Royal Tokaji Company
Amazing sweet wines from Hungary's Tokaji region
wine writer Hugh Johnson was one of the founders of the Royal Tokaji
company back in 1990, when it was the first foreign company to
invest in the region. During the communist era, all Tokaji
winemaking had been in the hands of a single state-run company; now
the region boasts some 20 private cellars, and this legendary wine
has been reborn.
Tokaji is located in the middle of the wonderfully named town of Mád,
and has a historic 14th century cellar system, a kilometre long.
Since 1994 winemaking has been in the hands of the well regarded Károly
Áts. These are remarkable wines, and it was nice to get a chance to
try the legendary Essencia, which is so sweet it can hardly ferment
climate in the region, with dry autumns with early morning mists
encourages the development of noble rot (also known as botrytis).
The predominant variety here, Furmint (70% of plantings; the other
varieties are Harslevelu and Muscat de Lunel) is particularly
susceptible to botrytis. The grapes affected by this rot shrivel,
and are referred to as the aszu berries. They are harvested
separately, traditionally in 20 litre wooden tubs called puttony.
These grapes are then crushed, and the super-sweet high acid juice
is added to base wines made with non-botrytis-affected grapes. The
number of puttony added per barrel gives the final puttonyos level
of the wine, which is indicated on the label.
prices and stockists are listed; all the wines are available from www.bbr.com.
Royal Tokaji Company Áts Cuvée Late Harvest 2007 Tokaji, Hungary
9.5% alcohol, a cuvée designed for early drinking. Very pure
nose: fruity, lemony, peachy with honey and melon notes. The palate
is fat and broad with lovely melon sweetness. Quite light with a
pure fruity character. 89/100 (£10.95 Berry Bros, Averys, Wine
Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos The Royal Tokaji Company 2005 Tokaji,
10.5% alcohol. Complex, spicy nose with citrus peel, herbs and
lifted honey notes. Still fresh and fruity. Open lemony herby palate
with viscous apricot and lemon fruit. Very high acid keeps it fresh.
Distinctive stuff: powerful, lemony and complex. 92/100 (£19.95
Berry Bros, Laithwaites, Jeroboams)
Royal Tokaji Company Tokaji Mezes Maly 6 Puttonyos 1999 Tokaji,
11% alcohol. Wonderfully complex: amazing spicy, lemon, lime,
citrus peel and apricot notes on the nose with a hint of raisin. The
palate is super-concentrated and rich showing raisins, syrup,
apricot and lime with a long, pithy finish. Amazing. 95/100 (£92.95
Royal Tokaji Company Essencia 2000 Tokaji, Hungary
2.9% alcohol, 620 g/litre residual sugar. Remarkable stuff,
fermented and aged in glass jars for seven years, and not
technically wine because the alcohol level is too low. And it takes
three years to ferment this far because of the incredibly high sugar
level, creating a highly hostile environment for yeasts to work in.
I tasted it from the special crystal Essencia spoon that comes with
each bottle. It’s amazingly intense, fresh and spicy with lovely
acidity countering the wall of sweetness. Super sweet yet complex
with notes of apricot, spice and herbs. Eternal finish. This is
remarkable stuff, and it’s almost impossible to rate it with a
numerical score, so I won’t try. (£313.15 for a half bottle,
tasted as 10/09
notes (from November 2002)
Tokaji Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 1996
orange brown colour. Raisined, slightly volatile nose is sweet and
treacly. A bit rustic? Unusual, rich palate with notes of caramel,
herbs and raisins. High acidity. Very good
1st Growth 5 Puttonyos 1990
caramelised nose leads to powerful, pungent flavours on the palate.
Raisined character with high acidity and lots of sugar. A striking
wine. Very good
Tamas 1st Growth 6 Puttonyos 1991
stuff. Complex nose of raisins, apricots and herbs is quite
different to the other two wines. Marmaladey palate with spicy
sweetness and good balance. Harmonious. Very good/excellent.
Tamas 1st Growth 6 Puttonyos 1993
nutty, raisined nose. Rich palate shows marmalade, honey and spice.
Although the good acidity provides some balance this is quite
syrupy. Very good+
1st Growth 5 Puttonyos 1991
and syrup notes dominate the nose. Quite mellow. Rich,
thick-textured palate with nice balance. Very sweet; a bit raisiny.
1st Growth 6 Puttonyos 1993
herby, spicy, raisined nose. Rich, complex spicy, marmaladey palate.
Thick textured and extremely sweet. Delicious stuff. Very good+
Maly Great 1st Growth 6 Puttonyos
complex nose of caramel, honey and raisins. Rich, thick-textured
palate with spicy, marmaladey character and high acidity. Very
intense. Very good/excellent
these wines with wine-searcher.com