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The Fifth Day Visiting Hungary

Kovács Nimród Wines

On our 5th day of visiting Hungary, we continued exploring Eger. Our day included a visit to Kovács Nimród Cellar, sightseeing in historic Eger, a visit and wine tasting at St. Andrea winery as well as dinner at Szépasszonyvölgy located in The Valley of the Beautiful Women.

At Kovács Nimród we saw a number of crucifixes and our winery/wine tasting guide noted that people would pray for a good harvest. We walked, tasted wines and walked through the wine cellars while our guide talked about the history of the winery with special emphasis on the owner. 

Eger Castle in Hungary

After our visit to Kovács Nimród, we explored the area of Eger near the castle. An array of small shops are available to enjoy shopping for souvenirs and Hungarian products. Eventually we made our way to Eger Castle, the site of the renowned Siege of Eger in 1552. This was the setting of the legend of the well known Bull’s Blood wine. However while at Eger Castle we saw no mention of the connection of Bull’s Blood wine and the battle. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at the castle outside of a restaurant which claimed to be one of the top two restaurants in Eger. (laborbistro.hu)  I chose a Caesar salad and was surprised at the large size and thoroughly enjoyed the fresh flavors.

St. Andrea Wine Cellar

After lunch we drove to the laidback Valley of Beautiful Women as our guide related one of the legends of the valley.

Our next winery visit was to St. Andrea where we were quickly greeted and followed by a tour of the St. Andrea cellar caves. After the tour we went to an upper level for the wine tasting. We were surprised to learn according to our tour guide (a deacon for the Byzantine Orthodox Catholic church) that there was no St. Andrea. The winery was named for the winemaker’s wife. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of religious paintings and icons in the room. It was explained that the deacon and the winemaker had painted these. Soon we sat down for the wine tasting that was accompanied by a plate of bread, meat and cheese.

In the evening, we returned to The Valley of the Beautiful Women where we stopped at Demeter, a small wine tasting room, set amongst many other wine shops/bars. These wine tasting rooms are set into a cliff/wall of carved out caves. After tasting two wines at Demeter we wandered for a time through the park and past numerous brightly lit wine shops.

Eventually we made our way to the Ködmön Csárda Restaurant. This restaurant, also in The Valley of Beautiful Women, is large and divided into several parts. The staff is friendly and very polite. One waiter in particular was happy to regale us with two variations of the legend behind the name of the valley.

Thus concluded our 5th successful day in Hungary in the Eger region.

Cheers!
Kathy and Terry

The Fourth Day of Visiting Hungary

Árvay Family Cellars in Tokaj, Hungary

Our fourth day in Hungary began with a visit to Árvay Family Cellars. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by family members who are very involved in the winemaking, vineyards and marketing of the Árvay  wines. The vineyards of 17 hectares are organic. The vineyards consist of Hungarian and international grapevines. Upon entering the tasting room, visitors will quickly see a large display of the rocks that have been found over the years in the vineyards. The family knows details of the rocks including the ones that have fossils. Later our discussion included the improvements to the Hungarian wine industry including the more recently produced good, food friendly, dry wines.

Wine at Tóth Ferenc in Eger, Hungary

While we were excited to visit the next wine region of Hungary, we were sorry to leave Tokaj, a world renowned wine region that is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. However before long, we entered Eger another great wine region of Hungary. Our first winery to visit in Eger was Tóth Ferenc. The winery was founded in 1983 beginning with six hectares. Today the owner prefers working in the vineyard and has a winemaker who is excited to make wines in the Eger region. After touring the winery and the cellars built in 2011 we went to an upper floor where we tasted several wines with the winemaker. Two of the special wines we taste were Egri Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) and Egri Leányka Superior 2016.

Our day finished with a delicious five course meal at the Macok Restaurant located just outside of the Eger Castle walls where the legend of the Bull’s Blood originated. True or not the legend is not only entertaining but fascinating.

As we left the restaurant that night, we knew would be visiting Eger Castle the next day where we hoped to learn more about the Siege of Eger in 1552 and its connection with the legend of Bull’s Blood wine.

