Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos (Red Label) (500ML) 2005
Other Dessert from Hungary
#44 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2009
Only eight vintages of the Royal Tokaji Red Label have been produced since its premier release of the 1990 vintage. Since then, the Red Label has been made in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2005. This wine is a blend of carefully selected grapes from several of Royal Tokaji's first and second growth vineyards.
The 2005 Red Label is imbued with a golden amber color. Its perfume resonates with ripe fruit, honey and orange peel. The palate offers lusciousness and complexity balanced by fine acidity, which leads to a clean and refreshing finish. It will age beautifully for several years.
Serve slightly chilled (50 to 54 degrees) in a small port glass or a glass of similar size (there are approximately eight two-ounce servings per 500ml bottle). Tokaji Aszú wines are wonderful on their own as an apéritif or as a digestif, with cigars and petits fours. These wines also pair well with a wide variety of foods, including foie gras, fruit tarts, chocolate desserts, and blue and soft cheeses.
Wine Spectator - " Slight oxidation adds nutty accents and an iodine note to this sinewy dessert white. There's not a log of flesh, yet this is intense and complex, with apricot, honey, smoke, spice and mineral flavors that won't quit. This has a dry, chalky feel on the finish. From Hungry. Drink now through 2025."
Royal Tokaji Wine Company Winery
The first Tokaji Aszú (toh-KAY ah-SOO) wine was created in the 1600s, perhaps by accident - a harvest delayed by threat of enemy invasion. In 1700, Tokaj became the first European region to have its vineyards classified, its uniquely varied terroirs and climates rated Primae Classis, Secundae Classis, Tertius Classis ("1st Growth, 2nd Growth, 3rd Growth") by Prince Rakoczi of Transylvania. This classification system is still used in Hungary today. Louis XIV of France (1638 - 1715) declared Tokaji "the wine of Kings and the King of wines", while in the 18th century, Catherine the Great stationed soldiers in Tokaj to protect her vineyards.
Quality production ended with World Wars I and II and the Communist takeover of Hungarian winemaking. Aszú grapes were used for mass production in factories, with vineyard distinctions lost in giant tanks. Tokaji's renaissance began after the collapse of communism with the Royal Tokaji Wine Company (RTWC) in 1989, inspired by well-known wine author, Hugh Johnson, and others. RTWC's founders started the winery in an effort to preserve what they considered a dying art. "I couldn't resist bringing back to life a wine that had been so renowned centuries ago," says Johnson.
About HungaryView a map of Hungary wineries
Wine of Kings and the King of WinesThe most well-known and important wine in Hungary is Tokay-Aszú, truly one of the world's greatest sweet wines. Louis XIV – France's Sun King – once called the wine, "vinum regum, rex vinorum," translated as, "the wine of kings and the king of wine." Unfortunately, the king of wine suffered during Hungary's 50-year communist regime - exports of Tokay-Aszú decreased and the vineyards were nationalized with a focus on lower quality and higher quantity. When the communist government fell in 1989, the vines for making Tokay-Aszú were in a state of disrepair. With the help of investors and the creation of the Royal Tokaji Wine Company, the Hungarian vineyards and wine industry were rebuilt.
Notable FactsWhile Tokay-Aszú is the most important and most imported of Hungarian wines, it only represents about 10% of the total wine produced. The rest of Hungary is spotted with over 20 different wine regions, most cultivating both the indigenous varieties of the country and several international varieties that arrived with the post-communism investors. In the whites, the indigenous variety of Furmint plays double duty, making still white wines and remaining the most crucial grape in the Tokay blend. Other indigenous varieties include Hárslevelú, Olaszrizling (Welschriesling) and Irsai Oliver, a newcomer that produces delicious dry whites. The international varieties of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Muscat also play a role. For reds, Merlot is the most popular of the international crowd, while on the indigenous side you have Kadarka and Kékfrankos (the Hungarian name for Austria's Blaufränkisch).
About Tokay-Aszú(toh-KAY ah-SOO)Tokay is the English word for Tokaji, which is the name for the wine produced in the Hungarian region of Tokaj. The region produces both dry and sweet wines, but is most famed for the rich sweet wine called Tokay Aszú. Like Sauternes and sweet German wines, Tokay Aszú is made from grapes (mainly Furmint, with some Harslevelu and occasionally a bit of Muscat) affected by the famed mold, botrytis cinerea. It is of interest to note, however, that Tokay Aszú was made centuries before the Germans or the French discovered the rich, honeyed effect of the noble rot.
To make Tokay-Aszú is a process:
Two sets of grapes are picked – first, the workers scan the fields, picking the Aszu grapes - those affected by botrytis. These grapes are then gently pressed to make an Aszú paste. Grapes not affected by botrytis are then picked and fermented into a high-acid base wine.
Once both the paste and the still wines are complete, the two are combined. The Aszú paste is added to the base wine in amounts referred to as puttonyos (puh-TOON-yohsz). The higher the puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. Most Tokay-Aszú on the market is between 3 puttonyos and 6 puttonyos.
Beyond 6 puttonyos is Tokay Aszú Essencia. Tokay Aszú Essencia is equal in sweetness to about 7 puttonyos, and is made in only the best years from the best vineyards.
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