Tokaj wine tasting with Adam Varkoly
October 19th, 2018 | Landgänge
Our trip to Budapest also took us to Hungary’s most famous wine-growing region, the Tokaj region. There we met a young Hungarian winemaker full of esprit, Ádám Varkoly. If you think Tokaj wines have to be sweet and full-bodied, Ádám will quickly teach you a lesson. His winery Árpád-hegy Pince in Szerencs also produces wonderful, dry wines from Furmint.
Even though I am basically an advocate of German wines and particularly appreciate the young German winegrowers for their freshness and their innovative spirit, I would like to report here about this Hungarian wine-growing region and this special young winegrower. It seems that currently the Tokaj is undergoing a transformation. Surely a generation change, but also an opening to the dry wines, which seem to flourish on the volcanic soil of the Tokaj very well.
Arpad-hegy Pince - first wine address in Szerencs
Ádám Varkoly plays a big role here. Just last year, the talented, aspiring winemaker won the commemorative award “Tibor Gál”, one of the most important awards of Hungary.
Ádám sparkles with enthusiasm when he talks about his wines, his winery Árpád-hegy Pince and the building he would like to renovate and rebuild. It should shine again in old splendor. Ádám dreams of guest rooms and – of course – a wine bar with terrace. As before. But first, the marketing of the wines must be further promoted, he says. The conversion still has to wait. We do not doubt that the young, energetic man will implement these ambitious plans.
The sweet bank
During our visit, Ádám shows us his cellar and also his “bank” where he stores his sweet wine treasures. Impressive. I cannot say otherwise. You can feel how he is burning for his job and his wines. A true passion. He goes into raptures when he tells us how to make the Tokaj. It is not easy and also costly. Tokaj wine is made from dry berries. You have to imagine that, as dried on the vine, almost raisin-like berries that receive their natural must concentration by noble rot. However, this noble rot does not occur every year, and certainly not in the same quality. So you can imagine how difficult this business is.
The main grape variety of the Tokaj sweet wine cuvée is the Furmint grape, an old Hungarian grape variety. Ádám also uses it to make a dry Furmint, which tastes particularly good to us. Excellent.
I do not call myself a wine connoisseur or even an expert. My expertise lies in knowing which wine I personally like and which does not – and that’s how most of my readers will go. Basically, I’m not the sweet wine fan. Sweet wine can sometimes be very exciting in combination with a special dish (eg goose liver), but generally I prefer dry wines. Therefore, I was admittedly also a little skeptical of the planned visit and a tasting of Tokaj wines. But our host, the ship’s doctor, had planned it – and so it could only be good. And so it was.
Apprenticeship in New Zealand
Ádám seems to rejoice over guests who enjoy the “new” Tokaj wines that are not exclusively in search of the classic. He tells us that his career was probably intended. Shaped by his parents’ house, he made his first solo wine at 18, in 2010. After graduation, he was in New Zealand to expand his knowledge there. New Zealand offered itself because you can go there in winter when there is less work to do on the vineyard in Hungary. Of course he cannot leave the vineyard alone.
And then he’s back at his grandfather’s house, where we’re sitting right now. He has precise ideas of how everything should look like here: the front terrace, the vineyards on the back, the green tiled stove inside and a wine bar inside. There should be guest rooms and of course animals have to live there. Actually, they already do that, right next to the entrance you can see goat and sheep in the pen. An idyll to immerse yourself in.
Maybe we can go there someday and stay in wonderful guest rooms on the winery Árpád-hegy Pince. We would be glad! We only hope that Ádáms wines – the sweet and the dry ones – will be available in Germany very soon!
From Budapest, a visit to Szerencs can be well organized as a day trip. A stopover in Hortobágyi is certainly also possible. Anyone looking for more information about Hungarian wines and Hungary in general is on the right track on the webpage “Ungarische Reisewege” (Hungary Itineraries).
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