Cheers,

Kathy and Terry

A Third Day in the Tokaj, Hungary Wine Region

Our wine in Hungary continued for the third day. We spent the entire day in Tokaj exploring and tasting the sweet Azu wines as well as the new and upcoming dry wines. After leaving our lodging site of Gróf Degenfeld Castle, we visited Kikelit Cellars , Hetszolo Estate Vineyard and Oremus.

At Oremus, a large winery, we saw several carboys aging gallons of Eszencia. Oremus was established by a Spanish company. The winery was named for a vineyard. Grape varieties in the Oremus vineyards include Furmint, Hárslevelü, Sárgamuskotály and Zéta. The cellars of the winery remain a constant 11 to 12 degrees Celsius (52 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit).

As soon as we reached Kikelit, we stopped in a room where the types of soil and rocks from the vineyards were displayed. One drawer displayed fossils, another rocks and stones and then the third displayed artifacts found in the vineyards. Guesses were made as to what some of the items were and well as what the items were used for. It was a quick, fun moment. 

Kikelit Cellars

Soon we were provided with a tour of the cellar which are about 300 years old, although no one knows exactly.  Next we went to the upper level of the building where we were enveloped in a bath of sunshine. Glass windows allow in plenty of light. A door leads to the outside patio which is adjacent to a recently planted demonstration vineyard that will include several grapevines of the grape varieties growing in Tokaj.

Far in advance of reaching the Hetszolo vineyards, we saw a “Hollywood” style sign placed high in the hills of vineyards announcing TOKAJ – HETSZOLO.  Arriving at the vineyards, we met American-born Kathryn who provided us with a walk up through the vineyards as she described the organic techniques the winery is currently using. 

Hetszolo Estate Vineyard

Kathryn also talked about the history of Hetszolo vineyards and how grapes had been growing here for centuries. At one time the vineyards had been owned by seven separate winegrowers who eventually sold the vineyards to one individual. After the trek through the vineyards, we went into Tokaj where the winery operates a tasting room located over deep cellars that have their own renowned history. Later we went to an upper floor tasting room where it was brighter and a bit warmer. We tasted several of the Hetszolo wines including a phenomenal Tokaji Eszencia which is produced with free run juice from botrytised grapes.

For our wine journey, Day 3 was another successful day!

Cheers!
Kathy and Terry

A Second Day in Tokaj, Hungary

Gergely Somogyi is a very knowledgeable guide.

On our second full day in Hungary, we arrived in the Tokaj wine region and met our knowledgeable wine guide an expert on the wines of Tokaj, Gergely Somogyi at Barta Cellars. Gergely guided us through the 400-year-old structure while also explaining the history of winemaking in Hungary beginning at least 1,000 years ago. He noted that the vineyards of Tokaj were classified in 1670. In 1737, the wine region was demarcated  and it became the first demarcated wine region in the world. A wall in one of the Barta buildings displayed a large map of the wine region in 1865.

As many of the world’s wine region did, Hungary and the Tokaj wine region has had its ups and downs throughout the centuries. The Hungarian wine industry also saw the loss of vineyards due to phylloxera as did many other wine regions. Over time the wine industry has also suffered due to conquering conquests and political movements. However, today Hungary’s wine industry is burgeoning once again.

It was interesting to discover that the wine region of Tokaj which found its reputation due to sweet white wines is now discovering that white dry wines especially using the Furmint grape are now highly recognized.

Our first Enzó wine of the day at Barta Cellers

After learning about the history of wine in Hungary, we continued with a tour of the Barta winemaking facility and cellars. Owned by Karoly Barta, the winery has 10 hectares of organic vineyards predominantly planted with the Furmint grape. Winemaking includes aging the wines in oak.

We stopped at another room where we had a wine tasting of six Barta wines that ranged from dry to sweet. Our visit to Barta included seeing the large renovated guest house available for rent.

Our next stop of the day was to Elso Mádi,  a restaurant where I enjoyed a beef consommé soup that included carrots, potatoes and pasta. Terry had the Cauliflower curry, black Basmati rice and Coriander.

