Tokaji plays a prominent role in Dean Spanley, a feature film starring Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Judy Parfitt and Art Malik.
Set in Edwardian London, the film tells the story of the relationship between Horatio Fisk (O’Toole), and his son Henslowe (played by Jeremy Northam).
Henslowe meets an eccentric clergyman Dean Spanley (Sam Neill) who, it turns out, enters an altered state whenever he has a glass of Tokaji.
Dean Spanley trailer
Henslowe invites Spanley to Tokaji-fueled ‘séances’ in an attempt to make contact with his emotionally distant father.
Observant wine buffs will note the appearance of Tokaji bottles labelled Kleverheld-Manschliess.
Simon Berry, of Berry Bros & Rudd, who acted as consultant to the production, said Tokaji Essencia would have had an almost mystical reputation at the time of the story, due to its rarity.
‘It was mostly drunk by the aristocrats who owned the land themselves – hence the tongue-twisting names like Szepesvaralja and Tällya-Hegyalya.’
In the 1930s, Berry Bros became the first retailer to sell the wine – after Berry’s grandfather visited Hungary.
‘Even in those days, the vintages would have been very old – my grandfather shipped the 1811, for example,’ said Berry.
‘We don’t have any of that left but we do still have some vintages going back to 1834.’
The film, released last December, is based on the book My Talks with Dean Spanley by Edward Plunkett, the 18th Baron of Dunsany.
Written by Maggie Rosen