“I can’t imagine another path”
Talented, humble, ambitious, hardworking – these are useful characteristics for a young winemaker, especially if she is – at the moment – overshadowed by her famous and determined father. Pálma Koch, Csaba Koch’s daughter is a natural beauty with spotless shape, still being a model is not a thing for her. Creating amazing wines, that is what she wants.
Csaba Koch is the Winemaker of the Year (2019), and he has also received another prestigious award: Winery of the Year. He has his own concept called Happy Grape (read more by Chris Boiling on IWC Canopy magazine), and he is the owner and manager of a 160 hectare estate. You bet, he is used to giving orders and he is always frank – which can be harsh sometimes. And Pálma is used to reacting to his father’s requests quicker than a wink – we could see it last summer, when Koch Winery hosted a category for our Hungarian WebWineWriting online contest, and we visited the estate with our jury members and winners. Pálma was always eager to help and her eyes were full of enthusiasm. Pálma is 23 years old, she is the younger daughter, and unlike her sister, she works with her father, and she cannot imagine anything else for her career. She learnt to sing and dance at school, but soon it became obvious for her, that winemaking is not a job, but a way of life. In spring she did a harvest period on the other side of the globe, in Stellenbosch just like last year in Chile. As she told to Ádám Geri winewriter in an interview on Borászportál.hu, she is lucky to be the member of a small team at 4G Wines, a cult winery with high quality standards. “They select berries by hand and pay extra attention to every step of vinification. Only 40 tons are processed at this misterious winery – first they did not reveal much of themeselves, I realized only later how fortunate I am.” As fortunate she was to find the winery and learn from the small staff, as unlucky she was because of the COVID crisis. “Meanwhile I was admitted to the university of my dreams: I will do my master’s degree in Montpellier from September. Even though it was only April, nobody could predict the situation in the summer and autumn. I was afraid of being stuck in South Africa, so I returned to Hungary much earlier than I had planned.”
Pálma’s first vintage
However, she is far from being sad. The new impressions gained in Stellenbosch are inspiring, she can’t wait to start experimenting. “Obviously I am not about to alter the style created by my father, but there are some things to which I would like to give a try.” Pálma has already made the first vintage of her own Syrah from a 0.2 hectare plot. Csaba Koch “gave her the cellar key”, so basically let her do what she wanted. After careful manual harvest and manual selection the grape was fermented at normal temperature between 23–26 Celsius with one day of cold soaking. The wine was matured in used French oak, and her father is really proud of the first child of his child. “Only 1289 bottles were made at the end of last summer, and though our followers could taste it a couple of times at festivals, tastings, I have just received the official documents, so the wine is being released to the market now – with only 1230 bottles left.” The bottles will be labelled tomorrow, sale starts. And of course the second vintage is also on the way, the same plot, the same Syrah, but Pálma gives a chance to American oak as well this time.
Between Stellenbosch and Montpellier she is not relaxing, but working hard every day. She starts early in the morning, checks vineyards, does every kind of job in the processing plant, and also helps with tasting – in fact she is already in charge of most tastings. With so much enthusiasm, ambition and hard work, she is definitely a winemaker to watch.