It was our first trip with the baby. A real test to see how long he could manage being in the car. At 2 months old we figured it was time for him to get used to being on the go; we like to travel and the sooner he’s accustomed to road trips the better.
An hour and a half car ride each way, the village of Mád in the Tokaj Wine Region isn’t particularly far from our house on Miskolc’s west end. It’s far enough, however, and wine tasting isn’t exactly an infant compatible activity. András and Phyllis Bruhács of Tokaj Classic Winery had kindly invited me to come and visit again. An offer too sweet to refuse.
Last spring my father and I made the trip to Mád and met the Bruhács’s for the first time. While they reside in Germany, their winery Tokaj Classic produces some of the most luxurious Aszú around (Wine Spectator has given them multiple 90+ scores). Interestingly, besides at Tokaj Classic, their wines aren’t even available for sale in Hungary. Yet one can find them in the USA and Canada, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Finland, Ireland, France, Brazil and Costa Rica. The world famous Harrod’s of London also carries their ’99 Aszú.
András, who’s Hungarian, is a retired concert cellist. Phyllis is a New Yorker who’s spent much of her career working in Germany. Tokaj Classic occupies prime real-estate on Mád’s Rákóczi Utca, and the estate holds plots on two Grand Crus: Betsek and Király. In total their winery harvests 7 hectares of land. Local Imre Galambosi is the man behind the wines and a bonafide Aszú wizard. This was my dad’s introduction to Tokaj and the often misunderstood world of sweet wines. He was impressed from the first sip.
This time around my wife Anita came along. And of course, Benji, our latest addition. It was a glorious sunny afternoon when we arrived in Mád. Phyllis and András were there waiting, welcoming and hospitable in their own quiet way. We tasted seven wines in their rustic, cozy tasting room; a place of wood, stone and artwork painted by Phyllis’ father. Bottles of Tokaji Esenczia rested in gleaming glass cabinets.
Predictably, 2 month old babies and wine tasting don’t particularly jive. Especially when the baby in question slept the whole car ride and is now wriggling around like a just caught fish. It’s OK, he’ll get used to it.
For more about Tokaj Classic in depth: Tokaj Classic: Sweet Symphonies in Mád
Tokaj Classic, April 4th 2017
2011 Sárga Muskotály
Thin, pale yellow color in the glass. Fresh floral nose…maybe acacia? Light bodied of course, with focused acidity, the slightest hints of apricot and short stone fruit bitterness to finish. Not really a varietal I seek (my wife’s favorite) but this would hit the spot on a hot summer day, no doubt.
2015 Mád Betsek Grand Cru Furmint
A Furmint heavyweight contender. Last year we tasted their 2012 Furmint which I liked well enough. This time around, however, I’m all in. András emphasized how meticulously selective they were when harvesting these grapes from the Betsek climat. Lemon-lime, green apple and flinty nose. In the mouth you’re hit with a medium-full bodied, well balanced wine. Acid, minerality and a lime zest bitter finish converge. Some floral and herby notes also tie in, creating a strikingly complex Furmint which rubs shoulders with some of the best I’ve had. Went home with a bottle of this.
2007 Tokaji Late Harvest (75% Furmint, 20% Hárslevelű and 5% Sárga Muskotály)
Golden colored. Hints of straw, grass and herbal aromas. Rich flavors of apricot and peach with a hit of stone fruit pit bitterness.
2013 Prelude Szamarodni (12% alc., 165 gr residual sugar)
Herbaceous and grassy aromas as well as the smell of straw on a hot day. An undefinable wildflower component to the nose as well. Full bodied in the mouth with dried apricots, lychee, pineapple and a honey coated bitter finish.
2013 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú (11.5% alc.)
Golden straw colored with citrus and floral nose. Leaning towards a syrup-like viscosity in the mouth, yet not overwhelmingly sweet. Nice combination of lemon, nut and date flavors.
1999 6 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú
From what I’ve been told the 1999 vintage was one of the best in living memory. And in this Aszú one can certainly discover why. To begin with, creating Aszú wines is an incredibly labor intensive endeavor. Not to mention that the necessary climatic conditions for botrytis don’t develop every vintage, meaning some years there’s no Aszú to be had at all.
Deep amber color, a striking contrast to the 2013 5 puttonyos. On the nose you get this intense dried apricot, rusty, herby and medicinal rush. Rich, full bodied in the mouth (what else?) with incredibly vivid acidity and notes of nuttiness, raisin and bitter apricot pit. There’s an earthiness to this wine that gives a backbone to the long finishing ribs of honeyed sweetness and lemony acidity. This treasure could certainly be renamed ‘Ambrosia’ as its worthy of the Greek gods themselves.
1999 Tokaji Furmint
Aromas here are almost those of a sweet wine—honey and wildflowers. On the palate however you’ve got a much different experience: almonds, oxidized bitterness, rounded acidity and mushroomy qualities. Last year I really liked this wine, this time around it seemed slightly off. Perhaps hard to impress after a 99′ 6 puttonyos Aszú. I’ve still got a bottle in my basement (I wouldn’t have you believe that I’ve got a wine cellar. It’s a basement full of junk that also houses some wine bottles). Anyhow, I think it’s time to drink this one before it gets any weirder!
For winery visits and purchasing:
Rákóczi u. 45, 3909 MÁD, Hungary
Tel: +36 20 323 4467
Fax: +36 47 348 201