A Tokaj Adventure Part I
Jason Pack’s first instalment of a multi-part series of articles about the wines of Tokaj has just been published.
Like fine wine, a good anecdote should improve with age. The telling and retelling hones the narrative arc – helping the teller hit the punchlines. No non-fortified wine ages as well as Tokaji Aszú. At Berry Brothers in London and in the Tokaj region’s labyrinthine cellars under its most storied properties, wines labelled in German dating from the Austro-Hungarian period are only now hitting their peak of complexity – their once exuberant gold colour replaced by an evocative brownish-rust.
The following stories and tasting notes from my 2015 summer trip to Tokaj are only now ready for a public retelling, just as the current vintages I brought home with me 20 months ago are now approaching their drinking window. For many Western tourists, Hungary seems a place frozen in time, epitomised by the concrete jungle of Soviet era apartment complexes, rusting factories and aging infrastructure. But Hungary is actually a country on the move. New boutique hotels are springing up both in Budapest and in the wine country; Hungarian viticulture is becoming progressively more high-end and sophisticated as lower yields and new machinery are combined seamlessly with a return to traditional techniques that were lost during the Soviet period. Even politically, Hungary is a place where new and old cross-pollinate.
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