Some introductory thoughts to begin with. The village of Mád is located in Hungary, in the Tokaj region. Over the last decade, it has clearly become an engine for development, perhaps making the most important steps forward of any wine region.  This is largely due to such large estates as Royal Tokaji or dedicated producers like István Szepsy.

In 2007, these producers joined together and founded the Mádi Kör association for the protection of designation of origin. Their goal from the beginning has been to adopt even more stringent internal rules than those of the country itself, in order to ensure the highest quality of its members’ wines. They are exclusively concerned with the vineyard areas in Mád, constantly trying to reconcile the centuries-old protection of designation of origin system with today’s practices.

Currently the association has 14 members.

The members’ vineyards cover 21 of Mád’s 27 vineyards, but vineyard selected wines are not produced from them all. There is a tripartite system of protection of designation of origin. The foundation is the village level wines (like the ‘villages’ wine from Burgundy), which currently appears on labels as MÁD. The next step comprises the vineyard selected wines, whereas the highest level is the parcel, where wines are produced separately from small, individually selected units within often larger vineyards.

Mádi Kör maximum yields:

  • village wines - max. 7,000kg / hectare
  • vineyard-selected wines - max. 4,000kg / hectare
  • parcel wines - max. 3,000kg / hectare

Age of vines:

  • village wines – at least 6 years
  • vineyard-selected wines – at least 8 years
  • parcel wines – at least 10 years

Mádi Kör’s rules for the production of aszú

Every year, the Mádi Kör publishes by 31 December whether aszú will be produced in that vintage. The members only produce 5 and 6 puttonyos aszú. The aszú berries are macerated for 24-36 hours. The pressed aszú wine is then fermented and matured in oak barrels in the cellar. The wine is aged for at least 2 years in 136-500 litre Zemplén oak barrels. 

Now a few words about the tasting. The occasion was part of the usual autumn Furmint Celebration event. The winemakers themselves presented mainly dry wines from the 2013 vintage, as well as a sweet wine in most cases, to some 400 interested people. I am not usually a big fan of such ‘walkaround tastings’, which on one hand give you the best opportunity to taste as many wines as possible, but on the other, do not provide ideal circumstances for making a professional evaluation. So, I mainly tried all the dry wines and made tasting notes, but dispensed with giving points. After the event, I called into the Zsirai Winery. You can read my notes about it too.

Lenkey Furmint 2012
Medium body, taut structure, vibrant acids. Black pepper, minerality and a little anise on the nose. Considerable tannins, apple, citrus and vanilla on the palate, a bit Burgundian in style. Long finish. Excellent!

Áts Furmint 2014
Citrus, stone fruits and wet stone on the nose. Medium-light body, bone-dry impression due to the zesty acids. Mostly citrus on the finish, very dry finish.

Áts Szent Tamás Furmint 2013
Moderate on the nose with some stony aromas, white flowers and peach after some air. Medium body, crisp acids and good barrel management, apple, quince, cinnamon and sweet fruit on the palate. Medium finish.

Úri Borok Szent Tamás Furmint 2013
Nice minerality, but grated apple and a little oxidation on the nose too. Reflected on the palate, with apple and walnut. Medium body, vibrant acids, but there is also citrus and walnut on the finish.

Úri Borok Szamorodni dry 2009
Typical scent – meaning like sherry in this case - with apple, walnut, green spices and hazelnut. Medium body, taut structure and lively acids. The aromas are reflected on the palate. An attractive wine!

Szent Tamás Pincészet Percze 2013
Full-bodied wine with fresh acidity. Ripe fruits, apple, gooseberry and minerality on the palate. Serious wine with long finish. For experts!

Szepsy Szent Tamás Furmint 2013
Very complex on the nose, mineral, thermal water and phosphorous. As it opens, the spices reveal themselves, especially anise and cloves. Full-bodied with elegant acidity and tannin structure, ripe citrus and peach on the palate. Well-balanced, endless wine. Wow!

Budaházy Furmint 2013
Interesting on the nose with chalk, peach and white flowers. Medium body, taut structure, crisp acidity. Peach, citrus and black tea on the palate. Good representative wine.

Holdvölgy Király Furmint 2013 (Intuition No.3.)
White flowers and sea air on the nose. Vibrant acidity, medium body, apple and a range of other fruit on the palate. Gripping!

Mád Hill Furmint-Hárslevelű 2013 (barrel sample)
Little bit raw on the nose with smoke, smoked bacon and woody aromas. Intense acidity, harsh tannins, smoked aromas on the palate too, fruit in the background. Too young!

Orosz Gábor Nyulászó 2013
Quince and white peach on the nose. Medium body, fresh acidity and fruit on the palate. Well balanced and very drinkable.

Tokaj Classic Furmint 2013
Not too complicated on the nose. Light body, sour acidity and citrus on the palate. Almond and bitterness on the finish.

Árvay Isten-hegy Furmint 2013
Dried fruit and flint on the nose. Crisp acidity, medium body, taut structure. Citrus on the palate and bitterness on the finish. Too young!

Royal Szent Tamás Furmint 2013
Sweet fruits, peach, red apple and minerality on the nose. Fresh, elegant wine with taut structure and medium body. Love it!

Barta Öreg-Király Furmint 2013
Citrus and crisp minerality on the nose. Medium body, zesty acidity, but perhaps a little raw. Citrus on the palate and, minerality on the finish. Maybe a little too young to show.

DemeterVin Király Furmint 2012
Black tea with forest fruits on the nose. Medium body, dried fruits on the palate, but overall a little flabby.

Zsirai tasting notes

84-85 Sárgamuskotály 2014

Characteristic of the variety on the nose with white flowers and ripe grape but without any perfume. Simple, playful and fresh wine with tonic water notes in the finish. Easy drinking, a real summer hit!

85-87 Középhegy Furmint 2013
Tangerine, smoke and orange peel on the nose. More breadth than depth on the palate with medium body and a salty finish.

87-88 Betsek Hárslevelű 2013
Linden blossom and propolis on the nose. Vibrant character, lively acidity, peach, apple and white flowers on the palate. Complex and well-balanced wine. Great job!

90-92 Aszú 6p 2008
In another league to the previous wines. Wonderful complexity on the nose with barrel spices, tobacco, dried fruits, dates and cocoa. Firm tannin structure, rounded acids, dried fruits, pineapple and citrus, minerality and a hint of tobacco on the palate. Attractive, well-balanced wine with warming character.

         Photo by Studio Bakos