Tamás Kis is the owner and winemaker at Somlói Vándor, a small natural estate on the tiny volcanic butte of Somló in Western Hungary. Although the youngest winemaker working with Palinkerie, he is devoted to cultivating first-class wines on Somló’s unique soils. We asked him a few questions about himself and his winemaking ethos – check out the full interview below!
How would you introduce yourself to a stranger?
I am a first generation winemaker in Somló, and a big fan of the hill.
What was your first life-changing wine experience?
St. Andrea’s Merengő (Egri Bikavér Superior) 2003.
How did you get into winemaking?
I used to be on the consumer side, as my father works in the gastronomy sector. Lots of wine tastings and excursions to the wine regions made my life more colorful.
What is your favorite plot of land?
My favorite plot contains three small terraces of Juhfark vineyards, on the top of the Somlói hill.
What wine do you normally drink?
Mainly white wines from Somló, Tokaj and Eger. But if I get bored with them, then Kékfrankos.
Which wine of yours are you the most proud of?
I’m the most proud of the Cuvee 2011. This was my very first wine!
What was the biggest challenge in your career so far?
The year that we moved to the hill (2014) was quite challenging. That was when we decided to focus exclusively on winemaking and put all of our energy into it, but the vintage was not too gracious – it was extremely hard to make wine that year.
What do you expect from the vintage of 2017?
2017 has brought us two beautiful plots of Furmint and Juhfark. I cannot wait to taste them. I expect vitality and concentration in the wines.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in exporting Hungarian wine?
I have realized that we really need to introduce it at a basic level. Knowledge about Hungary and about Hungarian wine abroad is quite minimal.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Somló is a cult-like place. I hope that in 10 years it will be a central destination for wine lovers all over the world as well as for wine professionals, and I that will be one of their targets.
Why did you choose Somló, as your workplace and as your home?
My heart has been in Somló since 2013. The wines, the location, the magic of the hill: I felt this is where I belong, and that I need to come here!
What does your typical day in Somló look like?
I head to the vineyards in the morning, discuss the day’s tasks with my employees, and then I do tasks in the vineyard or in the cellar. Füge (Fig), my dachshund, comes with me and usually digs around in the vineyard. When the sun goes down I have to do office work, which I really hate, but fortunately the view from the hill makes me calm. On weekends I receive guests and do wine tastings.
What do you think is the difference in smell and taste between the Furmint from Somló and the Furmint from Tokaj?
In my opinion, the Furmints from Tokaj are a bit thinner, more volatile, and the acids are more fleeting. They have more citrus and flower aromas. The Furmints from Somló are deeper, and their acids are longer. There is more of a salty flavor in them. But both of these wine regions are fantastic places, and both are volcanic. They each Tokaj and Somló have an easily recognizable intensive terroir character, which is why we love them so much!
Which wine region would you work in, if not in Somló?
Eger has a place in my heart., too. If my Somlói inspiration hadn’t come, perhaps I would be still there. But from the whole world, my choice would be Piedmont.
Published on: 15/06/2017