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© John Farren

Meeting 391 - -"Wines of Hungary Tokaji"

Friday 19th February 2016     Neville Hall, Waltham St Lawrence 

Speaker:  Ferenc Zelenak (Zefino Wines and Spirits  

       It was a delight to have Ferenc to talk to us. His enthusiasm for Hungarian wines, particularly those from Tokaji was quite infectious. His family has been in the wine making business for more than 300 years, and he was 12 years old when his grandparents bought him a vineyard for his birthday in the Teleki Grand Cru, Hungary.

       Tokaji was the first wine growing area to be given accreditation in 1737. In addition to their obvious imbibing qualities, Tokaji Aszu wines have been investigated for their health effects, and their impact on the immune system. For centuries, bottles were sold in pharmacies and used for spiritual meditation, too. It is also a scientific fact that Tokaji Aszu wines have an invigorating effect on the body and has a positive effect on the bones due to their high phosphorus content. Its high natural sugar and acid content are also strengthening and can help prevent heart and circulatory problems.
       With all that supporting background, how could we not enjoy the range of wines Ferenc has selected for us?

       Six grape varieties are officially approved for the Tokaj wine production: Furmint, Hárslevelu, Yellow Muscat (Hungarian: Sárgamuskotály), Zéta (previously called Oremus - a cross of Furmint and Bouvier grapes), Kövérszlu and Kabar (a cross of Hárslevelu and Bouvier grapes)

       The Degenfeld sparkling Tokaji aperitif was very fresh and fruity, providing us with our first taste of Furmint, the most widely grown grape in the area. This was followed by the Kardos 3 ceparges Ziccer. With an asparagus nose and pale green colour, this fresh stainless steel fermented wine consisted of Furmint, Harslevelu and Sárgamuskotály grapes. The presence of the latter came out in the hint of muscat on the palate. The Sauska Furmint had a spicy peppermint nose and a clean grapefruit and lime palate. The first Cru wine, the Erzebet Pricec Zafir, was from the Zahir single vinyard. With little nose, it was quite acidic but with conentrated lime and lemon flavours, it didn't receive the acclaim of the memmbers that one might expect. The same could be said of ther Degenfeld Terezia GC Hárslevelu.
       The following Erzsebet Pinsec: Kiraly Tokaji Premier Cru,Furmint (2012, a good year) proved to be more popular with it's clean almost honeyed fruit. The final Cru wine, the Oremus, had a cherry like nose, was well balanced, complex and with a milder acid the earlier wines, clearly it needs more time.
       The final two sweet wines were the ones we were all waiting for. Neither disappointed. The Patricius, late harvest (60-90 grms sugar per litre) was luscious, but with a cleansing light acid finish. The Sauska Aszu eqally luscious and muscaty. Both rated the best of the evening.
       Charlotte provided us with meatballs as nibbles and a main course of very morish shin of beef casserole accompanied by roast potatoes and peas.Then chocolate espresso cake. Frank de Mengel supplied us with a superb selection of his personally baked breads throughout the tasting:- - Date and Walnut Wholemeal and Rye flour, Multigrain seeded Wholemeal, Rye and Spelt flour, POlive and Tomato, and finally Foccacia.
        Altogether, a very enjoyable and enlightening evening.

The Wines
Aperitif: Degenfied: Sparkling Tokaji Furmint Extra dry, Traditional Method 2011 22.00 6+
(1) Kardos Winery: Ziccar, Tokaji 3 Cepages 2013 12.00 6
(2) Sauska Winery: Tokaji Furmint 2014 10.00 7
(3) Erzsebet Pinsec Zafir Tokaji Premier Cru, Harslevelu and Furmint 2011 15.00 6
(4) Degenfield: Terezia Tokaji Grand Cru , Harslevelu 2012 11.00 7
(5) Erzsebet Pinsec: Kiraly Tokaji Premier Cru,Furmint 2011 15.00 7+
(6) Oremus: Mandolas Tokaji Grand Cru , Furmint 2012 18.00 7
(7) Patricius: Katina, Tokaji Late Harvest 2013 14.00 8+
(8) Sauska: Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 40.00 8
The supper wine :
Gal Tibor: Titi, Egri Bull's Blood