A cellar of note

My head is easily turned. Some would say I’m fickle. Mapping the direction of my conversation would be a challenge. I have a tendency to rhapsodise. On the few occasions I’m overcome with enthusiasm for something, I border on the evangelical. And when I discover something, or somewhere, or someone I really, really like, the world and its mother has to know.

I was introduced to Sándor Szogedi on a recent trip to Noszvaj. I’d gone to mass (wrong service, wrong church, different experience) while the others went to see the castle and the cave dwellings. They were to come back and meet me in an hour when I’d done praying for all our sins. Instead, I got a phone call. They’d found their church – the Gazsi Pince.

&&8It wasn’t by accident. My friend had sampled a red wine from the Gazsi cellar some time ago and knew it was resident in Noszvaj. They went to check it out and when they found it closed, she called the number on the gate. The ever-amenable Szogedi agreed to open up and let them taste his wine.  And it was there I eventually found them, lauding the merits of a rosé that apparently was the best anyone had ever tasted.

While I’m prone to exaggeration myself, I don’t find it becoming in others. I was just a tad sceptical and more than a little contrary that sunny Sunday. So I decided to ignore their urgings and go with one of the cellar’s 12 wines – a dry white 2015 Leányka. And I was impressed. Very impressed. Bottled from grapes from vines planted back in 1982, it’s certainly a ‘young lady’ of note.

I tried another, a 2014 Királyleányka. And the descriptive that came to mind was intriguing. I’m convinced that wines have personalities. A lot of them are simply boring. If they could speak, their conversations would be dull and uninteresting. I could relate to the Királyleányka – it caught me unawares. I liked it, too. A lot.

The others had moved on to the reds so I was catching up. Curiosity got the better of me and I gave in. I tried the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon rosé. Since discovering the virtues of rosé back in Wimbledon, UK, some dozen years ago, I have only once tasted anything that came close. I don’t have the vini-vocabulary to describe it so I’ll revert to the prosaic – it was bloody brilliant.

I’m not one for red wine. I had an unfortunate encounter with a bottle of port when living in Anchorage, Alaska, many moons ago, an incident that left me scarred for life. Even sitting next to an open bag of wine gums turns my stomach. But I was on a mission. And I tried both the dry Cabernet Sauvignon and the sweetish Turán. And if the rosé and the white ran out, I could drink either.

Szogedi, too, is a rather remarkable man. In a country where customer service is still in its infancy, he has nailed it. Eschewing the usual retail channels, Gazsi wines are sold directly to the consumer. Relationships are established. The family is extended. With just two hectares under vine, they buy in grapes from other growers and then work their magic. Their run is small – perhaps 6-8000 bottles a year plus the barrels dispensed in 2L and 5L plastic bottles. Their wine tastings can be coupled with a four-course meal in the cellar, something that’s now officially on my list of things to do. And with delivery runs to Budapest three times a week, putting wine with a personality on your table has never been easier. Introducing others to the delight that is Gazsi is a bonus. Check them out at www.gazsipince.hu

First published in the Budapest Times 17 June 2016


7 replies
    • Mary
      Mary says:

      Sigh. Big sigh. Your comments regularly express doubt as to my intelligence. You seem to take delight in pointing out my errors. It’s a free world, you can say what you like. But this I take exception to. If you read the piece again, you might see that I was referring to my initial stubbornness in not trying the rosé they were all clearly enjoying when I arrived. I know the difference between red and rosé.

      • stcoemgen
        stcoemgen says:

        I am well hearted to read you know what a Rosé is.

        But consider this: When in graduate school, as a TA, the most frequent comment from my students, when I corrected their technical papers was when they said “but that is what I meant”, to which I said, “that may be true, but that is not what you wrote”. And then I would help them tighten up their writing.

        And I actually read your piece many times, and tried to take it from many angles, but still came up with that opinion. Also as I use to say to my students, “Even it you think you said what you wanted to say, and even if your friends agreed you said it, if an impartial critic saw it differently, then you need to tighten up your writing so no one can doubt what you meant.”

        And, by the way, suggesting I did not read it “again”, assuming I did not, might be considered that you are doubting my intelligence. 😉

  1. stcoemgen
    stcoemgen says:

    “You seem to take delight in pointing out my errors. It’s a free world, you can say what you like.”

    Side note:

    You can consider a harsh critic as simply a mean spirited, spiteful troll and PITA.

    Or someone who thinks you could do better, and simply chooses to take the so called baptism by fire approach to challenge you.

    You are free to decide which I am.

  2. Jeremy Wheeler
    Jeremy Wheeler says:

    I’ve had a look at Kevin’s blog, and all I can say is “mote and beam”.

    Keep up the good work, Mary, and don’t take criticism to heart, especially when (in this case anyway) it seems to be motivated by jealousy.

    • stcoemgen
      stcoemgen says:

      Jeremy, interesting analysis. Yet, do you not then, ironically, judge me by the same standards that you are claiming is my fault (which is what “mote and beam” refers to)?

      You view my blog, but think you know me. You do not. FWIIW, I love facts. And I actually have no problem being judged if I get facts wrong. That is part of my scientific training where facts should be put above personal ego. If you find I made unclear of factual errors at my blog, feel free to correct me. It is no problem. If you are right, I admit it. If I was not clear, I admit my error, and try to clarify. In fact, I did so even today: http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=582055#3260847. The issue is not about being “wrong”, or making unclear statements, in general, but rather if it is a consistent, or commonly repeated, issue, and how one handles being corrected.

      And, so, as another example, what exactly do you think I have to be jealous about? IMHO, saying a critic is “jealous” about something is really a tired, overused, keyboard warrior diatribe mostly evoked in the absence facts about the other.

      Rather, if you wish to criticize me, I would accept it if you simply said I do not suffer fools gladly. (Corinthians 11:19) I do not find this inaccurate. And if I have to atone for that personal view, then so be it, and it is a matter of my conscience.


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  1. […] for us though was the chance to catch up with our wine buddy Sándor Szogedi at Gazsi Pince. We’d last visited back in 2016 but were regular customers when living in Budapest (he delivered to the city twice-weekly). Plenty […]

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