terroirs located in 400 different vulcanes
strong touch of minerals in smell and taste
leading sweet wine on Earth: the aszú (even 300 gramms residial sugar / liter)
leading variety is Furmint, one of the TOP5 white varieties on Earth
most famous producers: Szepsy, Balassa, Disznókő, Royal Tokaj
Tokaj – Hungary
About This Wine Region:
Top Wines: Tokaji (sweet white wines), Furmint (dry white wines)
Soils: A range of clay-dominant soils of red, yellow, brown, and white clay, along with loess, strewn atop volcanic rock subsoil that’s rich in iron and lime.
Tokaj is the gold standard of the Hungarian wine regions. It is Hungary’s most famous wine region, the oldest classified wine region in the world, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and home to the world’s first noble rot wine–the sweet golden Tokaji Aszú (“toe-kye as-zoo”).
Named after the village of Tokaj, the region is made up of 28 towns scattered along rolling hills and nestled between two rivers, the Tisza and the Bodrog. The rivers create a special microclimate in the area with high levels of moisture in the air, offset by wind and abundant sunshine. This creates optimal conditions for botrytized wines.
To receive the Tokaji denotation, dry or sweet, a wine can only contain the 6 native varieties of Furmint (“foor-meent”), Hárslevelü (“harsh-level-ooo”), Kabar (“kah-bar”), Kövérszölö (“kuh-vaer-sue-lou”), Zéta (“zay-tuh”), and Sárgamuskotály (“shar-guh-moose-koh-tie”). The wine is made from individually picked botrytized grapes that are then mashed and soaked in dry wine or must. The resulting wine, after aging, is golden, extremely sweet (120-180 grams per liter) and has the potential to age indefinitely (when properly stored).
This treasured wine often tastes like candied tangerines and apricots, cinnamon and cloves, with a sweetness somewhere between honey and nectar. Its bright acidity balances out the extreme sugar content. In Hungary, the classic Aszú pairing is foie gras, but you can drink it with creamy cheeses, lemon tarts, or simply on its own. Expect to fork over $55+ for a bottle.
Louis XIV famously described Tokaji Aszú as “the king of wines and the wine of kings.” Before the invention of refined sugar, royal courts throughout Europe would consume the sweet Tokaji from dainty crystal spoons.
The Tokaji Aszú classification system: An Aszú is characterized by its amount of sugar, which is designated by its “Puttonyos.” This original measure of sugar was measured by the number of baskets of noble rot grapes or “puttonyos” that were added to a barrel of wine; the more that were added, the sweeter the wine. Originally there were 6 different levels, but today there are only 2 allowed levels.