We took the 7:30am train from Budapest and settled in for the 2.5 hour ride. Greg picked us up and off we went to our first winery, Barta. Labeled as a “mid-sized hobbyist” the Barta family bought and replanted one of the oldest and most prestigious vineyard sites in the region, the “Old King” vineyard, in 2004. The site had been long abandoned and overtaken by the surrounding forest as no one wanted to put in the time and effort of cultivating by hand due to the steep terraces (quantity over quality was the name of the game throughout the communist era).
After a quick tour of the historic winery building we settled in to the tasting room by a roaring fire where Greg walked us through their offering. We tasted 10 wines ranging from dry to sweet. The wines were mostly made from the Furmint grape, a high acid grape that beautifully shows off the terroir of Tokaj (read about my first experience with Furmint here). Depending on the style it can range from fresh and light to honey’d with notes of apricot and fresh melon. We also tasted the sweet wine Szamorodni which must be made from 1 of Tokaj’s 6 authorized grapes, it can be made either sweet or dry in style.
Greg pulled out a handful of those famous botrytised grapes, full of “Noble Rot” for us to taste! Like the sweetest raisin you’ve ever had.
Next up, the wonderful world of István Szepsy, one of the more world-renowned Tokaj producers. István rarely does tastings himself anymore, but we were lucky enough to actually meet him as he was dropping off some wine at Barta!
His daughter Kinga has created a restaurant and tour and tasting option that offers the full “world of Szepsy”. Greg instructed us to get in to our own Gator tractor and follow him out to the vineyards. We stopped at 3 different vineyard sites and tasted the wine from that site, such an incredible experience!