The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 32 of 124

TRAVELING A Product of Trust HUNGARIAN COOPERS PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN WINE QUALITY by Izzy Watson 32  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2017 Firing barrels at the Kalina Cooperage in Tokaj. The wood from native trees in Tokaj are ideal for barrel- making due to their wear- resistance and long-lasting tannic acid content. N ot so long ago, Hungarian Champion Sommelier Mátyás Szik was tasting a vintage Cabernet Franc from a renowned Villány winemaker when he discovered the wine from 2009 was much more appealing than the earlier or later vintages. Despite the producer's assurance they had used the same methods and worked exclusively with the same cooper and barrels they'd produced with for years, Szik noticed a significant difference in the character of aromas found in the aging barrels. It turned out the barrel in question had staves that had been heated in a different way, resulting in aromas that were better integrated—thus producing a more balanced wine. Hungary's native oak, as well as the barrels produced in the country, are known around the world. The barrels from the Zemplén region offer great value in quality and price, while the trees native to the Tokaj hills— specifically the oaks used for making barrels—have an exceptional reputation. The wood is medium-hard, wear-resistant, and has a long-lasting tannic acid content. After a lengthy selection process of sufficiently-matured trees, the staves are sawed or cut using the cleavage method. Following a certain aging period, these are heated over a fire before beginning their new life as a barrel. In most cases, the work of a cooper is a true family tradition imparted with knowledge passed down through generations. There are many smaller family businesses that manufacture barrels in the Tokaj region and most are happy to showcase their skills for an inquisitive public. They use modernized techniques still grounded in age-old tradition to produce barrels recognized by the wine industry worldwide. One of the most important factors in barrel-making is consistency: Each winemaker has a specific style and taste in which the barrels play a key role. If the characteristics of the barrels change over time, the taste of the wines is also affected, which can cause loyal wine lovers to lose confidence in the producer and their product. Larger companies like Kádár Hungary, Trust Hungary, or Európai Kádárok (European Coopers) are able to produce practically identical barrels year after year. The base of the Tokaj hills has beautiful natural features, and its world-famous winemaking traditions are linked organically to this ancient craft. It's truly a sector embodying the true meaning of "craftsmanship," as its reliance on human talent, experience, and even manual power delivers a higher-quality end result than automated processes. Hungary's coopers not only represent a trade that reflects and builds upon the past—be this in Tokaj or elsewhere in the country— but create true treasures everyone can enjoy, one sip at a time. For more information about Hungary, visit Hungary's native oak, as well as the barrels produced in the country, are known around the world." PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE HUNGARIAN TOURISM AGENCY

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - October 2017