Bencze "Petillant Blanc"

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Regular price $43.00

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Grapes: 44% Pinot Noir + 38% Chenin Blanc + 18% Pinot Blanc


Vintage: 2021

Viticulture: Biodynamic

Soils: Clay, sand, sandstone with basalt

Vinification: Blended and bottled while still fermenting, with 18 grams of

Fining or Filtering: None

Sulfur: None

Notes from the Importer:

The early harvest date is not the only factor that sets this up-and-coming, introverted winemaker in his early thirties apart from the local scene. The other is the fact that since his 2017 visit to the Styrian natural legends Ewald Tscheppe and Roland Tauss, István has stopped using sulfur in the cellar, which is still quite unusual in Hungary. Not that his wines were ever conventional at any point: Bencze vineyards have been organic since the very beginning of his endeavor in 2011, and biodynamic since 2014 (now Demeter-certified). And his wines have always been made with very little intervention, save for filtration and sulfur addition at bottling. But that trip to Austria made this self-taught winemaker realize that he “didn’t want to use sulfites anymore, or make my wines less cloudy just for the sake of the conservative Hungarian market”.

Another encouragement on this path was István’s friendship with Slovak icon Zsolt Suto of Strekov 1075, who also called our attention to “Pišta” (a friendly diminutive of István) as a serious and promising young IT-engineer-turned-grower. He was right; István’s dedication became very apparent, very quickly during our visit. It was not only his respectful vineyard management following the Steiner principles, but also his relentless search for the best training and pruning methods (“we’re trying to keep the grapes close to the soil to get more microbiological activity”). 

Grape-wise, István works with a couple of “international” grapes that are well adapted to the area, such as Riesling, Pinot Noir, and his favorite Chenin blanc, and also with indigenous Hungarian varieties with tongue-twisting names (Keknyelú, anyone?), some of which are almost on the verge of extinction. Yep, winemaking can also be a heritage-preservation activity – this comes to our minds as István and his wife Klaudia (soulmate, inspiration, communication help, and pep-generator) show us a tiny plot of Bakator that might well be the only one in Hungary and/or the whole world. The couple got married in a picturesque chapel sitting atop their Templomdombi vineyard, a fact that makes this prime multi-varietal plot – with its soil full of basalt stones and perfect altitude and sun exposure – even more special for István’s work.

Fun facts:

  • István is a former IT-entrepreneur who decided to return to his grandparents’ winemaking activity in 2011, originally just for fun and also for himself.
  • The estate has been organic from day one and converted to biodynamics in 2014.
  • Originally using filtration and sulfur, István decided to leave these methods completely in November 2017 after a visit to the Styrian natural legends Ewald Tscheppe and Roland Tauss.
  • Mentorship and support from Zsolt Sütö of Strekov 1075 provided additional help on this zero-zero path.
  • Besides his love for Chenin, István also cherishes the indigenous grapes, and tries to preserve them; he owns arguably the only plot of the almost forgotten Bakator variety in Hungary.

Personality: Citruses, spring flowers on the nose, refreshing acidity and a bit of grapefruit rind grip on the palate. Very elegant, juicy and easy-drinking sparkler.

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