The Tokaji is one of those wines which every blog friend of the liquor of Bacchus is required to write about at least once.
Tokaji is the typical wine from Tokaj-Hegyalja, an area that lies between Hungary and Slovakia. Although in Tokaj, as in many other places, all kinds of wines are produced, the most famous are the called aszú.
What are the Tokaj aszú wines? First things first. There is a fungus, Botrytis Cinerea, which affects the vineyard rotting it, the so called ?noble rot?. The grapes dry up and lose water, so the result is a rotten grape filled with sugar or aszú grape.
The botrytizated grapes or aszú grapes were traditionally collected into containers called Puttonyos, with a capacity of about 25 kg grape approximately. Once collected, several puttonyos -3 to 6 - were threw to a 136 liters tank where the normal wine of the year was stored before its fermentation, in order to take the sweetness of the grape. The more puttonyos of aszú jumped into the must, the sweeter the resulting wine was.
At present, the Puttonyo no longer corresponds to the amount of Botrytis grape added, but rather to the sugar concentration of the resulting wine. It has been estimated that 1 puttonyo is equal to, more or less, 25 g per liter of wine. Thus, a tokaj wine of 5 puttonyos would have 125 g of sugar per liter of alcohol.
There is another interesting type of Tokaji, called Eszcencia, which some mistakenly associated with a 7-puttonyos aszú. Actually, the 7-puttonyos aszú does not exist, and Eszcencia is not a wine to which is added a portion of rotten grapes, but is a wine made entirely with the must of that grape.
The texture of Esczencia is similar to syrup or even honey. Imagine the amount of grapes that is necessary to make an eszcencia, so there really are not cellars engaged in the elaboration of this wine in an organized manner.
What they do is collect the must of the grape that naturally flows through the grating at the bottom of the vats where the grapes are placed while collected. It is usually not enough to make Eszcencia so it is added to the Tokaj aszú deposits, but sometimes Eszcencia is created, called also tear from Tokaj.
In Spain the Tokaji Oremus is very famous, with Tokaji Oremus 6 Puttonyos as a flagship, owned by Bodega Vega Sicilia, who took advantage of the post-communist privatization process in the area to get a cellar in the area and produces wines of Tokaj respecting the most traditional processes.
Actually the most important thing for Tokaji is to be Hungarian, because Hungarian law is more severe on the quality of wine. Since Tokaj is a bordering area between Hungary and Slovakia, is also accepted the production of Slovakian Tokaj, but there the law is more permissive, so the quality is not equally guaranteed. Enjoy.