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Kősziklás Borászat Juhfark 2016

Kősziklás Borászat Juhfark 2016

Enjoyed at the recent #winelover hangout in Bucharest, the 2016 Kősziklás Juhfark sports a classic profile of walnut skins, almond and, perhaps a touch of lemon pith. Medium-bodied and angular, fruit is not the focus, nor is it the soul of this wine. The real joy lies in the unfolding of its arching, rocky spine, where one can find quarry dust and flint in abundance, and a striated band of smoky sea salt. Kősziklás Borászat 9.0 Points...

Szent Tamás Hárslevelű 2012

Szent Tamás Hárslevelű 2012

Mad is the second label of Szent Tamás Winery, and both are masterfully crafted by 18th generation winemaker István Szepsy Jr. Like Furmint, Hárslevelű is indigenous to Tokaj, it differs from Furmint in that it's lush as opposed to linear, and generously fruited. As a blend, it forms the mid-palate. Here, it shows of oxidized notes. Baked apple, walnut skins and a lush center of gravity that gradually narrows in focus, expressing bitter almond and grapefruit pith along with the region's characteristic minerality. Sample  Szent Tamás 9.1 Points...

Szent Tamás Dry by Tokaj White 2015

Szent Tamás Dry by Tokaj White 2015

I had the pleasure of visiting the Szepsy family last fall—the time spent with them gave me insight into why the Tokaj region, famed for its sweet wines is now transitioning to more dry-style offerings. The Dry by Tokaj, an entry level in their portfolio is the color of straw, with vivid aromas of bosc pear, lemon drop and jasmine. The region's signature minerality is more pronounced on the palate than on the nose in this bottling, one that is tangential to the focused vein of acidity coursing through the center. Szent Tamás 9.0 Points...

Mád Village

Tokaj’s New Golden Age

How a quiet revolution in Mád will change the way think about Tokaji. [caption id="attachment_11444" align="alignleft" width="450"] István Szepsy Jr demonstrates roots burrowing through soil layers.[/caption] To visit Tokaj is to pull back the curtain on an extraordinary place, an ancient place that, at first glance, appears frozen in time even as the region embraces change. Storybook houses cluster together, defining this village from that; only the town church spire rises above a jumbled roofline, glinting pale gold in the early morning light. The warm hue of the terracotta roof tiles echoes the Venetian red volcanic soils that are common in many of Tokaj’s Grand Crus. These, I explore with my guide, István Szepsy Jr. István is an 18th-generation winemaker. He speaks carefully and thoughtfully, like his father. He’s armed with technology, while steeped in old knowledge—the mutual evolution of generations of winegrowers and autochthonous grapes over centuries. For me, this place is a reference point, a means of understanding the purest expression of terroir. István takes us through the back roads, which in the village of Mád begin abruptly—there are scarcely more than 2500 inhabitants according to the most recent census. Our first stop is a local quarry; it’s en route to a...

King's Vineyard, Tokaj

The Wine of Kings Has a New Successor

Why Dry Furmint will be the Next Big Thing   [caption id="attachment_11462" align="alignleft" width="300"] István Szepsy Sr. Gazes at a map of the Tokaj region.[/caption] This problem is one that the region’s vintners are acutely aware of, and, perhaps for the first time in decades, Tokaj is ready to reinvent itself. István Szepsy Sr., the region’s most acclaimed winemaker, has seen tremendous upheaval during his lifetime. His son, István Szepsy Jr., elaborated on some of the sweeping changes the family faced: “Everything went well until the end of the 19th century. The first big problem was when phylloxera hit in the 1890s. Our clay is close to the surface; we have conditions phylloxera thrives in. It completely obliterated the wines.” On the heels of phylloxera came the Communist occupation. “After phylloxera, everything collapsed. Tokaji wines disappeared from the map for nearly 100 years; within five generations, our culture and knowledge were lost.”When we think of Tokaji wines, we imagine Aszú, a honeyed elixir, a glinting treasure chest of apricot preserves, marmalade, quince, forest honey and that most compelling note of smoky, terroir-driven expression that is both indelible and unique. It’s vivid, pure and crystalline, a balance of acidity and glycerol richness that borders...

Szent Tamás Teleki Palack Tokaji Késői Szüretelésű 2012

Szent Tamás Teleki Palack Tokaji Késői Szüretelésű 2012

I suspect, giving this wine's lushness, this is Hárslevelű or a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű. Lemon yellow in the glass with opulent notes of apricot and ripe mango, honeysuckle and a classic botrytised nose. It’s full and viscous on the palate with plump apricot at the core followed by cardamom and Seville orange marmalade. The minerality is not as pronounced as in some of the Szent Tamás’ vineyard designate wines, there is, however a lovely vein of acidity to keep richness in check. Sample Szent Tamás 9.2 Points...

MÁD Tokaj Dry Furmint 2012

MÁD Tokaj Dry Furmint 2012

One of the bottles I brought back in my luggage, the 2012 MÁD Tokaj Dry Furmint is exactly as advertised, bone dry. Furmint is a non-aromatic white, in this style what shines through is complexity and minerality. Nuanced aromas of walnut skins, burnished pear, golden apple and a sort of golden-hued, bordering on oxidative noblesse that I enjoy so much in aged Champagne. It's equally nuanced on the palate, with texture that communicates depth, subtlety and soil. Pomace and chalk and clay. Bitter almond. White grapefruit rind. It's all there. 13.0% ABV | Sample MÁD Winery 9.1 Points...

Szent Tamás Tokaji Nyulászó 2013

Szent Tamás Tokaji Nyulászó 2013

More Hungarian splendor—the 2013 Szent Tamás Nyulászó boasts a wonderful inner luminescence. Quietly elegant notes of bosc pear, almond, orange marmalade, and quince are the hallmark of this single vineyard designate. Nyulászó is one of Tokaj's grand crus, and the vines are seated in brick-hued volcanic soils rich in zeolite, at the crest of the South-Zemplén Mountains. Aging in Hungarian oak has gifted this blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű with softly glowing transparency and texture. Minerality shines through. 13.0% ABV 3.1 g/l RS | Sample Szent Tamás 9.2 Points...

Szepsy Tokaji Szent Tamás Furmint 2013

Szepsy Tokaji Szent Tamás Furmint 2013

What a tremendous gift to taste the legendary Szepsy wines with István Szepsy Sr., while visiting the Tokaj region last week. The wines are impeccable, as is the case with the Szent Tamás Furmint 2013. Pungent aromas of quince and orange, one might call this wine pretty, were it not for its serious underlying structure. Minerality, tightly wound, ricochets through intense, capacious layers, homing in on the finish—a final volcanic, terroir-driven, granitic burst that makes these wines so compelling and unique. Szepsy Winery 9.2 Points...

Szepsy Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2008

Szepsy Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2008

My first Aszú, and what better way to taste it than in the Tokaj with István Szepsy Sr., a 17th generation winemaker. It's amber colored and viscous with magnetic aromas of marmalade and dried apricot, fleshy quince, burnt caramel, nutmeg and dust. On the the palate, this wine's considerable gravity, a honeyed elixir with an RS of 280 g/L has density, and yet, there is lightness and elegance too, felt along an acidic spine that is complicated by flinty smoky notes, crushed stones, walnut skins, and wild mushroom. Sample Szepsy Winery 9.7 Points...