Tokaji is one of the world’s great wines. It’s a sweet wine made primarily from botrytised grapes. These are grapes that, once ripe, have been infected by a fungus called Botrytis cinarea. It causes the grapes to dehydrate, and also changes their metabolism. The result is a sweet wine with high acidity countering the concentrated, complex sweet flavours.
In Tokaji the grapes are harvested in a number of passes through the vineyard, and the botrytis-affected (‘nobly rotten’) berries are picked alongside the the raisined berries that have simply been dehydrated. They are then kept separate, and form aszu. This very rich, intense, sweet paste is then added to fermenting wine from the healthy berries and adds richness and complexity. Plus the skin ferment also adds some phenolic structure. The free run juice from these berries forms Essencia, which is a mythical wine (usually not legally wine because the alcohol level is too low) of immense sweetness, normally served on a spoon.
I love this wine. It has an ageing potential of 20 years or so (so at 13 this was comfortably in the drinking window), and once opened it’s good for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Current release is £19.95 for a half bottle in Waitrose, which for a wine of this quality is good.
Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2007 Hungary
12.5% alcohol. Such a wonderfully complex wine, at a beautiful point in time. Marmalade, apricot, spice and honey, with some crystalline citrus fruits and a viscous, sweet palate hemmed in by keen acidity, and also a little bit of tannic grip. This is powerful, balanced and layered, with lemon, orange peel, pineapple, honey, and a tapering, spicy finish with nice bitter hints. Such a wonderful wine, offering thrilling complexity, and still relatively affordable. 95/100
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