Over the past month or so, I have delved deeply into my wonderful experience in Hungary. I guess when you are so moved by an experience you want to share it all, every moment of it! I hope you are still craving more, because I have one more experience to share with you.
In early December, after posting some photos on social media about my trip to Hungary, I received an email from Professor András Palotás who graciously offered to provide me the opportunity to taste some of the premier wines of Tokaj. About a week later, I received 5 bottles from AM-Tokaj winery. Dr. Palotás is not only a physician and professor of neuro-science, specializing in Alzheimer’s dementia at Asklepios-Med (AM-group), but a founding director. As if that is not enough, in addition to these impressive credentials, he also established the AM-Tokaj winery.
Since I had tasted some wines from the Tokaj region while in Villány, I was excited to try some more and I knew exactly how I would experience it… with my family over the holidays. My parents came out to California for Christmas, (which I hope they continue to do!) and I figured this would be a great way to sit and relax while enjoying their company after the hectic days.
AM-Tokaj winery is an ultra-premium limited release family run winery that specializes in Tokaj-style blends. It is quickly becoming recognized as a premier winery that not only produces exceptional aszús, but also in the dry Tokaji. Their fruit is hand-picked from their vineyard that may be small but located on the historical highly sought after appellations on the south-facing Teleki slope. The vineyards, once owned by Hugnarian royalty is located in the heart of Tokaj and is considered restricted acres. The fruit, which is of course, hand-picked has produced wines that can be found in Michelin-star restaurants and luxury hotels and are considered to be among the best quality wines in the region.
They say that music calms the savage beast, but it also must inspire the grape. The fruit for these wines are feted with classical music 24-7. Yes, AM-Tokaj believes that since the vines are living organisms they can indeed hear and respond to the music. We know that plants respond to light, wind, temperature just as we do… so why not sound? Their belief is that acoustic vibration helps the vine repel mold, bacteria, parasites and predators and there is research pending to prove their theory.
Not only is Mozart played in the vineyards, but classical music is played in the cellars
throughout fermentation. Whether you belief in the sound phenomena or not, these musically raised wines have received global recognition for both the sweet and dry blends of Furmint and Hárslevelű.
Maybe it was the music that helped produce the wine, but both were ideal for sitting down and relaxing at the end of a long day. We paired these wines with simple dry roasted almonds. Both wines were golden in color the sweet wine had enticing aromas of honeyed almonds and orange blossom with a acidity on the palate that did not make the wine taste overly sweet. The dry Tokaj smelled sweet, but was dry on the palate with such fresh honeysuckle, I thought I was back in my childhood sucking on honeysuckle vines.
I am not a very outwardly religious individual. I believe that we need to be good to each other and that nature is a living entity; one we need to respect. A good life is one in which an individual cultivates balance and moderation and most importantly, what you put out into the world definitely comes back.
I did however grow up going to church and to Catholic school until 4th grade. (which is possibly why I am so against people dictating how you should be religious) So, I am not one to tell others how to live their lives religiously or otherwise and am open to listen to other religions.
The Accipite label are wines that are altar wines. AM-Tokaj are unique in the fact that they are one of the last remaining wineries in the world dedicated to producing authentic sacramental wines. I was surprised to see these wines in bottles and available to the general consumer. In order to be a sacramental wine, it can have no preservatives, flavoring or colors. However, sulfites used in the winemaking process are acceptable.
Sacramental wines can be either red or white and sweet or dry. There is no stipulation on grape variety or on minimum ABV but can not exceed 18%. The wines are made in the exact way other wines are produced, but after meeting the requirements, they are then blessed. AM-Tokaj offers their altar wines at a special discounted rate to parishes around the globe.
I have to admit, I was a bit leary when tasting these wines. My memory of altar wines is not a good one. I remember being excited to be going through the sacramental studies so that I could finally drink the wine during church. (That might have been a tell-tale sign of my future as a winelover) During my first mass that I was able to receive Holy Communion, I approached the altar with a giddiness, accepted the host and then moved to the right to get my first sip; and the smile on my face turned quickly to a squeamish grimace. But I was pleasantly surprised upon taking my first sip. The sweet version was unexpectedly fresh with floral aromas. On the palate a pleasant citrus zest. The nutty flavor of the dry wine was not at all what I remember from my church going years.
The Absolutio label is a dry Furmint. As I have mentioned, dry Furmint is not on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Absolutio is leading the way in the Tokaj’s ongoing campaign to remind people there is more to Furmint than just sweetness.
A blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű produced using traditional techniques, Absolutio is a natural wine that has just the right amount of Botrytis to entice the consumer. On the nose, the expected honey and almond, followed by flavors of honey and apricots, is full and rich with a dry finish.
If you are interested in finding out more about AM-Tokaj or to place an order for yourself, please contact Professor András Palotás at [email protected] (they can ship anywhere). You don’t even need to be a church to order the Accipite. In fact your purchase helps the winery offer that wine to the clergy for an extremely discounted rate. (It’s always good to drink for a cause)
I mentioned earlier that I had an incredible experience in Hungary in November. I had so much to say about my one week there, I wrote three additional posts. In part one, I talked about how visiting Budapest and learning about its history truly affected me. I saw images of what the people had to deal with and heard first hand accounts of how property was taken and people were murdered. To know that these occurrences happened in the not so distant past was astounding to me. The second post focused on my visit to Villány, where I was a guest of the Franc and Franc International Conference. I was there to discuss Cabernet Franc in California and was treated to visiting several of the region’s wineries. In the third and final post of the series, I talked about the oldest wine region in Hungary, Tokaj and the categories of wine made there.
Dracaena Wines now has a Wine Club! We named it the CHALK CLUB. Draco is on our label, but Vegas was getting a little jealous. So we decided he deserved to be club spokesdog. In Las Vegas, betting CHALK means you are betting on all the favorites. We are betting that we are one of your favorite wineries, so we thought the name was apropos. The club is simple yet a bit different than most. When you wager on us, we will ship you three bottles of wine twice a year; once in April and once in September. You can choose all red or a mix of red and rose’. You immediately receive 15% off ALL your wine purchases but what makes our club stand out is a progressive discount. Let your club membership ride into the next year, your discount increases. Each year you parlay your membership, you receive an additional 5% off up to a plan maximum of 25%. Your club shipments are discounted. Flat $15 shipping PLUS we’ll cover your club shipping cost for your second shipment. That is $15 house money in a sure bet for you! So please head to our website; www.dracaenawines.com/chalk-