Directly behind the restaurant is Ma’d Wine. Wine tourism is encouraged at Ma’d Wine with wine tastings, occasional vineyard walks and tasting wines in the vineyard. The winery building is quite new and in  2019, a new warehouse is planned. After the winemaker opened the doors our eyes were drawn to the over-sized large and colorful wall paintings. Featured in the paintings were comic goats. Inquiring minds would ask what do goats have to do with a winery. Later we discovered that the owners of the winery also have a goat farm.

Very colorful walls in the winery of Ma’d Wine

We returned to the restaurant to taste four of the Ma’d wines. Soon it was time to leave for Holdvölgy where we discovered the winemaker waiting for us outside. Our attention was quickly drawn to the  sight of the tasting room’s living roof. The clear glass front walls of the tasting room highlighted the beautiful gold color of all of the Holdyölgy wines.

Our tour began with a walk down the circular staircase where we entered the large labyrinth cave system. In the rock covered caves, we tasted the first Holdvölgy wine which was dry. We then walked through the “endless” caves filled with wine barrels. Later we returned to the tasting room where we enjoyed a vertical tasting of six Aszú wines which were sweet. The variation between these sweet wines was due in part to the weather for each year. Each wine was a little different.

A vertical tasting of six Enzó wines at Holdvölgy Cellar

Our final stop for day two was Gróf Degenfeld Castle also the home of organic wines beginning in 2017. The winery is located behind the large mansion and also had a large cave system including a cave library of wines.

The cave at Gróf Degenfeld Winery

We stayed over night in the mansion, built in 1872, which offers elegant dinners and cuisine as well as large rooms for guests.

We could not have asked for a better way to spend our first day in Tokaj.

Aszú Restaurant in Budapest Offers a Taste of Hungary

Aszu Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary

On our first night in Budapest, we were taken to Aszú Restaurant by Gabriella Gónusz  and Csilla Jánosi of Wine A’ More Travel. This wine travel agency set up our wine journey through Hungary and a region in Austria. Aszú specializes in Hungarian cuisine that has a modern twist whiles respecting tradition. The wine list heavily relies on the Tokaj wine region in the north eastern part of Hungary. 

We began with a Palinka and a sparkling wine from Tokai. The Palinka, a distilled spirit, was very aromatic. It had a clear color and intense taste of pears. The mouthfeel was velvety with some alcohol heat. This was paired with a  goose liver appetizer that included goose liver cream, Aszú jelly, grape salad and olive powder. Kathy had a duck liver appetizer that included duck liver on french toast with sorrel and hollandaise sauce. This appetizer was paired with a Furmint sparkling wine. This sparkling wine with many small bubbles and a mousse around the circumference offered a fresh taste. It was crisp and dry as well as palate cleansing.

Fresh fillet of trout from Sziluásuárad, parsley risotto, pak choy, zucchinies and gremolata. I paired this with a dry Furmint from Oremus in the Tokai region.

For my entrée I had fresh fillet of trout from Sziluásuárad, parsley risotto, pak choy, zucchinies and gremolata. I paired this with a dry Furmint from Oremus in the Tokai region. The Furmint had a yellow color and an expressive aroma of tropical fruits. The taste reminded me of mangos, pineapple, melons and mineral. The finish was crisp. The wine was refreshing and paired well with the trout.

Kathy enjoyed paprika chicken with túrós galuska (Hungarian cottage cheese dumpling), cottage cheese mousse and cucumbers. This entrée was paired with a red wine. 

We decided to have sweet wines for dessert. I had the Szepsy Édes Szamorodni 2013. The wine had a light gold color and offered dried fruits and honeysuckle. The wine was extremely smooth and full bodied. Although sweet, the sweetness was balanced by its acidity.

Bencés Gyógynövenylikör

Prior to leaving, the wine steward brought out a couple spirits he wanted us to try. I tried the Bencés Gyógynövenylikör. This amber colored spirit had an orange hue. It was crafted with over 50 herbs. The aroma and taste were herbal with some alcohol heat. I thought as I was sipping the spirit, that this would cure many ailments. 

