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Winery #89: Tokaj-Hétszőlő (Tokaj, Hungary)


Our memorable cellar tour and tasting at Tokaj-Hétszőlő led by our host Máté began with a short introduction to the estate. At the same time, Brodi rehydrated with a dish of water graciously provided by the winery team. The estate dates back to 1502, when the Garai family selected the best and most unique seven parcels of land on the south side of Mount Tokaj for their vineyards. The name Hét-szőlő in Hungarian translates to "seven parcels of vineyard." Michel Reybier, the French hospitality legend, currently owns the estate along with Bordeaux's Cos d'Estournel, the location of our favorite wine experience ever. I knew we would be in for a treat!


Continuing the experience, Máté led us down a long ramp descending into the cool, dark cellar beneath the tasting room. We were amazed at the expansive underground tasting room with corridors connecting to other rooms. Our host showed us historic wine artifacts dating back hundreds of years, including various harvesting baskets and an ancient grape press. We then moved to the main room, where we would sample the estate's range of wines.



As Máté gathered the wine, we had the opportunity to sample the famous Hungarian cheese biscuits called Pogácsa. Generally, we save any food accompanying our tasting to the end of the experience. If you're following along with the Hungarian blog posts, we absolutely cannot resist the Pogácsa! Our host also brought us a lovely pad for the wooden seating, adding to the comfortability of our experience. Máté poured us ten wines ranging from dry to sweet, made with Hungary's famous Furmint or Hárslevelű white grapes. At the end of the tasting, our host mentioned that we could further upgrade our experience to taste the ultra-rare Eszencia wines. Without hesitation or asking the price, we said YES! After our first experience tasting this type of wine in Budapest, we now had the opportunity to taste two more Eszencia wines.


Although "toe-curling" is not a descriptor found on the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Wine-Lexicon to describe wine, I'm using it to describe the 2001 Tokaj-Hétszőlő Eszencia. I wrote in my tasting notes from our experience: "Just amazing-> not wine, something much more." We could smell the wine from a meter away as Máté meticulously measured a portion from the bottle pouring into our tasting glass. I still have difficulty putting the wine's taste into words to this day. We'll let you taste it for yourself:-) How was this wine made?!?!



According to our host, the winemaker places the Botrytis-affected grapes described in the previous posts into a small tank. The weight of the berries causes a small amount of highly concentrated juice to trickle out of the tank, referred to as the free-run juice. The winemaker collects this syrupy liquid and separately ferments it from the rest of the wines. Due to this liquid's extremely high sugar level, it can take years for the sugar to turn into alcohol, only reaching around 5% alcohol by volume. The resulting wine shows outstanding balance as the high acidity from the white Furmint grapes provides refreshment to the extremely sugary wine. Due to the variability over the years of Botrytis affecting enough grapes to produce sweet wine and the extremely tiny amount of free-run juice provided through the winemaking process, Tokaj-Hétszőlő made only 1,000 bottles of Eszencia during four harvests out to the last 30 years. Considered by enthusiasts and collectors as highly rare and fetching $3,000 per bottle for the 2017 vintage, Petrus in Burgundy's Pomerol region produces between 25,000 to 30,000 bottles per year. Hopefully, this adds some perspective!


500 Wineries wants to send a big THANK YOU to Máté and his team for the fantastic wine experience, ranking among the top 25% of our last 97 winery visits. If you find yourself in Hungary, visiting Tokaj-Hétszőlő is worth the detour!

See the YouTube Video of our wine experience here!

Experience Rating: 4 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 3 Paws Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Production Facilities Tour, Cellar Tour, Cellar Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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