Adventures in Tokaji
In my early twenties, I had the chance to travel to Europe to visit Hungary. Within the first 24-hours of my first visit, I was in a small village in Somló (awesome wine region) having a pig roast with my girlfriend's family and tasting her uncle’s wine in the cellar. This was really my first exposure to wine production and I found it romantic and fascinating. I tasted Chardonnay and furmint from the barrel. I was lucky enough to travel back a few times, but I always wanted to visit the great wine region of Tokaj. The more I read, the more it was obvious what a rich and interesting history there was to discover. The first “Aszú” (Botrytis) wines were mentioned in the 1500’s.
Noble Rot (Botrytis) is a grey fungus that can form on grapes when under moist conditions, and when picked at a certain point, grapes affected by noble rot can produce fine, sweet and concentrated wine.
A little history...
Prior to World War I, the wines of Tokaji were some of the expensive in the world. Because of Nazi occupation and later Communism, wine production was to exist for bulk wines to sell the Russians etc. In 1989, Hugh Johnson (one of the world’s great wine writers) went into Tokaj after Communism ended in 1989 and worked to secure the Grand Cru sites, thus Royal Tokaji was born.
Back to today...
When I had a chance to go back for a wine trip and visit Tokaj - I was all too excited. I found the region charming and Romantic.
I was able to visit the vineyards and harvest Aszú grapes. I found out quickly that harvesting Botrytis grapes are a painful and detailed process. "The ones that are complete raisins, are the ones we were after." After my terrible attempt at harvesting, I was able to enjoy a glass of a dry wine of the Szt. Tamás vineyard and look out over the different vineyard sites. The dry Tokaji wines are lovely and becoming increasingly popular with markets outside of Hungary (look for a by the glass from me soon).
It was 73 degrees and a perfect sunny day in the vineyards where I was able to discuss just what equates to the specific terroir of each site.
The cellars date back to the 14th century and are filled with the golden nectar of the gods. I tasted from the barrel through the single vineyards and really was able to see the specific details of the different sites shown through into the wines.
I look forward to adding some of these stellar wines to our ever-growing list and can't wait for you to try them.