The rooms at Gróf Degenfeld Castle Hotel were very comfortable and we all slept very well most likely because this was the first time on this trip that we were able to sleep in a bit. We met downstairs in the dining room for breakfast, which offered some buffet and menu service. Rested and contented with a good breakfast, we ventured out. The first thing was to satisfy the curiosity of what are new surroundings looked like, so we took a look at the grounds of the hotel and then hit the road.
The first stop was in the nearby town of Mád to visit the Royal Tokaji Wine Company. The drive was very short and very picturesque. We conldn't have asked for better weather.
We were met by the managing director, Istvan Turoczi, who set up a special tasting for us in the courtyard, which is adjacent to the famous bust of Hugh Johnson. The bust sits directly under the canopy of a very large horse chestnut tree, which was full of nuts. Chestnust abound in the area.
Istvan began by telling us about the company's history, facts about vintages, and changes that have taken place over the past 20 years. Then the tasting began. We sampled the best of what the Royal Tokaji Wine Company has to offer, which was a lot ranging from dry to sweet and all white. The wines were all fantastic!
After the tasting Istvan took us into the cellars to show us their new production facilities and told us a few things about the green design.
Next up was a visit down in the wine caves. Istvan walked us over to the enterance to the cave cellar. It looked more like a cemetary crypt or mausoleum. we walked down the stairs into the tunnels dug deep into the earth. The temperature dropped as we decended and we could feel the dampness of the humidity and see its effects by the mold growing everywhere. The cold and damp caves are very important to the proper storage and aging of the Tokaji Aszu wines. The caves were amazing and really gave us the feel that this craft was certainly a very old one.
Back above ground, we found ourselves with much more appreciation of the history and work that has gone into this rare tradition of wine production in Hungary's famed Tokaj. We gave Istvan our sincere thanks and bid him farewell, as we had an afternoon appointment to visit a very small producer just a few blocks away.
We made a quick stop inside a small grocery market across the street from the Royal Tokaji Wine Company. We were hungry in Hungary, so a few drinks, some amazing fresh sweet rolls, and a few cold cuts graced our shopping bag. We quickly noshed and then drove to our next stop at the Szepsy winery. We were met by Istvan Szepsy who owns his family winery Szepsy. Istvan first showed us his basement cellar and production facilities, then invited us into his home to taste some of his wines.
We were impressed with the Szepsy wines. The Király and Szamorodni varietals were woderful examples of how good Hungarian wine can be however little known they might be in the wine worlds. Now it was time to move to our next stop. It was another short drive to the Disznókő winery, which was very close to our hotel. We pulled in. parked, and then walked up to the tasting room. We took a look around as we waited for our host to arrive.
There is a small cave cellar dug below the tasting room, so we went down the stairs to take a look. This cave cellar is mainly used as a tasting area and banquet hall. We found it to be a great place to host a dinner party.
After viewing the cellar, our guide Anita lead us through the vineyard behind the tasting room and up the hill to see the some of the vineyards and the amazing views surrounding the Disznókő estate while giving us some background on the operation and history of the winery.
After taking in the incredible views, we walked down to the winery where we were met by László Mészáros, director of the Disznókő estate. He introduced us to the facilities and gave us background on the winery design.
This is the Tokaj of Hungary, so there was yet another cave cellar to see. László lead us into the Disznókő cave cellar. We were all amzzed at the quantity of bottles in the cellar and at the Essencia production. In a few winery visits and some focused tastings, it was becoming very clear how unique and special the Tokaj wine region actually is.
Now it was time to sit and taste a selection of Disznókő wines. This was our third wine tasting of the day and we were begining to see that although the Tokaj wine region is famous for its sweet wines, it produces some excellent dry wines as well.
Dusk was creeping up on us as we finished the wine tasting at Disznókő and we still had wine producer number four to visit.
We were off to the town of Sárazsadány just north east of Tokaj Hill. It grew dark during the 20 km drive. We only had an address and a mention that it was across from a church and an market. As we got close to the town it grew pitch black dark as there were road lights. When we drove into Sárazsadány it looked like everyone had already gone to bed. We couldn't find our destination from the directions, so we turned to our trusty GPS unit. She got us close, but we were still not sure which house we should dare try to impose on. Darrell got out of the car and walked up the driveway of a home we felt was the best guess as none of the homes had address marks. Darrell was successful. We arrived at the home of Samuel Tinon. Darrell learned of Samuel Tinon through his pre-trip research. Samuel invited us inside to taste some of his wines. Darrell took interest because he read good things about Samuel's work with the Szamorodni grape variety. Furmint and Hárslevelű are considered the prime varitals of the Tokaj. Szamorodni is the varietal that gets no respect. Samuel's vision is to show that Szamorodni is certainly a variety that can bear great wine.
Here's a video of the tasting and discussion between Darrell and Samuel. We've shot an incredible amount of footage on three continents during the past 3 years with out any serious technical issues. This video was resurrected from an SD card which became corrupt. It is a tiny bit choppy in a few spots, but certainly very interesting.
It was well after 8pm when we gave our thanks to Samuel for the tasting and said our goodbyes. Now it was tiome for dinner. Darrell and I hadn't eaten since the early afternoon rolls and cold cuts from the market in Mád. Esther and Jimmy did grab a small nibble at the Disznókő borház (wine bar). We were all starving. Istvan Szepsy recommended a restaurant in Mád, which he is involved with. He also made us a reservation. We arrived late and were the last partons there, but the staff at Gusteau (Mádi Udvarház ) still prepared a wonderful meal for us.
It was late when we finally made it back to the Gróf Degenfeld Castle Hotel. We had a lot to see and do in the morning, so after a bit of unwinding from the very concentrated day, it was off to bed.