• What is so special about Tokaj?

    Tokaj is an institution. It is a Unesco world heritage, it is beautiful, volcaneous and most of all, spectacular wines are being made here. The region is situated in the northeastern Hungary on the border to Slovakia and includes barely 6000 hectares of wine land (the size of a single appellation in Bordeaux!) Thanks to the amount of dead volcanoes in the area, Tokaj has a very complex terroir; a soil that was created through layers of marina fossil chalk, loose soil and mud. Tokaj is mentioned in the medieval writings. The sweet wine from the region was exported to the whole of Europe and assigned magical qualities – Johan III treated his sick horse with it. Fredrik the Great drank it together with Voltaire and Goethe invited Faust. If this was not enough, the World’s first classification of vineyards based on quality was established in the region of Tokaj around 1700.

    (karta från winefolly.com)

    Aszú – “a wine for kings – the king of wines”

    This is how Ludvig XIV described the sweet wine from Tokaj, 100 years before French Sauternes rised to similar fame with its wine of noble rot! Tokaj wines are made mainly from 3 grape varieties; Furmint, Hárslevelü and Muskotály (muscat blanc à petits grains) but also Kövérszölö, Zéta and Kabar are allowed. The most curious is that the this most well-known wine from Hungary is created from mould! That got the name noble rot (Botrytis cinerea). the mould is developed in the skin during humid conditions and the grapes are simply left on the vines to dry until they have shrivelled and their natural sugar content maximised.

    The most sweet and noble wine, Tokaji Eszencia, is made completely out of aszú grapes and can reach a sugar content of as much as 800g per liter. During a long time this sugar chock of a wine was thought to have healing properties and was reserved to the kings’ deathbed for their final trip to heaven. Both Aszú och Aszú Eszencia have an extremely long life-length, Eszencia can be stored as long as 200 years!

    Dry whites are the new focus – Furmint in the centre

    It is interesting that the production of sweet wines actually has decreased to only stand for around 1% in the region, despite the fact that the sweet is the wine associated the most with Tokaj. In later years the white wines have increased rapidly in quality, to currently being able to compete with the real top wines. Furmint is a grape with high acid that is expressing terroir fantastically well (this is similar to Chardonnay). The wines become complex and concentrated. The character is often delicate with pear, spices, floral notes and mineralogy, if the earth is rich in mineral like in Tokaj. The high acid contributes to a large storage potential.

    Wines made of Furmint can handle everything from flavourful dishes of pork, cheese and charkuterie, to fat fish dishes. Except Furmint there are many dry or half dry wines made out of the grape Hárslevelü in Tokaj. Also this grape gives wines with high acidity, full body, floral and spice, but even more aromatic tones. There are a number of known winemakers in Tokaj, from István Szepsy, who is considered almost an icon in the region, to several less known some of whom delivers wine to Michelin-restaurants. Try something new, a dry Tokaj can be one of the most unexpected and exciting wines you have tried in a long time! 

    istvan_dorogi_brothers

    István Dorogi, from the family winery Dorogi Brothers.

  • Furmint, what the grape?

    Many of you are probably wondering – what kind of grape is furmint? 

    I didn’t know much about it myself before I travelled to Tokaj, the region where the grape has its capital seat in Hungary, and where it is a key ingredient in the world-famous sweet wine Aszú – that Louis XV called “the Wine of Kings, and The King of Wines” historically.

    Furmint has hundreds of years of tradition in Tokaj, however, in the past 15 years the grape has been rediscovered and spreading all over Hungary. In 2016 it was planted in 20 wine regions out of 22.

    landscape_tokajI often get the question which grape it is similar to, and I don’t believe there is an easy, straight answer. However, experts say it has the structure of Chardonnay, the fruitness of Chenin Blanc and the acidity of Riesling..

    Matt Walls, british wine consultant and writer; “it’s got everything you could desire in a grape, being a rare combination of powerful aromatics, minerality, richness and body. It deserves to be held in the same esteem as better known varieties such as Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner. So if you haven’t discovered it yet – start drinking Furmint.

    You can read his full article here: http://www.timatkin.com/articles?511

    Matt also believes it is one of the most versatile white grapes on the planet, great for everything from sparkling wine to complex dry whites, to sweet wines with great longevity (often blended with Hársleveü and Yellow Muscat) thanks to its high acidity and sugar content.

    Sweet Tokaji wine was extremely popular at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867-1918), when Furmint increased its grown area significantly. The variety can still be found in the empire’s former lands, for instance in Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia.

    The dry furmint wines can have great complexity and concentration, and as the grape adapts well to its surroundings, it  expresses the terroir beautifully. In the mouth it has a delicate fruity character of peer and quince, some exotic spices like clove, white flowers and of course minerality if the soil is rich in minerals. As it ages, Furmint wine takes gold, copper and amber-like colors and nutty, spicy flavors. Sweeter styles are rich and luscious, with complex apricot, marzipan and black-tea flavors backed by aromas of brown spices and honey.

    Apparently 2011 and 2015 were exceptionally gorgeous, harmonious vintages, and now we are about to find out if 2016 turned out as good!

    Synonyms include: Mosler, Sipon (Slovenia), Moslovac (Serbia), Zapfner, Posip (Croatia).

    Hungry Wines Furmint Barrique 2009, an aged wine that has been matured in oak barrels 17 months

    Furmint Barrique 2009, an aged wine that has been matured in oak barrels 17 months – delicious with a creamy pasta carbonara!

    Food pairings:

    Dry, unoaked younger wines: Chicken, fresh, herbal dishes, mozzarella and parma ham salad (possibly also with figs)

    Oaked, matured furmints – Buttery dishes, duck and roasted pork, smoked ham and cheese

    Sweet wines – A traditional suggestion is the Hungarian fruit cake but the truth is most sweet desserts are delicious pairings, not to forget strong blue/green cheese like roquefort is a dream match!

    We naturally suggest you to try our own special treat to your favourite dessert; The Golden Cuvée – it has yet never disappointed.

    Hungry Wines The Golden Cuvée - Sweet wine from Tokaji on the base of Furmint and other local grapes, and pannacotta topped with berries

    The Golden Cuvée, Sweet wine from Tokaji on the base of Furmint and other local grapes, and pannacotta topped with berries