Strekov 1075

A brave new zero-sulfur world, hidden behind a socialist-era supermarket

Quick facts:

Location: the village of Strekov / Kürt, border of Slovakia and Hungary

Owner & winemaker: Zsolt Sütó

Vineyard area: 12ha (= 37 acres, including 12.3 acres on stakes), estate-owned

Vineyard management: Certified organic by Naturalis SK

Soil: Clay-loam on marine sediments, sandstone and limestone veins

Main varieties: Gruner Veltliner (locally called Veltlín), Welschriesling (Rizling vlašský), Blaufränkisch (Frankovka), St. Laurent (Vavrinec), local crosses Dunaj, Alibernet, Devín

Winemaking: Open vats and old oak barrels of various sizes, bottle-fermented sparkling wines. No fining or filtration, no sulfur added

Annual production (approx.): 30,000 bottles

 

Fun facts:

  • The name of the winery is a reference to the first written traces of the village and also the Zsolt’s house number
  • The village of Strekov is a Slovak leader of organic viticulture, with more than 10% of the vineyard area certified
  • The vines enjoy a unique microclimate of the nearby marshlands & Danube River
  • Before turning to wine, Zsolt was in the pumpkin seed business – and he still makes & sells a tasty oil made from them

 

Jump to wines | Strekov1075 Website

 

“When there’s an article on our winery in the Slovak media, they call me a Slovak winemaker; when it’s in the Hungarian media, I’m a Hungarian prodigy,” Zsolt Sütó (or Zsolti, as his friends call him) laughs at his double nature of making wine in a village located in Slovakia while being a member of its traditionally Hungarian majority. Hungarians still make up about 90% of the population of the village, whose past dates back to the year 1075 at least. (Hence the number in the winery’s name; by serendipity, it’s also the street number of Zsolti’s winery, a picturesque white house with sun-laden terrace sheltered from the main road by a socialist-era grocery store.) Due to its eventful past, this border region and its ubiquitous bilingual signs are still a sensitive reminder of a once vast Hungarian empire that was significantly reduced in size after WWI.

Yet, standing on the small plateau that separates the upper and lower part of the Údolie Márie (Slovak for “Maria Valley”) vineyard, with wild Blaufrankisch vines on stakes above and some Welschriesling below, you’re more likely to experience an intense sensation of calm and joy. Maybe it comes from the gentle slopes running towards the marshlands and the Danube River on the horizon, both contributing to the unique microclimate of the area. Maybe it’s the unobscured vistas formed by this soothing, horizontally-oriented land. Or the afternoon sun, which leisurely sets around us, bringing us joy as we soak in its long, large rays. Their caresses are also very beneficial to the vines, which – thanks to this extended sunlight –  have built up a resistance to the extreme heat that sometimes hits this area.

It really is a special place, and it’s no wonder that Zsolti has installed a couple of benches and a sturdy table there, creating one of the most charming tasting rooms we know of, indoors or out. No matter how seductive the Strekov 1075 wines generally are themselves, this spot always adds a bonus to their rustic appearance and bold flavors, which often surprise you with their unexpected turns – at times vivacious and playful, at others deep and meditative. 

It’s no surprise that we tend to see wine as a projection of the winemaker himself: Zsolti sports a sturdy constitution and his energetic, honest hug may leave the more fragile among us breathless. Yet, if you’re lucky enough to spend some time with him, you might end up nose-deep in inspiring discussions that run late into the night in the spacious, rustic wooden attic above his zero-additions cellar. The winemaking down there is minimal: whites often undergo skin contact, some of them are then aged under a yeasty veil called flor (similar to Jura or Jerez). Zsolti also often blends different vintages, both in his still and sparkling wines; the latter are made as pet-nats or as non-vintage blends with added must, depending on the vintage. After using less and less sulfur for a couple of years, he stopped adding it altogether in 2017, giving his wines total freedom.

Back in the tasting room above, you’ll probably talk about the open mind needed to taste these unconventional wines. About the leap of faith that it takes to make them, especially completely without sulfur. Or about having the audacity to face the eventual flops of using this approach. “I had a barrel that was borderline flawed, I felt it coming. I also knew that a tiny bit of SO2 would spare me the risk; but if I added it, I’d never know the eventual outcome – maybe the wine would manage to take care of itself. In the end, I think this search for truth is my ultimate fuel. No matter how unflattering or potentially painful, I think we should always seek the truth and face it.”

Get in the mood thanks to this immersive profile by the Terroir Squad:

 

 Wines


Nigori — Back to the top2014_Nigori

Nigori tech sheet

Vineyard: young vines on clay loam

Grape: Rizling vlassky (Welschriesling)

Cellar: After the bunches were de-stemmed and pressed, the juice was transferred to 300-liter oak barrels, where it aged on the lees for 2 years. Bottled unfiltered, with fine lees, no SO2 added.

Personality: Nigori means cloudy in Japanese and that’s exactly what you get here – a hazy, layered treat with almost umami-like flavors.


Nigori Rosé — Back to the topnigori_rose_2015

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Grape: Svätovavrinecké ( St.Laurent )

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and left in whole bunches. The bunches are pressed and the juice ferments in a 220-liter open-topped barrel for about 2 months. The wine is aged only in bottle, unfined and unfiltered, on the sediment with zero addition of sulfur.


