On 7th August our dear friend Tamás Dusóczky, Grand Maitre of the Confrérie de Tokaj died in a tragic car accident near Szegi.

He had arrived the previous day to prepare for the presentation of his book as part of the Zemplén Festival. The event will be held at 6 pm on 15th August in the Old Palace of the Rákóczi Castle in Sárospatak. 

The Conférie is inviting all members to participate in the event to bid farewell to our friend Tamás.

Dress code: Confrérie scarf, Confrérie dress if you have it

Tamás’s funeral will be held at a later date in Mád.

Dusóczky Tamás

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140 foreign representation open their doors to the Confrérie de Tokaj

An interview with Helga Gál, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade by Mathilde Hulot

Gál Helga

You’ve been travelling a lot to expand the notoriety of the Hungarian wines. How did you succeed in being the senior advisor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 

Although I was brought up in a rural environment with my family, in North-East of Hungary, it’s in Italy that I’ve grew up concerning the wine culture. My brother, Tibor studied winemaking at the university and went to work in Tuscany. I followed him and discovered the great vineyards belonging to big families, Antinori, Frescobaldi, and so on, with the respect and the knowledge transmitted through generations. It was very new for me. Meanwhile, I learned Italian, than English.  My brother founded his winery in Eger (Hungary), in 1993, later on, I came home from Italy and I also started a to work as a sommelier in the Gundel restaurant in Budapest, in 1996. Then I travelled around the World, as an export manager, first working for Tüzkö Winery (that time called European Wine producers, Eurobor) still belonging to Antinori. After this I represented in many international wine exhibitions a group of producers (Tiffán, Gere, Bock, Tibor Gál, Szeremley, Árvay, Szepsy) belonging to the Pannon Winemakers Guild, created in 1998. With the death of my brother this period ended in 2005. It was a huge tragedy for this small wine community; it was hard to restart without him…  

From here on I was working as an advisor and I worked also from 2008 until 2010 in a cruise ship in the United States of America, called Celebrity. When I came back to Hungary, I was hired by the Ministry of Agriculture, at the same time Hungary took over the Presidency of the European Commission. Ending the presidency I was asked to continue this activity at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That’s how I became the wine and gastronomic advisor for the Ministry. My job is to promote Hungarian wine and gastronomy throughout the World. We can say that our ministry is the biggest “exporter” of Hungarian wines with nearly 140 countries!


Gál Helga

What happens when, as a Hungarian Wine Ambassador, you pronounce the word Tokaj in a tasting in London or Tokyo?

Tokaj is really famous and this name is everywhere is well known. People don’t always know that it’s in Hungary though… They put it somewhere on the map in Europe. Behind the word Tokaj, they know the word Aszú, they associate it to sweet wines, noble rot, but most of them don’t know the difference with Ice wines and mix it with Spanish or Portuguese dessert wines many times. That’s why we organize tastings and explain the specificities of each wine.

What is your vision of the Confrérie and its activities since its new start in 2012?

It’s a beautiful concept that needs first of all to be understood by the producers themselves participating in the Auction and the members of the Confrérie. Altogether, with the help of every single member, it’s a tool that can bring Tokaj very far. I was amazed when I saw that a huge part of the international wine World was missing at the last Auction! This event should bring as much clients and wine consumers and buyers in Hegyalja. As a Wine Ambassador, I suggest that the wines of Tokaj should be represented in many countries. To achieve this, with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hungarian Embassies will open their doors welcoming the activity of the Confrérie. Let’s start a new era.


Presentation of Tamás Dusóczky’s book at the Zemplén Festival

Dusóczky Tamás

„Elmondhatom, vagyok” (I can say, I exist) written by Tamás Dusóczky, Honorary President of the Confrérie de Tokaj, will be presented at 6 pm on 15th August in the Old Palace of the Rákóczi Castle in Sárospatak.

At this celebratory presentation writer and journalist András Kő will talk with the author Tamás Dusóczky. Born in Budapest in 1931, his ancestors were famous: his maternal grandfather, Ferenc Kirchknopf, participated in the rowing eights at the 1908 London Olympics and his paternal grandfather, Károly Dusóczky, competed in the first Hungarian public athletics competition in 1875. As a young man he studied to be a physicist but he was sent away from university in his third year as his parents were resettled. He became a road bicycle champion and in 1954 set a world record for 500 kilometres. In 1956 he left Hungary and settled in Switzerland where he started to work with computers and became a top businessman. In 1993 he came home to Hungary and bought vineyards in the Tokaj Wine Region that had once belonged to his ancestors. On his arrival he was voted Grand Maître of the Confrérie de Tokaj.

With Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz – vocals

Entry is free!

Hedonism throughout the ages in the charm of wine

An article by Dr. Emese Lovász, archaeologist-museologist.

Well, of course, wine has featured on the list of the greatest pleasures for centuries… but let us not return to the ancient Greeks, let’s begin in a time and place that is closer and tell the tale of a people who are alleged to have drunk away an entire empire. We’re talking of the Avars who in the 6th century were the first to unify the Carpathian Basin divided as it is by the Danube, thus establishing the Avar Khaganate. Their fierce warriors kept the enormous Byzantine Empire in fear and forced them to pay 20 000 gold pieces in tax every year. Incredible strength and wealth that contemporaneous Russian chronicles record were pulled to ruins due to disagreement and excessive alcohol consumption… although it could be said this was purely malicious rumour, born of jealousy, as since that time only bad wine has been produced there.

Mindenkori hedonizmus a bor bűvöletében
Map: Avar settlements, Between 567 and 680, Between 680 and 805, The border of the Avar Kaganatus at the end of the 7th century

Let us move on a little to our conquering ancestors’ adventure in Sankt-Gallen when the single naïve monk who remained in the monastery described the Hungarians who were ravaging the area as especially good people. Having drunk the barrels they found in the cellar, in their boisterous good mood they span into dance and even climbed the church tower (believing the sparkling metal roof to be gold) – and the monk ate and drank with them more than he had ever before in his life.

Next is a king who caused the Árád House line of kings to die out: Ladislaus IV (Kun László IV) who, due to his uncontrollable temper, only felt good among his beloved Kun people. He didn’t sleep with his wife, even when the lords contrived to lock them in a room together but with his wine-stinking head he spent the time with his three (!) Kun lovers. And how did he die? That’s right, by the hand of his favoured people…

Mindenkori hedonizmus a bor bűvöletébenWhat wines did they drink in the middle ages? A customs record created in the city of Esztergom dated 1288 lists the wine regions of the time. Where was Tokaj at the time? Zala, Somogy, Sokoró, Buda and the famous Syrmian white wines are top of the list. And only white wines, as just one red grape is mentioned, the “wild black” or “jackdaw”.

The court priest noted that King John Sigismund Zápolya, a sickly ruler who loved wine, once said: “Oh dear oh dear, where have we come to…. We’re drinking red wine too!”

Illustrations from the time show that vine cultivation and preparations for harvest were not so different from today. Nor was what happened when someone looked into the bottom of the glass more often than they should have…

Mindenkori hedonizmus a bor bűvöletében

We can also talk about famous drunks. For example, Count Ádám Batthány who at the age of just 17 was awarded the title of chief cup bearer at the court of Louis II of Hungary. We should not be surprised at records showing an average of 3.5 litres of wine ordered for his lunch, but if he was in a good mood then 74 litres were drunk at the 12-person table…

It was written of ruling prince of Transylvania Mihály Apafi that: “He drank a bucket of wine (about 11 litres) but he never got drunk, he only took off the velvet high hat and, as though he was exhausted, the power of the wine steamed out of the top of his head… and after that he drank even more!”

As well as the enormous drinking sessions, the stomach was also called on to work in the old feasts: one who was able to eat all that was a man indeed. All kinds of roasts followed one another with sweet and sour sauces, cabbage dishes, breads, cakes, cheeses, and many types of fish could swim happily in the wines and beers.

Surviving menu cards with lists of the dishes from the early 20th century record for us the luxury of pleasures. In October 1926 the International Hotel Society held a reception evening with a menu that was “international” – and that would well praise the imagination of a top chef today.

Mindenkori hedonizmus a bor bűvöletébenAmong the wines is one that deserves special attention: a 5 puttonyos Aszú made in Tolcsva in the vintage 1889! Sweet, incredibly flavourful, wonderful delicateness – are the tasting notes for the wine that was 37 years old at the time and may have aged in the barrels of the Dessewffy-Görgey-Szirmay Vine and Cellar Company.

