Some meetings are very difficult to arrange. This was one of those meetings, since it has been organised for at least seven years, I have promised several times to pay my respects to the hermit of Csobánc, but somehow things never worked out that way. I was all the more delighted when this year it finally happened!

I headed up the Csobánc, past Villa Tolnay, until it was hard to stay on the road, and then a little further. There, in the upper region of the former submarine lava flow - which nowadays corresponds to the summit of the witness mountain - is the Von Beöthy cellar, where János and Annamária await thirsty wanderers.

Szenvedély 2017 I 90 points

A deep golden cuvée of Furmint and Chenin Blanc. The nose is restrained and spicy, with a hint of petrol and pollen. The big body is balanced by vibrant acidity, and the palate has a touch of sweet resin alongside the citrus. Long, lively, super!


Chardonnay 2020 I 91 points

Medium gold colour. The nose makes you chew back at first, roasted hazelnuts, smoked ham, spices. Full bodied, lively acidity, the palate is vanilla, pepper and smoked meat again. A flinty note emerges on the almost endless finish. Not a wine for beginners, that's for sure!

For those of you who have made it this far and are lucky enough to run into János, I would advise you not to ask for high alcohol wines, because to the host it's like red postage. By his own admission, he has thrown out a group of Chinese visitors who have taken alcohol levels as a measure of quality, so from that point of view I don't think he would get on too well with one of the perennial sommelier champions, who he was recently quoted as saying on a programme, that high alcohol meant that the grapes were top quality, ergo the wine was too, and encouraged people to look at the alcohol on the back label in the supermarket if they didn't know the wine, so it was the easiest choice.

Kurucvér 2018 I 90 points

Perhaps a slightly paler ruby colour than medium. On the nose it has cherry and lemon, sour cherry and dark chocolate, with a hint of raspberry in the background. In the mouth, medium body, brisk acidity, explosive fruit bomb. Wow!

La Passion 2018 I 89 points

Deep ruby colour. The nose is at first glance lush and lively, like the banks of the Danube estuary on an early summer's day, fleshy and blackberry, with sweet spices and herbs. Tasting it, you get big body and firm tannins with lots of black berry fruit. Still young!

My second piece of advice is that if János is in a good mood, don't run away from the conversation! (Maybe you can't, I haven't tried...) After all, looking like a wise grandfather because of a rare, exciting and extraordinary life, which includes everything from a career as a domestic disc jockey to an organic meat farm in Germany to cocktails with Michelin-starred chefs, János has plenty of stories from his life. The thirsty wanderer is just amazed, at first he may even suspect a candy camera, but then he surrenders to the pleasure of listening, as János Beöthy tells his story in a way that few others can. A Kurdish storyteller from Diyarbakir is lost in it!

La Passion 2017 I 90 points

Deeper than medium ruby colour. Nose of cherry and punch, raspberry and Madagascar chocolate. The palate is rounded, with silky acidity and a persistent fruitiness. Tight structure, long finish. It seems to be at its peak now.

I must admit, manly as I am, I was captivated by the performance and the conversation, which is why it took me so long to write about it. Sometimes you need a certain distance to write. I'm used to it, I often start writing after a visit, at the airport, but this time it was different. As I turned down the  Mount Csobánc into the pitch black night after hours of conversation, the host's voice kept echoing in my head. By the time I reached Gyulakeszi, the rain was pouring down, but I just couldn't concentrate on the road.

„That won't change the world, but it's not the world we have to affect, just our own environment. We are responsible for ourselves alone."

said János, and I, tasting his wines, hope that all domestic winemakers will slowly, if not surely, get to this point.

Kadarka 2020 I 93 points

A deeper than medium ruby colour, like a stallion in a glass. On the nose, raspberry candy and violets, spicy cherry preserves, pepper and lovage. On the palate medium+ body, firm tannins, round acidity, and a driving momentum on the palate with a mix of fruits and spiceness. It's crazy, with this wine János has found the Holy Grail of Kadarka!

Petit Rhone 2018 I 95 points

Medium ruby colour. Nose of cherry and ripe apple, plum and a little smoke, cherry and hazelnut. Tasting medium body, round acidity, ripe and muscular tannins. On the palate, it's a school of ripe fruitiness, complex and dynamic, sometimes juicy, sometimes turning into a stony-mineral line, from where you can plunge back into the fruit after a moment. The finish is endless, not yet at its peak!

In retrospect, sitting on the Csobánc and tasting these wines, I felt like the lucky flute player in Rimay's poem:

'The world is round, round as a ball, / Seldom changing, he who has caught it with his hand, / And feels good in it, / And is merry, for he likes the goods he has received'

In this poem, Rimay (1570-1631) pays tribute to Galileo, since it was there, during his years in Venice, that the great scientist was experimenting and discovered that the Earth is indeed round. He had to have known Galileo, but all I had to do was visit the Von Beöthy cellar in Csobánc. I hope it won't be another seven short years before my next visit...