The history of Tűzkő Estate dates back to the beginning of the 1990s when Hungary went through some groundbreaking political and economic changes. The system change also resulted in the alteration of the wine system, therefore quality-conscious private wineries were founded at the place of the enormous, quality-focused state vineyards. This transformation created real market conditions and opened up the county for foreign investors as well. The history, diversity, millennial traditions and the hidden possibilities of the Hungarian wine regions attracted numerous, considerable business people to our country. Foreign capital was mainly invested into the grapevines of Tokaj, but Szekszárd and Tolna region were also included in the strongest and most popular wine empire.
Marquis Piero Antinori and Jacopo Mazzei saw some great potential in Tűzkő Estate. The global Antinori Empire needs the fresh wines coming from the placid Pannon hills of Bátaapáti, reminiscent of Tuscany. Marquis Antinori, one of the most significant representatives of wine in the world, decided to take control of Tűzkő Estate. The Marquis is the creator of the modern Italian wine. He was the one who introduced revolutionary innovations in the wine production of Italy and elevated Tuscan wines to become world class from the level of washy table wines. However, in tandem with the deep, serious and world-famous Tuscan reds, he also needed some good quality, fragrant and crisp whites, which he could manage to find at Tűzkő Estate. “Amazingly elegant Italian restaurants have inquired about our Traminer, which they recommend as an aperitif, or serve as a welcome drink for honourable guests” – claimed the Marquis. Antinori has estates nearly in every corner of the world: Tuscany, Umbria, Malta, Chile, California, Washington, and makes his legendary wines on the best slopes of the globe. This extraordinary list includes Tűzkő Estate of Bátaapáti.
The Antinori family has been involved in wine making for over 600 years, ever since Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the guild of wine-makers in Florence in 1385. Led by tradition and respect for the fertile soil, 26 generations of the family have so far carried on with the work Giovanni di Piero started. This noble conservatism has never hindered the creativity of the Antinoris in their ability to introduce even the most daring innovations in their wineries. In the words of Piero Antinori: “our ancient roots have always played an important role in our philosophy, but they have never stopped us from renewal”. Today the director of the company is Marquis Piero Antinori, supported in his daily work by his three daughters, Albiera, Allegra and Alessia. The Marquis continues his research in his vineyards and cellars, be it in the selection of indigenous Italian or international clones, cultivation or fermentation methods, the maturing in barrels or in bottles, or the traditional or modern vinification techniques. The goal is always the same: to create the deepest, finest, and most marketable wines. The wine-empire always strives to produce wines in its foreign territories which reflect and reproduce the special attributes of the local varieties, styles, tastes and traditions.
Ser Lapo Mazzei, ancestor of the Mazzei family, the other major share-holder of the company, is known as the ‘father’ of the Chianti name: the first known document in which the name Chianti is mentioned is a sales agreement signed by him on 16th December, 1398. The most important estate of the family is Fonterutoli, handed down from father to son over 24 generations since 1435. Another noteworthy member of the family was Filippo Mazzei (1730-1816), who travelled to the United States at the invitation of Thomas Jefferson, the later president of the US. The wine-stock planted by him was the beginning of wine-growing in Virginia. These are the traditions that Tűzkő Estate in Bátaapáti can build on.
The Szekszárd area is an ancient wine region where wine-making can be traced back to Roman times. The first Hungarian kings introduced strict regulations to protect the noble wines produced here. The hills were covered with grapevines and wine was produced in the region even under the occupation of the Turks, who seem to have had a taste for the Szekszárd Kadarka. The industrious and wine-loving Swabians, who settled in the region in the eighteenth century, brought new life to the local vine cultivation. This is where the favourite wines of Franz Liszt and Pope Pius IX came from, and where Mihály Babits and Ervin Lázár acquired a taste for good wine.
The development that this region, which seems to have been created for wine-growing, went through after the change of regime in 1989 indicates that it will be among the best in the twenty-first century as well. Two of the most important regions are the Szekszárd hills and the Völgység, with a total area of 2,800 hectares. The undulating landscape with its countless furrows, the valleys and loess hills with their varying climates provide for an extremely varied growing area. This is why wines produced here, whether they are white or red, cover a wide range of nuances.
Szekszárd is famous for its red wines, whereas the Tolna wine region, encompassing the area around Völgység, Tolna and Tamási, has produced the best white wines since 1998 as an independent wine-growing region. These wines, produced from Chardonnay, Traminer, Green Veltelini, Rhine Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, are well-liked for their excellent, fresh bouquet and fragrance. Yet, besides the great white wines, full-bodied, complex reds can also be produced on the hills of Tolna, as is proven by the leading wine of Tűzkő Estate, the Tűzkő Domb cuvée. The wine farmers of the villages and small towns of the region always await visitors with warm hospitality in their cellars in and around Paks, Möcsény, Simontornya, Felsőnyék and Hőgyész. Bátaapáti, where Tűzkő Estate can be found, is also one of these settlements, a tiny village hiding in an amazingly beautiful landscape, in the vicinity of the lakes of Szálka and Zsibrik.
The new wine cellar of Tűzkő Estate, equipped with top technology for soft pressing and providing the controlled temperatures necessary for fermentation and bottling, was built in 1991. Deep inside one of the loess hills, the winery also has a brick-lined underground cellar built in the early 1700s. This excellent cellar, with a yearly temperature fluctuation of 1 degree C, functions today just as well as 300 years ago when the Apponyi family owned it. It is in these historic caverns that the wine ages, be it in 225 liter barrique oak barrels or in bottles. The light white wines must be fermented in tempering stainless steel tanks in order to retain their flowery-fruity scent. On the other hand, it is imperative that red wine is aged in barrels in the interest of achieving the best possible fullness and complexity. By using barrique barrels, wine undergoes considerable transformation in the process of aging, acquiring a well-rounded taste. Tűzkő Estate owns a barrel factory, or, more precisely, the ‘Európai Kádárok Kft”, the barrel factory in Palotabozsok with its administrative center located in Bátaapáti, is part of the Antinori empire. “Európai Kádárok” is a world-famous company in its own right: their excellent quality barrels, used in Italy, Spain, Austria, France, Australia, South-Africa, Chile, Canada and California, stand the test of competition from France or the U.S. These barrels, made from Hungarian oak (quercus petrea) with the same quality attributes as French oak, play an important role in producing wine at Tűzkő Estate: their taste vibrates in every bottle of the excellent, complex red cuvées.