The refined decadence of life, wines and noble sparkling wines, the country estate, hunting, great shows of hospitality… The aristocracy as a class of society disappeared in Hungary within just a few years after 1945 – and with it it seemed all that had come into creation in so many areas of life over the centuries was gone. It seemed the wine culture of the Tokaj Wine Region had been lost too…

However, in a period that has lost its values and assets, there is a burning need for the old examples that evoke the memory of a liveable, caring life…

Record total hammer price at fifth Great Tokaj Wine Auction

Press release dated 25th April 2017Great Tokaj Wine Auction 2017, Tokaj Spring – Press Release – Auction – Confrérie de Tokaj.2017.04.25 pdf

Record total hammer price at fifth Great Tokaj Wine Auction

The Great Tokaj Wine Auction on Saturday 22nd April closed with a final total of 116 000 EUR (36 083 500 HUF), an increase of 20 % on the record to date. All lots but one were sold. Nóra Winkler, auctioneer since the first Auction, noted, “When we started the first Auction, we had high expectations – and we are exceedingly happy where we have come to and where we are going!”

Photo of Auctioneer Nóra Winkler

It is encouraging to see increasing interest in the sweet wines which made the region so famous. The Szepsy Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2011 went for a record 38 710 Euros, that is over 140 Euros a 0.5 l bottle. The London-based Top Selection Ltd already has buyers for the 270 bottles from Sweden to Hong Kong. Exciting bidding took the 2013 Aszú collection (commercially unavailable) by up-and-coming young winemakers Tokaj Generation Y up by a quarter. Dry wines also show a marked increase on estimates and starting prices. Good examples which were sold at significant increases are Kikelet’s Váti-dűlő Hárslevelű 2016, Samuel Tinon’s Szent Tamás Furmint 2016, Szent Benedek Birtokbor 2006 and Tokaj Hétszőlő Hárslevelű 2016.

Photo of bidding at great tokaj wine auction 2017

5th Great Tokaj Wine Auction
Anticipation was tangible in the auction room as bidders raised their paddles to secure their exclusive lots. All contemporary Tokaji wines, the overwhelming majority of these limited wines were single-vineyard and/or the main Tokaj varietals, Furmint and Hárslevelű. The highest proportion of lots ever sold (over 95%) indicates growing interest in the distinct terroirs and confidence in the rapid increase in overall quality since the end of cooperative state agriculture 25 years ago. As reference winemaker István Szepsy explained in his opening address, “Quality is based on knowledge, and we are already at the next level. Consciousness of the region’s characteristics, varieties, terroir, aszú berry development can always attain higher reaches. And this assists in positioning our wines. A wine’s value moves a region forward, and there is a clear need to establish the value. The Auction plays a very important role in this repositioning.”

Buyers at the Auction held in the Tokaj Cultural and Conference Centre, included wine merchants and private buyers from Hungary and abroad, in person and by phone. Wojciech Bońkowski, wine writer and editor of Polish wine magazine Winicjatywa, came with the first crowd-funding initiative to buy wine for readers of their popular magazine and was delighted with his purchase of Kvaszinger’s 2016 Furmint from Meszes vineyard saying, “I’ll definitely bid at the Auction next year. I’ve got a taste for it – and it’s really exciting!”

Participating wineries range from individuals and small emerging family wineries to larger, more established estates, some owned by companies with impressive international portfolios: Barta, Demetervin, Disznókő, Grand Tokaj, Kvaszinger, Holdvölgy,  Kikelet, Márton  Birtok,  Myrtus,  Pajzos  Tokaj,  Samuel  Tinon,  Szent Benedek, Szepsy, Tokaj Hétszőlő. Lots range from dry Furmints and Hárslevelűs to varietal Aszús and Esszencia, plus two selections: Tokaji Aszú by Tokaj Generation Y and Tállya Horizon, dry wines from Tállya Wines producers.

The Confrérie is all about community and vice-president Samuel Tinon embraces this, offering 10 % of his Aszú Esszencia lot sale to the nursery and primary school in his village Olaszliszka. So, income from the Auction only supports the Confrérie’s work but also producers’ immediate environment.

The pre-Auction blind tasting in the Tokaj Wine Museum provided a playful way to explore the wines and challenge preconceptions about producers’ wines, thus refining tasting abilities. The 24 lots offered by both established and up-and-coming winemakers gave a great opportunity to discover new vineyards and wineries and so explore the various styles of contemporary Tokaji. Thus the weekend event is the perfect chance to get the real, up-to-date picture of what is happening in production, producers and the market in the Tokaj Wine Region.

Photo of Blind tasting before great tokaj wine auction 2017

Excitement as Tokaji lovers gathered to celebrate Tokaj Spring
Curious guests from different countries came to discover the budding life in the historic Tokaj Wine Region which is emerging with great vibrancy after a period of hibernation lasting through half the 20th century. A 14th-century cellar, a 21st-century theatre, museums, mansions and, of course, the vineyards were among the venues where people strengthened links at the exclusive three-day Tokaj Spring event. It is playing a leading role with events that draws Tokaj(i) lovers together, bringing them closer to the land, the winemakers and their wines.

