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Kiralyudvar Tokaji Sec Furmint 2011
Just a few months after his visit, Tony purchased this estate, which for centuries had supplied Imperial wine to the Hapsburgs. The famed Tokaj winemaker Ivan Szepsy became Tony's partner, helping him rehabilitate the vineyards, while the chateau itself was rebuilt.
With time, Szepsy departed, and Tony assumed the reins full-time. Along the way, he was counseled by Noël Pinguet of the Loire Valley's greatest Vouvray producer, Domaine Huët, of which Tony is also a partner. Noël's collaboration would prove invaluable, particularly his advice to convert the estate to biodynamic viticulture.
Today, Tony is rekindling the legacy of this providential wine region. But he's not stopping there, having recognized, that Tokaj's historic grape varieties, with their viscous intensity and bright acidity, could produce world-class dry, demi-sec, and sparkling wines.
Best known for lusciously sweet dessert wines but also home to distinctive dry whites and reds, Hungary is an exciting country at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Mostly flat with a continental climate, Hungary is almost perfectly bisected by the Danube River (known here as the Duna), and contains central Europe’s largest lake, Balaton. Soil types vary throughout the country but some of the best vines, particularly in Tokaj, are planted on mineral-rich, volcanic soil.
Tokaj, Hungary’s most famous wine region, is home to the venerated botrytized sweet wine, Tokaji, produced from a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű. Dry and semi-dry wines are also made in Tokaj, using the same varieties. Other native white varieties include the relatively aromatic and floral, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka, as well as the distinctively smoky and savory, Juhfark. Common red varieties include velvety, Pinot Noir-like Kadarka and juicy, easy-drinking Kékfrankos (known elsewhere as Blaufränkisch).
End a great meal on a sweet note, dessert and fortified wines come in an impressive array of styles and sweetness levels. Many wines in this category—including Port, Sherry, and Madeira—are fortified with neutral spirits to increase the level of alcohol, and, depending on the final style of wine desired, often to arrest fermentation while some (or a lot of) residual sugar remains. Others, like Sauternes and Tokaji, are produced by leaving the grapes on the vine long after the rest of the harvest has been processed in order to accumulate very high sugar levels. Often, a form of “noble” rot called botrytis plays a role, desiccating the grape until only the very flavorful solids and sugars remain. These late-picked wines are, accordingly, often referred to as late-harvest wines. In colder climates, the grapes may be allowed to freeze on the vine for the production of ice wine.