Mád and the surrounding hills and valleys hold a unique position in Tokaj- Hegyalja, also in the world of wine. The settlement dates back to the 15th century and was even at that time an important location for winegrowing and for the local and international wine trade. Its idiosyncratic and very much varied volcanic soil, its macroclimate, and microclimate made it possible to produce divers and distinctive style of wines.
Holdvölgy, Hungarian for ‘Valley of the Moon’ started off as a genuine birthday present. The owner is Pascal Demko, whose French mother asked him to find a few vineyard plots to her Tokaj-native husband. In 2004 whilst searching for the perfect vineyards, he bought a hectare, but as of now, ended up owning 26 hactare (65 acres) of prime vineyards, because he fell in love with the area. He owns 22 historic parcels in 7, originally classified in 1737, Grand Crus sites of the region. These vineyard sites are: Holdvölgy, Becsek, Nyulászó, Király, Kakasok, Dorgó- tető, Úrágya. Grape varieties are Furmint, Hárslevelű, Sárga Muskotály (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), Zéta, Kabar and Kövérszőlő.
The state-of-the-art winery built in 2012. It is an exceptionally modern establishment in seamless harmony with the rustic landscape of the dusty village. The whole operation and winery run as a privately-owned family business should be run, with a clear concept dedicated to quality. Lots of steel and glass, living roof, French chic are fitting in nicely with original Baroque outbuildings. Still you will be surprised when you enter the building. Clean-cut elegance and attention to details with award-wining wines and an ‘interactive’ cellar tour. The cellar experience, as they call it, involves you, with the help of a knowledgeable guide, to trying to find out which way to go for the next tasting point. It took a little while, but it was fun! Just to note, that interconnected cellar system is on three levels, has been continuously extended since the 16th century and measures almost 2 km in length.
The head winemaker at Holdvölgy is Tamás Gincsai. All vineyards are hand- tended, hand-harvested, separately vinified by using small steel tanks, old and new French and Hungarian oak to reflect the terroir of the specific site, in small quantities. They are known nowadays for their meticulously produced, quality- driven range of wines, like 6 puttonyos aszú, sweet Szamorodni, Cru selected dry Furmint, Hárslevelű and Sárga Muskotály in their specially designed bottles. All the traditional stuff you would expect.
Furthermore, they have established an easy-drinking, young and vibrant range called ‘Hold and Hollo’ (Moon and Raven). It is an interesting and vastly unusual take on the traditional tokaji. Another ‘Spécialité de la Maison’ is their Tokaji Édes Birtokválogatás. It is an original signature blend of the chief winemaker, in which they are using all available types of wines from their cellar. The blend is formulated with Fordítás, Máslás, Szamorodni, Aszú, Esszencia with residual sugar equivalent to a 5 puttonyos aszú. It sums up their vision and capabilities as well as the potential of the region.
It was a very noteworthy tasting. I loved the vineyard selected Furmint and Hárslevelű. Their sweet Szamorodni was one of the best I have ever tasted and the Tokaji Édes Birtokválogatás was absolutely excellent! High praise indeed, coming from a person who is not into sweet white wine.
Photographs by The Tannin Addict.