About six months ago, we got a present of an overnight stay in the treehouses of Nozsvaj in northern Hungary. The first available date that suited was the first Monday in September. That says something about how popular the place is.
Wine shopping in Eger
We stopped for lunch in Eger on the way because we weren’t at all sure what would be open in Noszvaj offseason. While we were there, we went shopping for wine and discovered the back room in the Bikaver Borház wine shop. Inside we met a Polish priest and his father who were sampling rosés and reds. Himself had to do the honours as I was driving. As Eger is more famous for its reds than its whites, I wasn’t all that bothered. While he was chatting and imbibing, I was trolling the shelves for wines I liked. And I scored. One of my favourite Hungarian wines is Brill, a semi-sweet (félédes) slightly sparkling (gyöngyöző) from the Tarjányi Winery (note to self made to visit them next time I’m up that way: 3300 Eger, Kistályai út 45). My local wine bar stocks it until it runs out (which it does) and I’m their best customer. It’s the bottle they reach for when I darken their door.
It was on sale with an extra bottle added to each case just because. Another favourite from the same vineyard is Igazgyöngy, a dry white sparkling cuvée. I scored on that, too. When I was settling, I asked what himself was drinking, as I could hear the rhapsodic raves coming from the back room. It was very reasonably priced so I paid for three bottles, or so I thought. I went in to collect him because we had places to be. But yer man poured a second glass for himself to taste, despite my protestations. And then a third. I was getting a little ticked off at this stage, not used to being ignored, but it turns out that I’d paid for three glasses of the stuff, not three bottles:-) He was right to think me mad. And I felt really bad that I rushed himself through what were apparently very decent reds that were more than either one of us would usually pay for a bottle of vino.
The reviews of Bikaver Borház are damning. It gets an extremely low rating on Google. Yes, yer man wouldn’t win prizes for diplomacy and yes he’s a little brash, but his wines are good and his prices are reasonable. And the priest gave him a thumbs up (turns out we know the same people in Poland). It’s not for the fainthearted or sensitive types but it’s worth a visit if you’re thick-skinned, like your wines, and like a dated living-room experience (Eger, Dobó István tér 13, 3300 Hungary). Dűlő Chocolate&Wine is also worth a visit. Plenty of choice and lots of bargains.
Treehouses in Noszvaj
We found our way to Noszvaj and to the treehouses. Something, though, had gotten lost in translation. I had had visions of Robinson Crusoe. I was thinking of a treehouse – a house built high up in a tree – one I’d have to climb a rope ladder to get to. Admittedly, I’d been having difficulty imagining the private Jacuzzi on the deck.
The wooden structures built high up into the forest were quite something. Ours was a little too close to the road for my liking (even if it was a quiet residential road) and they’re a little too close together, too. Conversations carry in the night. But the breakfast deposited at the door in the morning was one of the best cold breakfasts I’ve had anywhere. Everything from duck paté to cold cuts and cheeses, from yoghurts and fruit to fresh bread and juices. Enough for both breakfast and a packed lunch. The bubbled domes next door looked interesting too, presumably built so those inside can enjoy the stars. Am not sure if they’re part of the same complex or privately built.
If you have the money (they’re a tad expensive – B&B runs about 60k HUF / €180 / $200 / £160) and want to spoil yourself or someone else, then have at it.
Wine-tasting in Noszvaj
One of the main attractions 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 has happened in between. He’s extended the cellar and is in the middle of building a new tasting room and kitchen. We sat and tasted and gave our votes to the 2014 Tramini and a rather robust 14.5% rosé. It’s cellars like this one that make the Hungarian wine-tasting experience what it is. Small, family-run affairs that cater to those who know what they like rather than like that they know. I love them.
We came, we tasted, we bought. And with plans afoot for our own cellar renovation, we had plenty of questions and were taking notes. It was a lovely start to this Hungarian road trip.