2020 Sziegl Pince, Jajós-Baja "Jónás"
2020 Sziegl Pince, Jajós-Baja "Jónás"

2020 Sziegl Pince, Jajós-Baja "Jónás"

Hajós-Baja, Hungary 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$38.00

2020 Sziegl Pince, Jajós-Baja "Jónás"

Sziegl Pince’s “Jónás” is a forceful reminder that there’s always something new to discover in wine. Hailing from an underexplored corner of Hungary, comprised of a mind-boggling amalgamation of varieties and vinification techniques, and produced on a minutely artisanal scale, this is as unique and personal a wine as you can find without crossing the Tisza river yourself. But mere novelty isn’t enough for us; no matter how good the story behind it, a wine has to be delicious, and “Jónás” delivers in spades. Vividly fresh yet amply textured, cut through with high-toned floral notes and electric minerality, it occupies an ambrosial halfway point between white and “orange” wine. Even as wine professionals with many decades of experience between us, it caught us off guard, and definitively drove home the lesson that we’ll never know all there is to the wine world. If you’re feeling like you’ve tasted it all, or if you’re just on an endless journey for the most singular experiences in wine, load up on “Jónás”!

Petra and Balász Sziegl are located in the appellation Hajós-Baja, a region of Hungary from which very few wines make it to the States. This whole corner of the country, far in the south near the border with Serbia, is honestly a black box for all but the most learned Hungary aficionados. Even for Hungarians, it’s not much thought of as a wine region: these former Danubian floodplains are more famous for paprika production than viticulture. Vineyards sit nestled amongst fruit trees and pepper plantings. But the winemaking heritage here runs deep, with wines from Hajós exported to the courts of Austria and Germany, of all places, in the 16th and 17th centuries. Now, Riesling, Welschriesling, and Gewürztraminer—all known by historical Hungarian names—are planted alongside local grapes like Kadarka and Kövidinka. Sandy soils predominate, but the Hársfás-út vineyard in which “Jónás” is grown is underlain with loess and clay, very rare for the region, and imbuing it with serious textural density.

The Sziegls live in the village of Hajós proper, a place that sounds more or less like a wine lover’s paradise. It’s a “cellar village,” meaning basically 24 streets along which every building was originally built as a small winery. There are 1,200 in all, though they’ve now been repurposed for other uses. Petra and Balász’s combination home-production facility now occupies three of the cellars. The two are a young, passionate couple who both hold degrees in viticulture and enology, but, despite coming from strong scientific backgrounds, they make wine guided more by intuition and an experimental streak. “Jónas” is the perfect example. It’s a crazy blend of 55% whole-cluster-fermented Olaszrizling, 20% Riesling with varying lengths of skin contact, 20% semi-carbonic Hárslevelű, and 5% direct-press Tramini (Gewürztraminer). Follow all that? It’s then aged for six months in a mix of old barrels and 500L casks, and bottle unfined and unfiltered with just a tiny dose of sulfur added at bottling. The resulting wine is vibrant, textural, and unlike anything we’ve ever had.

Sziegl Pince’s 2020 “Jónás” pours a deep straw with traces of amber. Serve cool, not cold, in an all-purpose stem and the nose is at once vivid and ruminative, a melange of creamy orchard fruit, barely ripe white peach, straw, honeysuckle, lemon zest, pulverized chalk, dried mint, faint rose petals, and warm spices. The texture is otherworldly, luscious and deep, thrumming with more golden-hued fruit and rocky minerality, before being wicked away by the striking acidity present in so many great Hungarian whites. There’s the faintest hint of tannin too, not providing any real grip per se, but just a little frame for the resonant flavors to work in. It occupies some liminal space between full-bodied white and orange, between poised and polished and rustic and soulful. In short, it’s a mind bending marvel, easily one of the most unique wines we’ve ever offered here, and a must-have for your cellar!

2020 Sziegl Pince, Jajós-Baja "Jónás"

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