Borfalu , Budapest (Hungary) .
Finding my way to Huba Szeremley , owner of First Hungarian Wine House , an estate in Badacsony also named Szent Orban, was my next move . At his stand , I looked at the people sitting and standing on both sides of the counter, trying to guess how the man looked like .I had not tried to google-image him prior to my visit and so I just asked about him to a sommelier . I was presented to Gabor Kardos, Szeremley's sales manager, a soft-spoken and cultured young man who speaks french fluently . Huba Szeremley was not far and we were presented . The man , in his 60s, has a beard and bright blue eyes . He simply offered me a seat at one of the tables there, and asked someone to bring some wine. I soon had a dry Muscat glass in front of me, very clear and aromatic . He asked me _in english _ what I wanted to know . Quite caught unprepared, I asked him since when he was making wine . He said since early childhood, as then , quite everyone in hungary was making wine, this was a family business and as a child he gave a hand to his father , his uncle . At a very young age, he drove the tractor, checked the vineyard so that birds did not peck all the grapes . At the age of 14-15 years, he began to have responsabilities like spraying, cutting the canes, digging, and tasting both the grapes and the fermenting/maturing wine . His father died during world war 2 . Before this war , they had a few thousands hectares of land , part of wich planted with vineyards . That all was confiscated
by the socialist regime , but somehow, they still managed to make wine after then , but for their own consumption . This was in his grand-father's house, even in Budapest, in the garden , and also along the Balaton lake . These times were harsh, they had to use different tactics and the wine could not be sold, it had to be consumed among family and friends . He says that hungarian people
are genetically built to make their own wine , he insists on that . This tradition predates the roman wine culture in Hungary , and is deeply ingrained in their blood . Thats something new to me , as I thought our wine culture in all of Europe came from the mediterannean region . I note that even in France our love and relation with wine have no such deep roots . He tells me about a poll wich was made here among ordinary hungarians plans to own a cellar and make wine (even on a small scale) : The results showed a very large proportion of his countrymen seriously contemplated making wine . Here , I can testify that I saw several stores in Budapest wich had a wine making section with all sorts of strange glass tools and plastic containers visibly intended for home wine making . That was another surprise of my trip : Many hungarians are garage winemakers...
When socialism receded, he succeded to buy back hectares of vineyards to the family and other private owners . He had left Hungary during the 1980s, and spent a few years in different countries around the world, Austria, Iran , West Africa, before coming back in 1992 . In Iran where he travelled regularly, he was paradoxally close to wine through contacts with an old persan tribe belonging to the Zoroastrian religion, an ancient religion wich predates Christianism, where wine is sacred . These people, after being being persecuted by the muslim theocracy [ their estimated population in Iran dwindled from about 50 000 to about 20 000 according to some sources ] were tolerated again and were allowed under surveillance to resume their ritual wine making tradition, for sacral purpose and for their own consumption only .
He asks for someone to pour another glass. This one is a Pinot Noir vinified in white . Clear like water . Love it . I'll say more on the estate visit page .
He says there was this old roman saying : "It is not necessary to live, but you have to navigate". He adds that in Hungary, it would be more like : "It is not necessary to live, but you have to make wine..." He says that in this rather small country, more than 500 villages have an intensive wine production, perpetuated by the families living there .
This Wine Village (Borfalu) was created 6 years ago by himself and a friend, and he insisted from the start to select producers who make wine with their own grapes and vineyards, not negoce vintners. He says a few words to deplore the impact of some wine experts who have the whole world follow their taste, and who he says suppress the different personalities of wines . He adds that around here they use to say : "Show us your wine and we will know your spirit, your soul" because, he adds, a glass of wine is like a miniature world...