Terra benedicta – Tokaj and beyond
„Hungarians, with very good reason, have always been proud of their deep-rooted wine traditions. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, under communist rule these traditions faltered and, in some cases, all but disappeared.
Now, as the wine industry emerges from this period of mass-produced, low-quality wine made from high-yielding and easily-maintained vines, Hungarian winemakers are reaching back to their past for inspiration.
It is not a question of simply trying to recreate this past. Few of the wines made sixty-five years ago would, perhaps, satisfy the increasingly sophisticated tastes of the new millenium. As economic circumstances alter, fashions change – and wine is no exception to this rule. Rather, Hungarian winemakers are rediscovering their traditional grape varieties, cultivating them increasingly in accordance with the viticultural norms that are now taken as standard almost the whole world over, and are beginning once again to make wines which reflect the individuality of these grape varieties.
Their names are wondrous to behold – and sometimes very difficult for non-Hungarians to get their tongues around: Csabagyöngye, Ezerjó, Hárslevelű, Juhfark, Kéknyelű and Leányka, not to mention modern cross varieties like Irsai Olivér and Cserszegi Fűszeres. However, as western tastes for the grape varieties that have been so successful over the past quarter century – most notably, Chardonnay – begin to get a bit jaded, these wines, which are increasingly to be met with beyond the borders of Hungary, present a wonderful (export) opportunity to respond to the emerging fashion for new and different tastes. And, as Hungarian wines become better known to western enthusiasts, it is natural that they will be curious to know more about them.”
Alex Liddel – Foreward of the first edition of TERRA BENEDICTA – TOKAJ AND BEYOND