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
  • Zsolti is an ever-curious soil, getting involved in new projects – check out also Šroner-Sütó, a joint venture of delicious biodynamic wines made by Zsolt and his friend Peter Šroner!

 

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 a 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, and 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

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 top 

Winemaker’s note: “The St.Laurent variety has Pinot Noir in its pedigree and is very sensitive to the weather. It is an early-ripening variety with thin skin and compact bunches; all these factors have an impact on the health of the grapes. Each year at the end of August, it becomes clear if the vintage is a “Rozália” or a “Vavrinec vintage”, based on the readiness of the grapes for further maturation: healthy grapes allow us to keep them on vines for longer and use them for this earthy, elegant red.”

Grape: Svätovavrinecké aka Vavrinec aka Saint Laurent

Vineyard: Vád, certified organic and farmed by Zsolti himself. Head-trained, planted in 2011. Clay-loam topsoil with a high level of calcium on marine sediments. 

Making of: the grapes were handpicked. Fermented for a few weeks, no added selected yeasts or other additives, no temperature control. The free-run juice spent 10 months in old 500 l oak barrels. Bottled by gravity without fining, filtration or SO2 the following summer. Only 1200 bottles made.

Personality: showing full beauty of the variety – its elegant acidity, fruitiness and light earthy taste.


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

 

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 — Back to the top

A non-vintage cuvée of skin-fermented white wines that were aged under flor, always with typical savory nutty notes.

Vineyard: Blend of different plots, all organic certified and farmed by Zsolt himself. The soil consists of clay-loam with a high amount of calcium on marine sediments subsoil.

Grapes: the current #7 is a blend of Aurelius (a Czech cross of Neuburger and Riesling) 2019, Devín(a Slovak cross of Gewurtztraminer and Roter Veltliner) 2020 and 2021 and Welschriesling 2019

Making of: all grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. A blend of different wines from different vintages, each treated as was best for it, with different maceration times. Aged in old oak barrels, usually untopped and with developed flor, until they’re blended together and bottled. (January 2022 for the current #7 iteration.) The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered, no sulfur added.

Personality: as Zsolti says, fly through the time to your grandparents ́ barn (Porta) and dust off the values of your ancestors… Orange wine whose complexity comes from the diverse characters of the different vintages used. Wine dedicated to moments of meditation and well-being.” So opening a bottle of Porta an act self-care, basically! 


Heion — Back to the top

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

The name of this wine refers not only to its irresitible dark pink color, but also to many women in the winemaker’s family – his mother and grandmother as well as Zsolti’s wife’s mother and grandmother were all called Rozália!

Grape: Svatovavrinecké (St. Laurent), Alibernet

Vineyard: Vád, certified organic and farmed by Zsolti himself. Head-trained, planted in 2010. Clay-loam topsoil with a high level of calcium on marine sediments. 

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and then direct-pressed into stainless steel tanks, where the wine ferments for about a month without temperature control or any additives 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 herbal tang and unleashed fizz. Here’s a 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.

Grape: Riesling

Vineyard: Badala, organic certified and farmed by Zsolt himself. Planted in 2007. Clay-loam with a high amount of calcium, marine sediments subsoil

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and then destemmed. The wine ferments for about 14 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. “Dirty” disgorged in February of the following year, zero additions.

Personality: yeasty, salty, feisty – a super drinkable, lip-smackingly fresh pet-nat as energetic as its color suggests.


Fred — Back to the top

Zsolti’s uber-popular everyday red wine, a non-vintage blend of varieties typical for his area. Also available in 375ml bottles (“Little Fred”) and magnums (“Big Fred”)

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

Vineyards: Clay Loam, Loess. Blend of different plots, all farmed organically by Zsolti himself.

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 yet with fresh fruit, incredibly congenial. As Zsolti says, the F in the name stands for “friendly, fresh, but also f* 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

Grapes: Frankovka (Blaufrankisch)

Vineyard: Mária Valley, organic-certified and farmed by Zsolt himself. Planted in 2009. The soil consists of clay-loam with a high amount of calcium on marine sediments subsoil.

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and fermented as whole bunches in open-topped vats, zero additions. The wine is moved to old oak barrels for 10 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 and earthy notes for days mingling with nice fruit.

 


Bob — Back to the top

Zsolti’s primeur-style wine, named after his donkey and just as full of life and joy!

Grapes: Modrý Portugal (Blauer Portugieser / Kékoportó)

Vineyard: Vád, certified organic and farmed by Zsolti himself. Head-trained, planted in 2012. Clay-loam topsoil with a high level of calcium on marine sediments. 

Making of: the grapes were handpicked, destemmed but not crushed. Fermented for 14 days in open casks with gentle stirring by hand, no added selected yeasts or other additives, no temperature control. The free-run juice spent ~1 month in a stainless steel tank, without any mechanical interventions. Bottled by gravity at the beginning of November, under crown caps to enjoy the fruitiness. No fining, filtration or SO2 added.

Personality: juicy, smooth, lightly fizzy – very youthful, easy-drinking material that’s best chilled and shared with friends.


Frankie — Back to the top

An atypical red-white blend of old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon, Frankovka and Gruner Veltliner “which comes
from Strekov and goes to Hollywood,” like the famous 1980s pop group. Only ~800 bottles made.

Grapes: Frankovka (Blaufränkisch aka Frankie), Cabernet Sauvignon, Veltlín

Vineyard: blend of Zsolti’s vineyards including an old plot of Cabernet, all certified organic. Clay-loam topsoil with a high level of calcium on marine sediments. 

Making of: the varieties were vinified separately, in a similar way: handpicked between September and October, destemmed but not crushed. Fermented for a few weeks in open casks with gentle stirring by hand, no added selected yeasts or other additives, no temperature control. The free-run juice spent 10 months in old 220-liter oak barrels. Blended and rested for a month together. Bottled by gravity without fining, filtration or SO2 the following summer.

Personality: perky red mingling the Blaufrankisch / Cab dark fruit, earthy tangy notes and velvet tannins with refreshing acidity and smooth feel of the Gruner addition. A masterful easy-drinking blend by the one and only Zsolt…


Creme — Back to the top

A non-vintage sparkling wine whose bubbles come from secondary fermentation in bottles (hence the name, referring to both crémant and the creaminess of this wine’s bubbles), using a fresh must from the new vintage. It can be made with different white grapes, according to what’s best adapted to this style from the given vintage. Zsolti usually makes around 1000 bottles of this cuvée only and it drinks extremely well, so if you spot it somewhere, we recommend you to grab it ASAP .)

Grape: the current #6 is Welschriesling and Devín (previous releases were 100% Devín, a local cross of Gewurztraminer)

Vineyard: Vád, certified organic and farmed by Zsolti himself. Head-trained, planted in 2011. Clay-loam topsoil with a high level of calcium on marine sediments. 

Making of: the handpicked grapes ferment without added selected yeasts or other additives in 300l oak barrels, for about a year. The following harvest, the wine is fermented again with fresh must from the same vineyard, and bottled with lees by gravitation for the prise de mousse. Unfined, unfiltered, undisgorged and no SO2 added. (The current #6 is based on 2019 still wine Welschriesling, refermented by fresh 2020 must of Devín). 

Personality: The rich taste of Welschriesling supported by persistent fizz and yeasty creamy notes of the second fermentation in the bottle. An easy-drinking wine with a complex fruity aftertaste.

 


Highlights – aka come for the wine, stay for: