DANCH & GRANGER SELECTIONS
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

Sziegl, Hajós-Baja, Hungary

Winery map

At a Glance

2012
http://www.hajosi-pincefalu.hu/sziegl-pince
Hajós-Baja
Continental
Sand, hard packed loess and clay
75–120m
Gentle slopes and low hills
Kadarka, Kékfrankos, Zweigelt, Kövidinka, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Olaszrizling, Rajnai Rizling, Traminer, and Hárslevelű
5 hectares
Sustainable
Natural
Balázs Sziegl
Balázs Sziegl showing old vines growing on sandy soil

The People

About 3 hours south and just east of the Danube River is the village Hajós. More importantly, about 3 km outside of town is the Hajósi Pincefalu (the cellar village of Hajós). With deep Swabian roots dating back to the 1700s, there are over 1200 cellars dug into the hillsides. Driving through the Pincefalu is like a cellar theme park with sandy vineyards on top and narrow streets and cellar doors below. While this area was of course dealt the typical Hungarian historical blow after the world wars and Communism, the older sandy vineyards were left alone due to the risk of heavy Soviet tractors collapsing the vast cellar system. Here we meet Petra and Balázs Sziegl. Balázs studied viticulture and wrote a thesis on Kadarka. He is focused on the vineyards, a ton of clonal research, and preserving the older vines. Petra studied winemaking and is principally in the cellar. A young couple, new baby, and juggling a winery just founded in 2012, brand new plantings of 5, and farming a total of around 5 hectares entirely themselves. On our last visit we shared a proper Bajai Halászlé (Fisherman’s soup) made with only 5 ingredients: water, paprika, onions, fish, and pasta. It’s one of those dishes that is super unique, delicious and highlighted how versatile, vibrant and equally honest these wines are.


Vineyard
Sandy vineyard

Vineyards

The sand is almost ubiquitous here, and there are many forested areas buffering in all directions. Increasing and maintaining vine density is also key. Training ranges from goblet, to head to cordon depending on the location, clone and age of the vines. There are old fruit trees in the middle of the vineyards and often other crops nearby as well. They till when needed, but otherwise prefer to have the cover crops manage vigor. The Herreberg vineyard is 15 ha total, and Sziegl has around 3.5 ha. Their plantings here are mostly Kadarka (5 clones plus old vine material), Kékfrankos, Zweigelt and Kövidinka. Where the sand is particularly thick, they plant cover crops, otherwise they mow the natural growth. This vineyard was once noted as a “grand cru” by the top families in the region. The Hársfás-út vineyard is near Érsekhalma (15 min drive from Hajós) with a deep layer of hard packed loess and clay. It’s a rare anomaly amongst all of the sand. Roughly 4 hectares of Cserszegi Fűszeres, Olaszrizling, Rajnai Rizling, Traminer, and Hárslevelű were planted here in 1981.


Soup
Fisherman soup at Sziegl

Winemaking

With a traditional cellar it follows that the winemaking follow suite. Grapes are hand harvested, reds are often destemmed, whites are often whole cluster and let to soak at uncontrolled temperatures as long as possible, and everything ferments with native yeasts. Most everything continues fermenting and aging in 500ml Hungarian oak. Almost all wines are unfiltered, unfined, and the only addition is a little SO2 at bottling.




