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The Good Life in Aggtelek National Park Part 104: Trip to Tarcal

kikelet pinceOn a slightly overcast and rainy Sunday last week we made a trip to Tarcal, near Tokaj in the Zemplén Nature Reserve, to celebrate the August 20 Hungarian national holiday. On the way, I realised I knew one of the local vineyard owners, Stepanie Berecz of the Kikelet Vineyard. I sent her an sms on the way and she said the place was open and we could drop in. First, we took a steep hike up to the big Jesus statue that overlooks the town and gives a tremendous view over an amphitheatre, the Bodrog River, and the town itself. The hike up is lined by an abundance of flowers and herbs, and Kata had no qualms picking flower seeds for blessing jesus tarcalour own garden. Up at the top, I took a picture with my Jewish brother and admired the magnificent view.

Outside Kikelet is a tree decorated with ingenious leaves made from wine corks. Inside, we tried the 3-wine tasting menu for only 1000 huf. The first wine was a 2015 Tokaj Furmint, 12.5% and aged in oak barrels. A very fine wine, and probably the best we tasted all day. The second wine was a 2015 hárslevelű, 13% and aged in oak barrels, picked from the Kassai terroir. The last bottle was a delicious 2011 late harvest cuvee of hárslevelű, furmint, muscat blanc and zéta grapes whose initial dominant flavour is hárslevelű but finishes with wonderful oak. We would have bought a couple bottles but the prices, like most of the wines in the Tokaj Region, even at a discount, average around 3600 huf - sadly not in our budget. The prices for these were 3500, 4300 and 3500 respectively. A kikelet pincespittoon was provided, but some biscuits or pretzels or something would have been nice to clear the palate between wines. Very nice wines Stephanie, congratulations! We will be back!

At this point we were quite hungry and asked for a suggestion from the staff at Kikelet. Assuming the restaurants at Dagenfeld or the Andrassy Residence would be too expensive; I made the mistake of asking where a good vendéglő could be found locally. We ended up at her suggestion at the Tarcal Csarda, and had a thoroughly disappointing dining experience. The waiter was surly and the pizza cold and tasteless. We could not end our trip on such a sour note. We would have liked to visit the Zemplén Cheese Workshop, but it was closed on Sundays. We stopped at the first wine cellar we came to, which happened to be the well advertised Kovács and Sons. Two busloads of Poles had just pulled up, but we kovacs and son vineyard tarcalwere ushered in anyway and stood between the wine barrels as the Poles partied it up in the dining room. We tried several wines, including a dry furmint, a sarga muscatel, a late harvest, and even a 6 puttonyos (hod) aszú.

The tasting at Kovács was marred by the overpowering odour of a backed-up toilet. However, I very much enjoyed the dry muscatel which has a very interesting coriander or cilantro aftertaste. I bought a bottle of this for a surprisingly reasonable 1000 huf.