complex geology of their site, the character of their varieties and Zoltán’s intensive cerebral nature. Multifaceted, crystalline, and enduring. According to Zoltán, “Wine is not the sound it is the instrument.”

Demeter Zoltán
Demeter Zoltán looking at the Tokaj vineyard map


All of the single vineyards are 40 years and older and classified as Frist Growths. Eszter is sourced from 30-60 year old vineyards in both Bodrog-keresztúr and Mád villages just north and northwest of Mt Tokaj. Soils range from Loess to heavy clay to stony volcanic. Pesticides are not used, no fertilizer, some still plowed by horse, and sulfur only when absolutely needed is sprayed by hand. Zoltán spends an inordinate amount of time in the vineyards and is one part student while admitting to a certain amount of magic that’s unique to Tokaj.

Demeter Zoltán in cellar
Demeter Zoltán in the cellar


The entire winery is designed to be run by one man. Every hose, tool, pump, valve, and drain has an exact place and purpose. It’s also part gallery with a road kill snake fashioned into a “DZ” in a frame, glassware hung in the shape of cross beneath a Crucifix, and a baby grand piano rescued from the trash suspended by wires hangs directly over the only coach. Concerning the actual winemaking, almost everything ferments in steel tank, ambient yeasts are preferred but commercial yeasts are employed when needed to get the wine fully dry. All aging takes place in old oak barrels. Some Furmint also ferments and ages in oak.

suspended grand piano
Suspended grand piano
Demeter ZoltánŐsz-hegy Sárgamuskotály 2017
White Wine
Yellow Muscat;
3.9 g/l
6.2 g/l
The 30+ year-old Ősz-hegy Dűlő in the village of Mád has been classified as a 2nd class site since 1798. Literally the “grey hill,” it is in the northernmost part of Mád and dominated by volcanic andesite and forest soils. Sárgamuskotály, aka Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains/yellow muscat, ripened before the onset of botrytis and retained an enormous amount of acidity. The aromatics are certainly muscat, but more in wild flowers and melon than formulated perfume. There’s a ton of structure, a little RS that’s nearly impossible to detect, and the acid that’s often missing from the variety.

Demeter ZoltánFurmint Birtok 2018
White Wine
4.3 g/l
5.8 g/l
A blend of Hold-völgy, Veres and Boda vineyards. A very clean wine, fresh and floral, with aromas of fresh apple, notes of ripe fruits and crunchy acids on the palate. Long finish.

Demeter ZoltánHárslevelű Szerelmi 2016
White Wine
9.2 g/l
6.7 g/l
Szerelmi is predominately loess soil with 65 year old vines on the southern side of Tokaj Hill. It was first mentioned in 1798 as a 1st Class Vineyard and roughly translates to “lovely.” Although Hárslevelű is often used as a blending agent or a fresh base wine for Tokaj Aszú, when it is planted in the right place and cropped back (Demeter makes a remarkable Verjus), it is every bit as powerful and reflective of site as Furmint. Aromatic, stony, and showing all of the structure you’d expect from 15% alcohol with absolutely none of the heat.

Demeter ZoltánLate Harvest Birtok 2018
Dessert Wine
140 g/l
5.3 g/l
This is a landmark wine for Demeter Zoltán: fantastic aromas, ripe fruits, great acidity, and long finish with lots of sweet fruits, apricots, pineapple, citrus, and hints of honey.

Demeter ZoltánSzamorodni 2016
Dessert Wine
191.8 g/l
10.85 g/l
This 100% Furmint is from the Veres (red) vineyard in Mád known for its reddish hue coupled with rhyolitic volcanic tufa and tons of zeolite. Back in 1746, this vineyard was rented to the Russian Imperial Court. It’s also typically one of Zoltán’s favorite dry Furmint sites because it can carry residual sugar and acidity so well. When botrytis hits, this balance is amplified. With 9.5% alcohol and 192 g/l of residual sugar, it tastes like you’re refreshing the palate before getting into the sweet wines. The acidity here is astounding without being overpowering which makes it both pungent and elegant.