The collapse of Communism in 1989 heralded a new era, not only for Hungary but for Tokaji wines. During the last 10 years many hectares of land on this volcanic range of hills in the northeastern corner of Hungary have been returned to private ownership. As a result, Tokaji wines are enjoying a renaissance and can once again take their place among the great wines of the world.
New winemaking companies have been established, including the Dobogó Vineyards and Cellars. While many vineyards are now in foreign hands, Dobogó belongs to Izabella Zwack, the youngest member of the Zwack family, better known in Hungary for their distillery on the banks of the Danube, which produces Unicum, Hungary’s digestive liqueur. Dobogó Vineyards and Cellars Ltd. was purchased in 1995 with the aim of restoring the wines of Tokaj to their original splendor. The old cellar is tucked in-between two churches just off the main square in the village of Tokaj. Dobogó literally means “clippity-clop,” the sound of the horsedrawn carts on cobblestones as they return from the vineyards.
Location of Vineyard
The vineyards that produce Tokaji Aszú at Dobogó are located on the volcanic soils of the first-growth classified vineyards at Mák and Tállya. At Dobogó, dedication has been wedded to modern technology by the Zwack family to proudly produce a true Hungarian Tokaji Aszú, faithful to its centuries-old traditions. Dobogó is the only winery that produces only six-puttonyos Tokaji Aszú, the most prestigious elixir of them all.
The process of making Tokaji wines starts with Aszú berries, which are harvested and reserved in the cellar, while the remaining grapes are fermented for the base wine in proportions dictated by the traditions of the zone. For six puttonyos, the wine must reach a total residual sugar of 150g/L, but in some vintages it can far exceed that. In letting the conditions of each particular vintage show its own character, the classical traditions of the region are enhanced and the continued nobility of the wines are assured.
Winemaking at Dobogó is directed by Attila Domokos, a native of the region who has officially joined the company as a partner, ensuring that the collaboration with Izabella and the Zwack family will continue into future vintages with continually improved quality and recognition.
Péter Zwack is better known as the 5th generation heir to the Zwack firm founded in 1840 by his great grandfather, József Zwack. Peter left Hungary for a while and was active in the wines and spirits business in the United States and Italy. He returned to Budapest in 1987 to buy back the Unicum Company along with his partner, Emil Underberg. He has since served as ambassador to the United States and a member of the Hungarian Parliament.
Izabella Zwack, current owner of the company, runs the wine department in the Zwack family factory in Budapest. She is in charge of marketing Dobogó and other leading wines from Hungary and other countries, and travels the world to promote her Tokaji.