Vavrinec — Back to the top2014_Vavrinec_04_clear.cdr

Vavrinec tech sheet

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Grape: Svätovavrinecké ( St.Laurent )

Cellar: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The juice is fermented in 500-liter open tubs for about 3 weeks. The wine is aged in 220-liter barrels for about 10 months, with the last 4 of those months taking place under a voile of yeast that forms. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a small addition of sulfur.


Veltlín — Back to the top 

Veltlin tech sheet

Total Production: 800 bottles

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Varieties: Gruner Veltliner

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The juice is fermented in 3-year-old 225-liter barrels with no added sulfur. The wine is topped off, but then ages under flor for 2 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered. 


Portugal — Back to the top

Portugal tech sheet

Total Production: 1400 bottles

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Varieties: Blauer Portugieser

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The juice is fermented in open casks for about 15 days, punched down by hand. The wine is aged in 220-liter barrels for about 3 months. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered under crown cap, with zero addition of sulfur.


Porta #4 — Back to the top

Porta #4 tech sheet

Total Production: 900 bottles

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Varieties: Gruner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Devín (a cross of Gewurtztraminer and Roter Veltliner produced for use in Slovakia), Aurelieus (a cross of Neuburger and Riesling produced for use in the Czech Republic)

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. A blend of different wines from different vintages, each treated as was best for it: the Gruner spends 6 months under flor, the Welschriesling and Devín spend 5 months on lees. The Aurelius had some botrytis and spent one month macerating on the skins. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered, with a small addition of sulfur.


Heion — Back to the top

Heion tech sheet

Total Production: 800 bottles

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Varieties: Welschriesling

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand harvested and destemmed. The juice is fermented in open casks in contact with the skins for about 2 weeks, punched down by hand. The wine is aged in 500-liter barrels for about 9 months on the sediment, untopped allowing for a veil of yeast (flor) to develop. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered under crown cap, with zero addition of sulfur.

Personality: Heion means calm or peace in Japanese; however, this wine will probably make your heart beat faster at first. But, eventually, you’ll follow it into a zen-meditation-like state where you can carefully scrutinize and enjoy all of its flavor layers, from the tasty fruit and spicy aromas to its umami backbone and oxy notes. A treat.


Rozália — Back to the top

Rozalia tech sheet

Total Production: 500 bottles

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Yields: 20 hl/ha

Grape: Svatovavrinecké (St. Laurent), Alibernet

Cellar:: The St Laurent grapes are hand-harvested then direct press from whole clusters into 225-liter 20-year-old barrels. The wine ferments for about 40 days without temperature control. When it is fermented dry, unfermented Alibernet juice is added to provide the sugar for the bottle fermentation and the wine is moved into bottles under crown cap to finish as a pet-nat. Undisorged, zero additions.

Personality: Tasty and wild! Full of ripe red berries, with a wonderful tang and unleashed fizz. Here’s a cool trick to tame it btw.


Don Zsolt — Back to the top

When Zsolt tried to make Riesling in the past, it would always end up with some residual sugar. So starting in 2013, he decided to bottle the wine as a pet-nat. He figures probably something similar happened to Dom Perignon, thus the tongue-in-cheek name Don Zsolt.

Age of Vines: 10 years

Soil: Clay Loam

Varieties: Riesling

Vinification Method: The grapes are hand-harvested then destemmed. The wine ferments for about 40 days without temperature control in stainless steel tanks. Just before it finishes fermentation, it is moved into bottles under crown cap to finish as a pet-nat. Undisorged, zero additions.


Fred — Back to the top

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam, Loess

Grape: Alibernet (a cross between Alicante Henri Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon), Dunaj (cross of Blauer Potugieser and Sankt Laurent), Portugieser

Cellar: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. A non-vintage blend of wines fermented in open casks and then aged in old oak for various amounts of time. Once blended, it’s bottled unfined, and unfiltered under crown cap, with zero addition of sulfur.

Personality: funky, earthy, incredibly congenial. As Zsolti says, the F in the name stands for “friendly, fresh, but also fucking good red” and he’s 100% correct on all accounts.


Viola — Back to the top

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam, Loess

Grape: St. Laurent, Blauer Portugieser

Cellar: the grapes are hand-harvested and foot-stomped as whole bunches, then aged in neutral oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with zero addition of sulfur.

Personality: Oh, this is chuggable! No serious lengths, no structured tannins, hi-ABV, or over-the-top body. Just loads of Amarena cherries, violets (nomen omen) and bright, juicy acidity. We’re sold.


Rizling — Back to the top

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam, Loess

Yields: 50 hl/ha

Varieties: Welschriesling

Cellar: Grapes are hand-harvested with a small amount of botrytis on the grapes and destemmed. The juice is fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels, for about 8 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, with zero addition of sulfur.

Personality: funky and flamboyant.


Frankovka — Back to the top

Age of Vines: 6 years

Soil: Clay Loam, Loess

Varieties: Frankovka (Blaufrankisch)

Vinification Method: Grapes are hand-harvested and partially destemmed, leaving some as whole bunches. The wine is fermented on the skins, with as much intracellular fermentation as possible for about 2 weeks in open-topped vats. The wine is moved to barrels for 8 months of aging and then is bottled unfined and unfiltered, with zero sulfur added.

Personality: a must for all you lovers of this wonderful Central-European grape out there. Wonderful structure, soft tannins, peppery notes for days.

Highlights – aka come for the wine, stay for: