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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Darrel Joseph

Istvn Szepsy, who produces some of Hungary's finest premium quality Tokaji Asz, has founded yet another winery in the Tokay region. Zemplen Ridge - or Zempln Hegyht in Hungarian - was recently founded by Szepsy and Anthony Hwang, an American financier who invested heavily in another Szepsy-run Tokaj winery, Kirlyudvar, which opened just over two years ago. With Zemplen Ridge, my aim is to produce Tokaj wines that are lighter, with lower concentration; not so high in sugar,' said the 50-year-old Szepsy. They will still be aristocratic wines of great structure and I believe they will appeal strongly to a younger wine-drinking audience.' Szepsy and Hwang have put Zemplen Ridge under the ownership of Szepsy's three children, Gabriella, 24, Istvn, 22 and Kinga, 17, as well as Hwang's 22-year-old son, Stephen. Until now, Szepsy has specialised in the highly sweet 6 puttonyos Tokay Asz wines and cuve blends, which he produces at Kirlyudvar, as well as at his own cellars (Istvn Szepsy label). The Zemplen Ridge winery will produce mainly 5 puttonyos Asz wines from Furmint and Hrslevel grapes, which will originate from Szepsy's volcanic soil-laden Nyulsz vineyard. Ageing will be in new 300-litre Hungarian oak barrels. The first Zemplen Ridge wines, 15,000 half-litre bottles from the 2002 vintage, will be released at the end of 2004. These will be available in Hungary and other European markets, as well as the United States and Asia. Presently, production of the Zemplen Ridge wines is taking place in the Kirlyudvar winery, but the construction and opening of the Zemplen Ridge winery itself is planned for early 2005, at a cost of $1.5 million. Since 1990, more than $100 million in foreign investment has poured into Tokaj's wineries and vineyards.