 
SzieglBábel 2020
Red Wine , Organic
Kékfrankos; Kadarka;
13.3%
1.1 g/l
6 g/l
2 grape varieties, 5 different harvest passes and 5 different processing methods. This is essentially a “Siller,” which is in between a light red and a rosé. More tannins than a whole cluster press, way more acidity due to the earlier picks, and more aromatics as well. Everything is layered and ferments spontaneously together in tank. After fermentation, the wine was on fine lees for 6 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with a small amount of sulfites added at bottling. It’s got just over 1 g/l RS, acid a plenty, a little texture, and of course a dose of spice. This is what Petra would start you with when you visit the winery.
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SzieglCarbonic Kövidinka 2020
White Wine , Organic
Kövidinka;
11%
0.8 g/l
5 g/l
Despite Kövidinka being a historically important grape in the region, there was barely any to be found nor many examples of anyone taking it seriously in Hajós (Hi-yosh). In 2017 they purchased a small parcel nonetheless. Not knowing where to begin, they've tried whole bunch pressing, skin maceration, and varying degrees of the hamburger method. They loved the skin contact (we still have a little of the 2018 skin contact), and there will eventually be some 2020 but it’s still coming around in the cellar. The rest of the 2020 fruit was split into two pick dates and two different methods then blended together. The first harvest pass was fermented for 6 days using the Hamburger method and barreled down to 500L oak on the lees. The second pass was 12 days of carbonic maceration followed by 5 months of aging in tank on the lees. The blend was bottled unfiltered with a small (15ppm) addition of SO2.
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SzieglJónás 2020
White Wine , Organic
Olaszrizling; Hárslevelű; Riesling;
12%
0.8 g/l
4.8 g/l
The 2020 Jónás is their inaugural white village blend. A sibling to the red Bábel. The first layer is 55% whole cluster Olaszrizling from both the Herreberg and Hársfás-út vineyards fermented in tank. The next layer is 10% Rajani Rizling from the Csákányos fermented whole cluster and another 10% with 2 days skin contact in 500L oak. Next comes 20% Hárslevelű from the Herreberg vineyard fermented for 4 days in the Hamburger method (semi-carbonic). The final component is about 5% Tramini from Hársfás-út fermented in 500L oak. Everything is aged around 6 months and then blended. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with a small addition of SO2 (15ppm). Much like the Bábel, which is someplace in between a rosé and a light red, the Jónás is someplace in between a skin contact and full bodied/bright white.
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SzieglKadarka Herreberg 2019
Red Wine , Organic
Kadarka;
11.7%
1.2 g/l
6.3 g/l
Kadarka is what brought us to visit the Sziegl family in the first place. They have a .08 hectare plot of 100+ year old Kadarka (a few other grapes peppered in here and there) called the Kolostordomb. It’s one of those places where it immediately hits you that it’s special. The head trained vines in pure sand grow parallel to the tops of the cellar house roofs with cellars directly underfoot. Only 250-300 bottles are produced a year. You need to visit in order to drink them. This is the fruit that also inspired other plantings in the Herreberg and Csákányos vineyards which are in turn yielding delicious wines. Case in point is the 2019 Herreberg Kadarka. Sadly we are only getting a very small amount as a result of heavy frost losses, but more than worth the hassle of importing. Open vat fermented, a couple gentle punchdowns a day and then barreled down to 225L Hungarian oak. Aromatic, the pale red color belies the intensity of the fruit, and it’s yet another example of one of the most compelling red grapes from Central Europe.
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SzieglKövidinka 2018
White Wine , Organic
Kövidinka;
11%
1.4 g/l
5.8 g/l
Hand harvested on the 21st of October. The grapes after destemming had 7 days on skin maceration. After 7 days of fermentation, the wine fermented in 500 L oak barrel. Aged for 7 months on the lees. Unfiltered. Golden color, fresh citrus aromas on the nose, full-bodied with tannins on the palate, long aftertaste.
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SzieglOlaszrizling Birtokbor 2019
White Wine
Olaszrizling;
13%
0.9 g/l
5 g/l
The Sziegl family started in 2012 by bartering with some of the older vineyard owners to work the land in exchange for making them wine. They now live above the winery in the Pincefalú (cellar village) of Hajós-Baja. The village has Swabian winemaking roots back to the 1700s and is literally 24 streets of 1200 cellars flanked by vineyards. The ancient seabed soils (loess, clay, sand), biodiversity and organic farming along with multiple different clones brings salt to balance out the aromatics and thicker skins for texture and structure. A perfect table white for a paprika rich Halászlé (fisherman’s stew) and getting a sense for this place.
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SzieglOlaszrizling Hársfás-út 2019
White Wine
Olaszrizling;
13.7%
1 g/l
5.5 g/l
This is our second vintage of Olaszrizling from the Hársfás-­út vineyard. Only a 15 minute drive from Hajós heading toward the village of Érsekhalma, but the soil here is hard packed loess and clay which is a big departure from the sandy soils of the Herreberg or Kolostordomb vineyards. In addition to Olaszrizling, there’s some Cserszegi Fűszeres, Rajnai Rizling, Hárslevelű and Traminer as well. The cover crops are more like herb gardens and due to the earlier ripening and aromatic grapes, there’s a ton of animals ready to take their share too. Only a day or so on the skins in tank, it then spends 5 months in older 500L oak before being bottled unfiltered. Extremely paired down in terms of winemaking from the Jónás and Kövidinka, this is a “classic” look at Olaszrizling done exceptionally well.
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