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 ZoltánAszú 2010
Dessert Wine
Furmint; Hárslevelű;
210.7 g/l
10.47 g/l
A blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű from the Veres and Szerelmi vineyards. Amazing complexity and texture with notes of peach, citrus, honey, tobacco, tea. With only 9% alcohol content, the wine's balance is maintained with 10.5 grams of acid and 210 grams of natural residual sugar.

Demeter ZoltánFurmint Birtok 2016
White Wine
8.2 g/l
6.9 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 2017
Dessert Wine
133.4 g/l
7 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 ZoltánLate Harvest Eszter 2013
Dessert Wine
Furmint; Hárslevelű; Yellow Muscat;
206.7 g/l
8.1 g/l
In 2009 Zoltán’s daughter was born and he quickly named this wine after her. It will easily last until she’s old enough to drink it. “Főbor” is an old Hungarian word that means, “as it comes” meaning both botrytis and fresh grapes harvested and fermented together. Due to this style being a historical favorite in Poland, the Polish word “Szamorodni” eventually replaced it. This is an attempt to revive some largely forgotten history. Dark honey in color, burnt orange aromatics and a seemingly impossible balance of acidity and residual sugar. A dense and counter intuitively refreshing barrage of peaches, honey and roasted nuts.