All about Hungary: The Tokaji wine

The Tokaji wine

Posted on Mar 21, 2010| | | No comments:


Tokaji (Hungarian: of Tokaj) is the name of the wines from the region of Tokaj-Hegyalja in Hungary. The name Tokaji (which is of Protected Designation of Origin) is used for labeling wines from this wine district. This region is noted for its sweet wines[1] made from grapes affected by noble rot, a style of wine which has a long history in this region. Tokaj is mentioned in the official national anthem of Hungary. Tokaji is a Hungarikum, a term used to refer to uniquely Hungarian products, especially cuisine.
Since 2007, only authorised wine producers from the region are able to use the Tokaj brand name.
The Slovak wine region of Tokaj may use the Tokajský/-á/-é label ("of Tokaj" in Slovak) if they apply the Hungarian quality control regulation.Since 2007, only authorised wine producers from the Hungarian Tokaj region will use the Tokaj brand name, while Slovakia use for the wines produced in the Slovak region the Tokajský/-á/-é label.




History

It is not known for how long vines have been grown on the volcanic soil of the fork of the rivers Bodrog and Hernád. This predates the settlement of the Magyar tribes to the region.. According to legend the first aszú was made by Laczkó Máté Szepsi in 1630. However, mention of wine made from aszú grapes had already appeared in the Nomenklatura of Fabricius Balázs Sziksai which was completed in 1576. A recently discovered inventory of aszú predates this reference by five years.
Tokaji wine became the subject of the world's first appellation control, established several decades before Port wine, and over 120 years before the classification of Bordeaux. Vineyard classification began in 1730 with vineyards being classified into 3 categories depending on the soil, sun exposure and potential to develop noble rot, botrytis cinerea, first class, second class and third class wines. A royal decree in 1757 established a closed production district in Tokaj. The classification system was completed by the national censuses of 1765 and 1772.
In 1920, following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a small part of the Tokaj wine region (approx. 1.75 km²) became part of Czechoslovakia due to the Treaty of Trianon, while the rest remained part of Hungary. After World War II, when Hungary became a Soviet-influenced state, Tokaji production continued with as many as 6000 small producers, but the bottling and distribution were monopolized by the state-owned organization. Since the collapse of the communist regimes in 1990, a number of independent wineries have been established in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region. A state-owned producer continues to exist and handles approximately 20% of the overall production.




Famous consumers 

In 1703, Francis Rákóczi II, Prince of Transylvania, gave King Louis XIV of France some Tokaji wine from his Tokaj estate as a gift. The Tokaji wine was served at the French Royal court at Versailles, where it became known as Tokay. Delighted with the precious beverage, Louis XV of France was offering a glass of Tokaji to Madame de Pompadour, which referred to as "Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum" ("Wine of Kings, King of Wines"). This famous line is used to this day in the marketing of Tokaji wines.
Emperor Franz Josef had a tradition of sending Queen Victoria Tokaji Aszú wine, as a gift, every year on her birthday, one bottle for every month she had lived, twelve for each year. On her eighty-first and final birthday (1900), this totaled an impressive 972 bottles.
Tokaji wine has received accolades from numerous great writers and composers including Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Friedrich von Schiller, Bram, Stoker, Johann Strauß and Voltaire. The composer Joseph Haydn's favorite wine was Tokaji. Besides Louis XIV, several other European monarchs are known to have been keen consumers of the wine. Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another when they treated guests such as Voltaire with Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of the French, ordered 30–40 barrels of Tokaji at the French Royal Court every year. Pope Pius IV. (1499–1565) at the Council of Trient in 1562, exclaimed: „Summum pontificem talia vina decent! (This is the type of wine that should be on the papal table). Gustav III, King of Sweden, loved Tokaji. In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth of Russia. A newspaper account of the 1933 wedding of Polish president Ignacy Mościcki notes that toasts were made with 250-year-old wines, and goes on to say "The wine, if good, could only have been Essence of Tokay, and the centuries-old friendship between Poland and Hungary would seem to support this conclusion."



