Hungarian wine has a history dating back to at least Roman times. Outside of Hungary, the best-known wines are the white dessert wine Tokaji and the red wine Bull's Blood of Eger (Egri Bikavér). Hungary's most famous wine region lies in the foothills of the Zemplén Mountains of the far north of the country - in fact the traditional area crosses into the southeast corner of modern Slovakia. The area is notable for its long warm autumns and mists that come in from the River Bodrog, creating perfect conditions for noble rot. This can contribute towards creating the botrytised ('aszú') grapes for which the region is famous. These are individually picked as late as mid-November into buckets ('puttonyos') and crushed to a paste. Varying amounts of this aszú paste are then added to non-aszú must or wine made from a mix of Furmint, Hárslevelű, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Kövérszőlő or Zéta grapes, and left to ferment. The resulting wine is then aged in relatively small barrels in a labyrinth of cellars in the soft volcanic tuff, on whose walls thick blankets of fungus regulate the humidity.
- Item #: i_374811Bottle Size: 500mlWine Spectator: 90Hungary’s sweet Tokaji (Tokay) wines have been considered one of the world’s greatest dessert wines since at least the Middle Ages. Wines labeled Aszú are made from late harvest, botrytis-affected Furmint and Harslevelu grapes with a small percentage of Muscat. 5 Puttonyos indicates the richness and sweetness level of this impressive wine.
The apricot, kumquat and honey flavors are tinged by lanolin in this medium-sweet white. Racy acidity keeps this fresh and lively on the lingering aftertaste.
- Item #: i_300034Bottle Size: 500mlHungary's remarkable Tokaj region has enjoyed royal patronage for 400 years. From the country's most exciting cellar, this is a divine sweet white - not a traditional Tokaji but a Late Harvest wine with intense honeyed fruit and brilliant freshness.
- Item #: i_372088Bottle Size: 500mlWine Advocate: 95The 2016 Betsek First Growth Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos offers dried honey aromas leading to apricot, quince and marmelade flavors (and a hint of ginger) on the elegant, well-balanced palate. The delightful sweetness is beautifully balanced by acidity making this special dessert wine refreshing and inviting.
The Royal Tokaji Wine Company, founded in 1990, has become one of the most defining wineries in Tokaj. It is the oldest winery founded by foreign investors, including Hugh Johnson, one of the most renowned wine authors in the world. From the outset, Royal Tokaji decided to concentrate on producing single-growth wines from the first class growths of Nyulaszo, Szt Tamas and Betsek, as well as Mezes Maly, which is one of the two Great First Growths in the region.
The largest of Royal Tokaji’s first growth vineyards, Betsek Vineyard is shaped like a half-moon and tilted northeast. The area where the vineyard is located is typically cold – lower portions of the vineyard have been known to actually freeze in the spring. The soil is dark humus mixed with volcanic clay, producing weighty, pungent wines with an earthy character.
VINOUS 96 POINTS - "The 2016 Betsek First Growth Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos contains the most residual sugar this vintage, at 185.8g/L. The clean, pure bouquet offers dried honey, a light adhesive note, lanolin and candle wax, very complex and mercurial in the glass. The elegant, well-balanced palate features apricot, quince, marmalade and a touch of ginger. What I adore is the manner in which this Betsek builds in the mouth and fans out like a great Tokaji ought to. Another outstanding single-vineyard offering from the Royal Tokaji Company."
DECANTER 93 POINTS
- Item #: i_372429Bottle Size: 750mlFurmint is one of Europe's foremost grape varieties with a history stretching back many centuries. This is a wine that is under the radar but overdelivers. This is a wine with an excellent QPR. Think of this as a cross between Chablis and Chenin Blanc. It is a wine to be drunk with charcuterie, oysters, dishes with warm spices or garlic cream sauces. This is the perfect foil to a good many dishes. What makes it so good is that it is delicious on its own, served chilled for sipping on a hot summer day. Delightful!