Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JAN-FEB 2016

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Te beautiful capital city of Hungary is Budapest. Buda and Pest were once separate cities physically divided by the Danube River; they are now unifed by several bridges, including the lovely Chain Bridge, making it easy to go back and forth between the two. Budapest is safe, very afordable, lively and home to just fewer than two million of the 10 million people living in Hungary. A member of the European Union since 2014, Hungary is located at the juncture of numerous cultures of Central Europe. Spend two or three days in the capital city, but allow the same amount of time if not more for the classic wine region of Tokaj. Tokaj is a mere two- hour drive from Budapest in the northeastern part of the Hungary. Tis is exactly what I did, and I am thankful for it. Budapest, but in particular Tokaj, is quickly recovering from the stifing communist regime, which ended in 1989. Before this time, Tokaj had long been well-known as a high-quality classic dessert wine region. Te dessert wine Tokaj Aszu has been said to be a wine of kings and a king of wines. Nevertheless, we are going to save Tokaj Aszu for another day and talk about the dry wine revolution that is underway in Tokaj with the indigenous Furmint grape leading the way. Dry Furmint is emerging as the standard barrier for dry white wine in Hungary. Tis white wine is showing huge potential and it should, as they simply do not make red wine in Tokaj. Furmint possesses everything you would like about a dry white wine – refreshing crisp acidity and vibrant fruit such as lemon, apple, mandarin orange and apricot, all in a medium-bodied frame with a balancing bitterness that is both refreshing and structure-adding. It takes to very light oak treatment well or is delicious without it. Te region of Tokaj became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. I certainly agree, as it is a naturally beautiful place, from the confuence of the Bodrog and the Tisza Rivers, to the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains, which add a generally hilly topography that lends itself to the terraced vineyards and beautiful vistas. Tere are 27 villages in Tokaj, and you may see them on the label. Te mostly likely and important trio is the eponymous Tokaj, Mad and Tarcal. Most of the wineries are small, family-owned and operated. In this historic area it is ironic that the oldest winery we visited was just 23-years-old, with the average age of the wineries visited being just under 13 years. Given that private ownership has been allowed just since the fall of communism in 1989, it is truly remarkable how far the region has come. Despite the youthfulness of wineries, the region is riddled with a vast matrix of caves dating as far back as the 15th century. Some of the caves are less then six-feet- tall, while others exceed 12-feet in height. Some are short in length and concise, while still other caves are a labyrinth and would require a map to successfully traverse. Most are snapshots in time complete with the legendary black mold, which for the most part is allowed or even encouraged as it helps maintain a consistent level of humidity. Tokaj, Hungar y Written and photographed by Scott Harper, Master Sommelier 60 slmag.net

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