Kathy’s distilled spirit, Bencés Meggylikör/ Benedictine Sour Cherry Liqueur,  was produced using an ancient recipe from the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonbalma. This cherry flavored liquor was made with water, gipsy sour cherry, gipsy sour cherry palinka, sugar and citric acid. Kathy is already wondering if this is available in the US. This distilled spirit had 22% alcohol. It was a very enjoyable way to end our first evening in Budapest.

Cheers,
Terry

Our Wine Journey through Hungary Begins with Austrian Air

The prosecco in the Lufthansa lounge at IAD

We avoided the food and drink in the Lufthansa lounge deciding not to ruin our appetite for what is served on Austrian as we fly to Vienna and then onto Budapest. We did have a nice Siema Vineyards Prosecco while waiting to be called for our flight. The prosecco was refreshing and had multiple columns of bubbles forming a central mousse on the surface. The bubbles lasted for quite a while even while I ran an errand that would rescue hundreds of photos with my camera while on a wine journey in Hungary and Austria. 

The yellow colored prosecco had an aroma and taste of apple and citrus. The mouthfeel was lively with racy acidity. The prosecco cleansed the palate.

Finally, we boarded the Austrian Boeing 767 and settled in our middle row two seats. We received our menu choices for both dinner and breakfast prior to arrival in Vienna.  I also had sparkling water before the plane left the gate. After we were at cruising altitude, the wine and other spirits started flowing.

I decided to stick to Austrian wines since the last leg of our journey was to visit wineries in Austria. I started with the 2016 Schlumberger Rosé Brut. The Sekt, with 12% alcohol had multiple columns of tiny bubbles forming a total surface mousse. After awhile, the mousse was on the center and circumference of the surface. The wine had a salmon color and offered red berry fruit on the aroma and taste. The sparkling wine had a very creamy mouthfeel. While enjoying the 200 ml bottle of the Schlumberger Rosé, I was served a plate of nuts and selected a pretzel roll. Then I was served buffalo mozzarella with avocado, tomatoes and black olives. The steward convinced me to try the gingered butternut squash soup. All the appetizers paired well with the Schlumberger Rosé.

2016 Schlumberger Rosé Brut with the first course

For my entrée I chose grilled Chilean sea bass with lemon butter, Mediterranean beluga lentils and celeriac mash. I decided to pair the entrée with Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC 2017. The wine had a light gold color and a light aroma. The taste reminded me of mangos, citrus and mineral especially chalk. The mouthfeel was soft with racy acidity. Tropical fruits yielded to citrus and mineral on the finish. The wine is seductive. It makes you want to keep coming back to it.

For Kathy, she chose the homemade ricotta ravioli for her entrée. She paired this dish with the Ferabam Premium Zweigelt 2015. The wine had a dark opaque red color. The aroma and taste was reminiscent of plums, black pepper and mineral. The wine was full bodied, dry and had a long finish. It paired well with the ravioli and its slow roasted cherry tomato sauce.

At a recent optometrist appointment our doctor talked about an Austrian wine he really liked by Kracher. This sweet dessert wine was on our menu so both Kathy and I tried it. The wine

2017 Burgenland Beerenauslese Cuvée was a dessert in a glass.

was a blend of Chardonnay and Welschriesling. The wine had a gold color. The aroma was floral with yellow stone fruit and menthol. The taste was reminiscent of peaches, nectarines, honeysuckle and a hint of menthol. This wine is dessert in a glass. A testament of liquid sunshine.

Our wine journey continues with a Hungarian dinner.

Cheers,
Terry

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry

We received three bottles of prosecco from Mionetto. We shared the Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry with friends that enjoy prosecco. The wines we received were from the Mionetto Luxury Selection. The bottles were beautiful with an elegant black color and the word Mionetto embossed on the glass. The two other proseccos that we wrote about were the Cuvée Anniversario 1887 – 2017 and the Cartizze DOCG. Although I enjoyed all three, the Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry was my favorite.

I like my sparkling wines to have tiny bubbles and showcase in a flute with multiple columns of bubbles forming a mousse on the surface of the wine. The Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry had the smallest of the bubbles of the three proseccos, and also formed multiple columns of bubbles and central and circumferential mousses. The sparkling wine had a yellow color. The aroma offered apple, pear and citrus. While the taste included green apple, pear and lemon. The velvety mouthfeel was also lively. The residual sugar was between 178 and 19 g/L. This slight sweetness enhanced the Glera grape.