Types of Tokaji wine

  • Dry Wines: These wines, once referred to as common, ordinárium, are now named after their respective grape varieties: Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelű, Tokaji Sárgamuskotály and Tokaji Kövérszőlő.
  • Szamorodni: This type of wine was initially known as főbor (prime wine), but from the 1820s Polish merchants popularised the name samorodny ("the way it was grown" or "made by itself"). What sets Szamorodni apart from ordinary wines is that it is made from bunches of grapes which contain a high proportion of botrytised grapes. Szamorodni is typically higher in alcohol than ordinary wine. Szamorodni often contains up to 100-120 g of residual sugar and thus is termed édes (sweet). However, when the bunches contain less botrytised grapes, the residual sugar content is much lower, resulting in a száraz (dry) wine. Its alcohol content is typically 14%.
  • Aszú: This is the world-famous wine that is proudly cited in the Hungarian national anthem. It is the sweet, topaz-colored wine that is known throughout the English-speaking world as Tokay.
    The original meaning of the Hungarian word aszú was "dried", but the term aszú came to be associated with the type of wine made with botrytised (i.e. "nobly" rotten) grapes. The process of making Aszú wine is as follows.
    • Aszú berries are individually picked, then collected in huge vats and trampled into the consistency of paste (known as aszú dough).
    • Must is poured on the aszú dough and left for 24–48 hours, stirred occasionally.
    • The wine is racked off into wooden casks or vats where fermentation is completed and the aszú wine is to mature. The casks are stored in a cool environment, and are not tightly closed, so a slow fermentation process continues in the cask, usually for several years.
The concentration of aszú was traditionally defined by the number of puttony of dough added to a Gönc cask (136 liter barrel) of must. Nowadays the puttony number is based on the content of sugar and sugar-free extract in the mature wine. Aszú ranges from 3 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos, with a further category called Aszú-Eszencia representing wines above 6 puttonyos. Unlike most other wines, alcohol content of aszú typically runs higher than 14%. Annual production of aszú is less than one percent of the region's total output.
  • Eszencia: Also called nectar, this is often described as one of the most exclusive wines in the world, although technically it cannot even be called a wine because its enormous concentration of sugar means that its alcohol level never rises above 5-6 degrees. Eszencia is the juice of aszú berries which runs off naturally from the vats in which they are collected during harvesting. The sugar concentration of eszencia is typically between 500 g and 700 g per litre, although the year 2000 vintage produced eszencia exceeding 900 g per litre. Eszencia is traditionally added to aszú wines, but may be allowed to ferment (a process that takes at least 4 years to complete) and then bottled pure. The resulting wine has a concentration and intensity of flavour that is unequalled, but is so sweet that it can only be drunk in small quantities. Storage of Eszencia is facilitated by the fact that, unlike virtually all other wines, it maintains its quality and drinkability for 200 years or more.
  • Fordítás: (meaning "turning over" in Hungarian), wine made by pouring must on the aszú dough which has already been used to make aszú wine.
  • Másolás: (derived from the word "copy" in Hungarian), wine made by pouring must on the lees of aszú.
  • Other sweet wines: In the past few years reductive sweet wines have begun to appear in Tokaj. These are ready for release in a year to 18 months after harvest. They typically contain 50-180 g/l of residual sugar and a ratio of botrytised berries comparable to Aszú wines. They are usually labelled as késői szüretelésű (late harvest) wines. Innovative producers have also marketed tokaji wine that does not fit the appellation laws of the above categories but is often of high quality and price, and in many ways comparable to aszú. These wines are often labelled as tokaji cuvée.
In 1999, Chateau Pajzos became the first winery to produce a Tokaji ice wine.

Source :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokaji

Suggestion :
http://www.royal-tokaji.com/index.php

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