Aside from the Georgian restaurant a colleague and I found in Budapest on our free day, the only highlight, indeed the only thing that made the eight days I was stuck in Lake Balaton, Hungary bearable was the Hungarian Festival with its myriad of food, wine, and craft stalls. Especially the wine stalls like Tihanyi.
Set in the middle of a park (which we don’t see too much of in Istanbul to begin with!) the festival was very atmospheric with lights strung up in the trees and communal tables for eating and drinking the many offerings. Many of those many offerings were pork-based foods and you can bet I took advantage! Oh my gosh the food was amazing. Because we were there for work our company covered all our meals-as long as we took them at the hotel. Unfortunately the food there was really not good so as the week dragged on more and more people eschewed the hotel dinging room in favor of the festival flavors.
I tried many of the wines on offer. For a small deposit you got your wine glass and could then taste and buy glasses and bottles all night long with that glass. When you were finished you returned the glass at any of the wine stalls and got back the deposit. One of our last nights at Lake Balaton a small group of us started here with a bottle of the Tihanyi 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon which ended up being one of my festival favorites. Our table quickly collected more and more colleagues looking to escape from the horrors of our retreat and as new people joined our table they went to get their glass and yet another bottle of the Tihanyi to share around.
|I found one thing good about this trip!|
So there we are, probably 12 of us, and suddenly the stalls are shutting down and the festival is closing for the night. The group of us descended on the poor kids working the Tihanyi booth with a proposition: rather than refund our glass deposits, just give us as many bottles of wine as the deposits will afford. Hungarians must not be big drinkers because we had to convince these kids, who got to know us turning up every 20 minutes for a new bottle, that yes we really did want some 10 more bottles.
We left the fair grounds for the park along the lake and drank more bottles there until we were rousted by cops. Apparently the lake has a closing time too. I packed it in when we finally trudged back to the hotel but about half the group stayed out to finish the remaining bottles (and order more from the hotel bar). Needless to say we did not see everyone at the first session the next morning.
So what was this wine which we imbibed so enjoyably?
The Tihanyi 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was a medium-bodied dark, raspberry colored wine with a gorgeous combination of flavors. Raspberry and red fruits like red currants and other berries were foremost but there were hints of green pepper, jalapeno, and mint. From the oak I got some interesting cedar and smoke flavors.
Was this the best Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve ever had? No. Was it good drinking? Yes definitely. It is also what leads me to conclude that wine, like proper grammar, saves lives because without this and the many other Hungarian wines I (and my colleagues) drank on this trip I think our work retreat might have turned into a J.G. Ballard novel.