The Szekszárd Schieber winery’s jack of all trades in perpetual motion Veronika Simon bit off more than he could chew when he went through with his idea connected to a label which involves so many things that it really needs a few comments.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the name of the wine: Obsitos (from the German word ‘Abschied’), the enlisted soldier who received a letter of dismissal after 12 years of service. The word is still known today in the Hungarian language, although not in current use, you’re more likely to come across it in old stories. What’s more, Obsitos is the name of a poem written by the poet János Garay (1812-1853), which is perhaps his most well-known poem. It’s an interesting yet sad fact that although Garay’s name is preserved in several institutions and public places, the average Hungarian really doesn’t know who he actually was.
Of course, the situation with wine lovers is different, given that Garay was the first to write the Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) word in connection with wine in 1846 in his Szekszárd drinking song poem! Which is just why the average Hungarian wine consumer has perhaps heard more about Garay than others, perhaps even knows that the poet was born in Szekszárd and gave the name Bikavér to wines from here, but (!) unfortunately this does not alter the fact that his most famous poem, the Obsitos, does not come to people’s minds until they hear the name of the main protagonist. But then...
The Obsitos recounts the story of a boastful soldier, János Háry, in verse. The author puts the ancient literary type, the swaggering, serving soldier, into a Hungarian setting. The source of humour in the poem is not only the bragging series of boasts by the protagonist, but also the picture of the environment, characterised by his wonderfully gullible audience.
A brief example from the stories:
János Háry beat whole armies single-handedly, he went even beyond the seven seas, the French lived in dread of him and he also went to the ends of the world, where he swung his leg into space. Though his greatest deed was to capture the great Napoleon. He called himself a Hussar, although he took part in all the military campaigns as a foot-soldier, but that didn’t bother those in the inn, who listened open-mouthed to all his stories. It turned out from the foot-soldier’s story that two hundred Hungarian hussars had beaten 200,000 French.
|The French were already running like chicory in the wind,
After them the Hungarians who nearly drowned them!
|Futottak már a franczok, mint szélben a katáng,
Utánok a magyarság, hogy szinte fulladánk!
Well, János Háry is so much more a part of Hungarian folk psychology, tales and common talk than any politician has ever been or will be. A film has been made of the story, an opera composed, but it only became known on an international level thanks to the composer Zoltán Kodály’s János Háry suite, which was successful and world famous.
What kind of wine will end up with the Obsitos label is still in discussion; it’s said that the decision rests in the hands of the wonderful wine writer Chris Boiling! However, it seems certain that on the one hand, the label is impossible to interpret outside Hungary and on the other, in Hungary requires some serious background reading. This could also be understood as educational, seen this way, we definitely welcome it. We hope that the label will reawaken interest in Garay, the Obsitos, Kodály’s music and the tale of János Háry...