The main pillars of the weekend were the Great Tokaj Wine Auction, Tokaj Fair, intronization of new members, gala and wine dinners, and a cultural day exploring the mansions of Tolcsva. Guests appreciated this unique opportunity to explore the Tokaj Wine Region from within, in close contact with winemakers. This is a complex programme which supports the Confrérie’s aim to present Tokaj and its wines and to participate actively in the region’s evolution.

1st Tokaj Fair
An exciting new addition to the programme was Tokaj Fair, the largest ever Tokaj tasting in the Tokaj Wine Region which included three masterclasses. Sharing their wines were forty wineries of all sizes, including those belonging to producer associations Tokaj Renaissance and Mád Circle. The well-attended masterclasses were a tasting of dry Furmints 2013 sold at previous Confrérie Auctions led by wine educator Gabriella Mészáros AIWS and the Tokaj Renaissance presentation of their 2013 Aszú wines by Ronn Wiegand MW/MS. Delighted by the overall increasing quality of Tokaji wines, Ronn noted these unique wines are still exceptional value, drawing comparisons with Napa Valley’s rise. President of Tokaj Renaissance Sarolta Bardos said, “Producers are delighted about holding the Aszú vintage presentation in Tokaj for the first time. This is where it belongs, and visitors – professional and amateur alike – will better understand the wines by being here in our region.” Riedel also held a Furmint glass masterclass.

Exploring the stately homes of Tolcsva
The village of Tolcsva in the centre of the wine region has seen several impressive renovations in recent years and Tokaj Spring came to explore in Sunday’s events. Visitors enjoyed wine tastings, jazz, tours, talks and colourful brunch at the Szirmay-Waldott mansion museum which gives insight into aristocratic family life around 1900 and the Helia-D Herbal House which explores herbs in beauty products. New Confrérie member István Matyasovszki invited guests to his Kincsem Mansion which is in a splendid setting with an incredible view over the region and floodplain at its feet. These chilled-out events in imposing venues built in the golden age of Tokaj were the perfect way to close the weekend together and show some recent major investments and developments here.

The next Tokaj Spring will be held from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd April 2018 thanks to mayor of Tokaj and new Confrérie member, György Posta, who extends the invitation for the Confrérie to organize the event at the same superb venues next year. The Tokaj Fair on Friday 20th April 2018, the Great Tokaj Wine Auction on Saturday 21st April 2018.
For more information please contact Katherine Chapman
Tokaj Spring – 3-day event celebrating and developing the rejuvenation in this historic wine region classified in the 18th century and declared a closed appellation in the world (placing it among the first in the world) in 1737, the Tokaj Wine Region was designated part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 2002. The Auction shows clearly that it is stepping into its next stage of rejuvenation after the major restructuring and changes in the 1990s. The Confrérie’s Tokaj Spring aims to bring guests close to winemakers, to explore the terroirs and their wines, to strengthen the community of Tokaj lovers. All set on the strong foundation of friendship and veneration of the region and its wines.

Confrérie de Tokaj
All members share love and respect for Tokaj and its wines, an appreciation of the region’s unique volcanic/loess terroirs and a curiosity to deepen their understanding. The pride of becoming a Confrérie member was tangible, as was their commitment to the Confrérie mission to introduce the pleasure of Tokaji wines to contribute to friendship and understanding between people. The Confrérie de Tokaj aims to give public access to the enormous intellectual and spiritual history that envelops Tokaji wine. Learn more:

Hammer prices – Great Tokaj Wine Auction 2017

The Great Tokaj Wine Auction on Saturday 22nd April closed with a final total of 116 000 EUR (36 083 500 HUF), an increase of 20 % on the record to date. All lots but one were sold and will go to Hungary, France, Germany, Poland and the USA. Nóra Winkler, auctioneer since the first Auction, noted, “When we started the first Auction, we had high expectations – and we are exceedingly happy where we have come to and where we are going!”

Download the results for the Great Tokaj Wine Auction 2017: hammer prices – pdf

Here is the info a a jpg

Blind tasting lots revealed

After an exciting blind tasting this morning in the Wine Museum in Tokaj, the “which wine is which” is revealed by Gabriella Mészáros.

The list of the starting price and order of the 2017 Auction lots combined with the blind tasting can be downloaded: blind-tasting-codes-revealed-2017

Tasting notes by Wojciech Bonkowski @polishwineguide on our twitter.

You can also view it as an image: