In 1737 the Tokaj Wine Region was declared the first closed wine region in the world; since 2002 it has belonged to the UNESCO World Heritage. The area of 6202 hectares (15,325 acres) lies in Northeastern Hungary, in a triangle between the Sátor hills of Abaújszántó and Sátoraljaújhely and the Kopasz hill in Tokaj.
Traditional Tokaj grape varieties: Furmint, Hárslevelű, Sárgamuskotály, Kövérszőlő, Zéta, Kabar – only wines from these varieties may receive the Protected Designation of Origin, Tokaji.
To taste and fall in love with Tokaji wines
Wines created in the Tokaj Wine Region have a unique character, a distinct minerality. They have a wonderfully taut acid structure and offer wines perfect for a light or a heavier meal or simply to enjoy during a pleasant afternoon chat with friends.
In the 16th century Tokaji wines superseded the role of Syrmian wines to become the favoured drink at the royal Hungarian court. The noble Tokaji wines soon became the favourite at the dinner table of ruling families of Europe, often the crowning glory at the end of great feasts. Louis XIVth regarded it as simply the “king of wines”.
The uniqueness of Tokaji wines is assured by the combination of several factors:
Several concepts related to Tokaji wines
Dry wines are equivalent to the old category, Vinum Ordinarium; wines made from the pressing of destemmed clusters of healthy, perfectly ripe or shrivelled berries with or without skin contact depending on the type of wine. We usually harvest in several stages to achieve maximum wine complexity. Our dry wines are aged in stainless steel or for up to several years in oak barrels.
Late harvest wines
We harvest bunches which include botrytised berries and press them together. After fermentation in stainless steel, we age the wines for several months in steel or oak barrels.
We harvest the bunches which contain grapes with Botrytis cinerea without individually selecting the aszú berries – to which the word of Polish origin Szamorodni refers, meaning: as it grew. The berries are pressed together. We mature the wines for at least one year in oak barrels and one year in the bottle.
Ripe berries affected by Botrytis cinerea begin on a path of noble rot and by the end of ripening have concentrated sugar and acid content.
We soak the individually, hand-picked aszú berries in high extract base wine or content must for 12 to 36 hours. Tokaji Aszú is a sweet wine that is required to be aged for minimum three years before sale. Before 2013 Aszú must be barrel-aged for 2 years and then matured in the bottle for 1 year. From 2013 it has been changed to 18 - 18 months.
In the early 20th century aszú berries were traditionally collected in a basket called “puttony”, from which the marker “puttonyos” originates. The puttony number can be 3, 4, 5, 6 and denotes the sugar content of the wine. Traditionally it referred to the number of puttony, that is baskets, of aszú berries added to one Gönci barrel (around 136 l) – today the puttony number refers to the sugar content of the wine, that can be between 60 and 180 g/l.
The equivalent of a wine with higher sugar than 6 puttonyos Aszú, we made Aszúeszencia in the same way as Aszú until 2011. The only difference was the sugar level: Aszú wines with over 180 g/l sugar could be called Aszú esszencia. However, the name confused consumers so, in accordance with EU ruling, since 2011 we label wines with over 180 g/l sugar as 6 puttonyos Aszú.
Esszencia or Naturesszencia
In a favourable vintage (enough sunshine, humidity and precipitation at the right time), the aszú berries rest in vats from which we can draw Tokaji Esszencia, a pure juice pressed only by the weight of the berries themselves. The most exclusive product of the Tokaj Wine Region, Esszencia has minimal alcohol and several hundred grams of sugar per litre. Over the centuries doctors prescribed it for patients and couples wanting to conceive.
Other traditional categories of Tokaji wine
The aszú paste that has been pressed to make Aszú wines is soaked in fermenting grapemust or wine of the same vintage, and then the wine is aged for at least one year in wooden barrels and one year in the bottle. The name literally means “turn over”.
The lees from Aszú making that remains after pressing is soaked in base wine or fermenting must of the same vintage. Thanks to the sugar content this ferments in stainless steel before one year aging in the barrel and one year in the bottle.