The SOMM Journal

February / March 2017

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Page 61 of 116

{ } 61 { } 61 by Allyson Gorsuch / principal photography by Ferenc Dancsecs ndoubtedly, visiting a wine region always results in a better comprehen- sion of the wines. Speaking to local winemakers and viticulturists, seeing and walking through the vineyards, smelling the flora and tasting the local cuisine all allow a deeper understanding of a region. It was such a treat to spend three days immersed in historic Tokaj*, learning from industry leaders, along with ten diverse wine professionals from across the U.S. The Szent Tamás Winery invited us for an in-depth study of the Mád village and surrounding vineyards and to introduce us to the fact that the dry wines produced from native varieties can compete with the best dry whites in the world if given the opportunity. The long history of the Tokaj wine region places it being mentioned as early as the 13th century. Esteemed for its sweet wines, the Szent Tamás Winery and Mad Wine aim to show - case Tokaj's potential for quality dry white wines as well. The most notable native varieties of Tokaj are Furmint and Hárslevelu˝ while Sárgamuskotály (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Kabar, Kövérszo˝lo˝ and Zéta may be included. István Szepsy Sr. began making dry Furmint in the early 2000s, but István Szepsy Jr., now 18th-generation winemaker, has taken the idea to a new level. Experimenting with single-vineyard expressions, individual yeast strains, different clones and trellising techniques, Szepsy Jr. reveals, "With the minerals and the acidity, these wines age beautifully and can stand up to the best Rieslings, as far as I'm concerned. I believe dry Furmint can be a world-class wine and the new taste of the world." Geological Breakdown The region of Tokaj encompasses 5,500 hectares (13,600 acres) of vineyards within 27 villages in the northeast corner of Hungary. A total of 487 named crus exist with 52 con- sidered Grand Cru. The village of Mád, the commercial center, consists of 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres with fewer than ten percent planted) on 27 crus, six of them Grand Cru. The region lies at the confluence of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers in the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains, found within the Carpathian Mountains. The volcanic geology of Tokaj gives the region its distinctive viticultural benefits of unique minerals and deep roots. Hundreds of volcanoes make up the basin, and it was the com - bination of volcanic eruptions and spring water that formed the bedrock and soils—soils The bedrock of the vast majority of Tokaj is rhyolite. The clay minerals include, most importantly, zeolite as well as bentonite and kaolinite. Goat, a regional pleasure, is divine with the Szent Tamás wines. *Tokaj is the region; Tokaji is the adjectival form of Tokaj. Touring Historic Tokaj A row of historical wine cellars in Hercegkút, Tokaj, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we visited the Götz family. A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE WITH MÁD AND SZENT TAMÁS VINEYARDS AND WINERY U

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