Size of the Vineyards
115 hectares, all classified 'First Growth'.
Location of the Vineyards
The grapes are grown on various hillside vineyards, the majority of which rise steeply above the village of Tolcsva in the heart of the Tokaj-Hegyalja appellation. They have excellent South and South-West exposure, and are close enough to the River Bodrog to benefit from the particular climatic conditions that generate noble rot. All the Oremus vineyards are classified 'First Growth', according to the historic Szirmay classification of 1803.
The cellars themselves are found under the village Tolcsva, in a labyrinth of hand-hewn cellars dating back to the 12th century. They also have access to more of these underground cellars in the neighbouring village of Erdobenye.
The subsoil is a volcanic tufa, similar to that found in the best vineyards of the central Loire (Vouvray, Bonnezeaux, Quarts de Chaume, etc). Topsoil in most vineyards is a stony clay; The remaining 20% of vineyards are planted on loess soil.
The oremus vineyards are planted to 50% Furmint, 20% Harslevelu, 20% Zeta and 10% Sarga Muskotaly (Yellow Muscat)
Average age of the vines
The communist era vineyards were conceived and managed for quantity not quality, so Oremus have had to engage in a wholesale replanting operation since 1993. This is now approaching completion, and many of the newer vineyards are now reaching maturity (10 to 15 years age).
At the same time, some magnificient pre-phylloxera vines remain in production, a testimony to the former glories of the appellation.
Total: 375 000 bottles per year, of which:
80 000 bottles Aszu
65 000 bottles Late Harvest Furmint and Szamorodni
226 000 bottles Furmint and Harslevelu
Vinification and ageing
The 100% Furmint varietals are made in the international style, to showcase the exciting spicy character of this Hungarian grape variety. The Late Harvest Furmint is picked late, with 40 to 50% of the grapes having succumbed to noble rot (Aszu in Hungarian), giving concentrated sugars and a botrytis complexity. Fermentation lasts nearly a month, after which the wine is aged 6-8 months in cask.
Aszu wine production starts with specialised picking of individual botrytis-affected grapes. While the rest of the harvest is fermenting to dryness, these shrivelled grapes are pounded into a paste and stored in 20-25kg tubs, called Puttonyos (normally used for carrying grapes). The contents of these puttonyos are then mixed in with the base wine in fixed proportions ( 3 puttonyos per every 136 litre cask of base wine for Aszu 3 puttonyos, etc), and left to macerate 6 to 8 hours for extraction of sugar and flavour. After pressing, this sugar-rich mixture slowly continues fermentation, and subsequent long oxidative ageing in the cool, damp, mouldy cellars.
The very rare, but justifiably famous top-of-the-range Tokaji is pure Eszencia, a nectar fermented from the tiny quantities of free run juice that drain out of the puttonyos. The must has such high sugar levels that, even using special yeasts, fermentation progresses at a snail's pace.