Day 241: Tokaj Wine RegionOctober 13, 2017 in Hungary
Still feeling awful today, very clogged and tired - not much sleep due to coughing and nose running. Plus our hotel room was very stuffy and warm; we ran the air conditioner on cold all night but it's designed as a heater so it doesn't do much. And of course we couldn't open the windows because the houses directly across the road were home to a bunch of barking dogs who would constantly set off Schnitzel.
So we set off into the wine country: tired, sick and irritable. Found a few vantage spots to film and talk, amongst pretty vineyards and with nice little buildings scattered around. It's interesting since the Tokaj hill is basically the first hill north of the plains, so driving just a little way up meant that you could see for miles across endless fields and grazing country. Cool.
The reason it's UNESCO listed is because this is one of the first places in the world where stringent QC requirements were imposed on the produce. The local sweet wine (aszu) is made from grapes afflicted by Noble Rot (ie botritus), and was declared to be the official wine of the King of Hungary in the 1760s I think. So for it to be his official wine, very strict standards were enforced on the growth and production of the wine. Interesting step.
Another cool thing about the wine here is that since it's so cold in winter, the cellars are all dug into the volanic hills to keep the temperature consistent. We drove out to one spot where there were scores of cellars dug into a hill, though most of them looked disused now.
Got our filming done by mid-afternoon and headed back to the hotel where I had another nap and Shandos had a swim in the hotel pool. Last stop for the day was of course, wine tasting! One of the largest cellars in town was just nearby, so we booked in for that at 5pm. Interesting to note that unlike in Australia, wine tasting usually costs money and is by appointment rather than just turning up. Less pressure to buy I guess.
So we turned up and were shown down into the old wine cellar which was a phenomenal space. They didn't even know how old it was, just that it was first mentioned in the 1500s in a document that indicated it was already old at that point! And there was something like 1500 metres of tunnels running off the main hall, all used for storing wine. Though not anymore, they have a proper modern facility for doing that elsewhere in the region of course.
We tried six wines, all white and mostly very sweet - even the non-dessert wines were sugary! I didn't mind as I generally prefer sweet wine over dry, but I don't think Shandos enjoyed it as much. Had a nice chat to the girl running the tour as well, and took some good footage. Eventually we left (without purchasing) and had another dinner in our hotel restaurant before turning in.Read more