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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.

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