Antipasto and Prosecco

Our host prepared antipasto and the sparkling wine paired well. The antipasto included different cured meats, olives, peppers, artichokes, a dip and different types of crackers. This prosecco was delicious and refreshing and enhanced the antipasto. 

Luxury and elegance should not have to cost a fortune. The Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry retails for less than $20.

You may also like to read about:

Cuvée Anniversario 1887 – 2017 post
Cartizze DOCG post

Cheers,
Terry

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a Cocktail

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

If you would enjoy a cocktail to celebrate the day, check out the cocktail recipes on these earlier blogs.

http://winetrailtraveler.com/blog/2018/03/16/cocktails-for-st-patricks-day-2/

http://winetrailtraveler.com/blog/2015/03/11/cocktails-for-st-patricks-day/

Hope you have a peaceful St.Patrick’s Day!

Cheers!
Kathy and Terry

Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015 Reminds Us of our Time in Portugal

Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015

A year ago, we enjoyed a wonderful wine journey through Portugal. This was our first visit to the country and would love to return. We enjoyed the wines and food from several wine regions. We discovered new grape varieties and learned to make cocktails with port, an experience that helped us make it through the summer. Recently, we tasted a Portuguese wine, Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015 that brought back memories of that wine journey. From the aroma, our first thought was Portugal.

The Wine

The Rabisco Vinho Tinto Reserva Tejo 2015, that we received as a sample from Winesellers, Ltd., had an opaque dark ruby to black color with a dark red hue. This equal blend of Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon was 13.5% alcohol. The aroma reminded us of Portugal with dark fruits and baking spices. Blackberries and blueberries were predominant on the taste along with spices and a touch of leather. The mouthfeel was smooth and the wine had a full body with medium tannins.

The wine bottle’s label has a sketch of a stork. This is very appropriate since, in Portuguese, “rabisco” means “sketch.” The winery, Quinta Sao Joao Batista is located in a natural reserve and animal sanctuary. Many birds pass through the sanctuary and storks will overwinter in the area. Quinta Sao Joao Batista has 76 hectares (188 acres) of vineyards comprised of native Portuguese grapes and international varieties.

The suggested retail price for the wine is $13. It pairs well with roasts and Mediterranean cuisine.

To learn about our wine journey through Portugal, visit our Portugal site.

Cheers,
Terry

National Potato Chip Day and Wine

Potato chips and champagne

Many who know me understand that I absolutely love potato chips. On top of that I am very choosy about my potato chips. I had to laugh when I told one of my daughters that my favorite potato chip was a simple, thin-sliced potato chip offered by our local grocery store. I was amazed when my daughter agreed with me.

March 14 is National Potato Chip Day

However, before I go into details about the history of potato chips, let me tell you about the best wine pairing for potato chips. While traveling in wine country, we were offered potato chips with a sparkling wine. It was delightful. Early on I would never have considered pairing wine with potato chips. It seems the salt in potato chips increases the flavor with the dryness of the wine. The chemistry works.

Four years ago when we were in the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terry wrote a blog about the potato chip and champagne pairing we did.

National Day Calendar offers  a good historical look at the history of potato chips which seems to have originated in the mid 1800s. Today two US potato chip makers claim to be one of the oldest potato chip companies. On MikeSells website, “Sure, we’ve been around longer than almost every other potato chip company in the United States… a milestone we wouldn’t have reached without all our loyal, passionate fans.”

The other potato chip company website history page indicates they were the oldest company to make potato chips, starting in 1908. “What does it take for a small family-owned business to exist for over one hundred years and four generations? Determination, courage, ingenuity and a strong work ethic. Such is the case with the Tri-Sum Potato Chip Company. Back in 1908, J.P. Duchesneau, an enterprising entrepreneur, drove his horse drawn wagon on an eight mile route delivering his hand-cooked potato chips to Leominster and Fitchburg establishments.”

If you like potato chips, try pairing the chips with a sparkling wine to celebrate National Potato Chip Day!

Cheers!
Kathy


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