Royal Tokaji
Royal Tokaji
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The Sweetest Thing
22 September 2014
Johnny Ray, The Field winewriter recommends Royal Tokaji Blue Label 2009 as “the sweetest thing”.

Royal Tokaji Blue Label 2009

While noble rot doesn’t sound palatable, Jonathan Ray explains how fungus and freezing conditions produce some of the world’s greatest wines

September and harvest time again. The grapes will be picked and pressed and their juice fermented and bottled, or allowed to mature in oak or steel. That’s another vintage done and dusted.

Well, not quite. Some grapes will be left, possibly until as late as December, before being picked. They’ll be allowed to shrivel on the vine and may even start to rot or be frozen solid. Only then will they be picked, pressed and the juice fermented.

Amazingly, these grapes will be responsible for some of the greatest wines in the world: a fine German trockenbeerenauslese; a top sauternes; or a rare-as-hen’s- teeth Tokaji essencia, celebrated both as an aphrodisiac and as a bringer-back-to-life.

I adore such sweet wines and rue the fact that they’re so grossly underrated. Part of the problem, I reckon, is that they’re usually referred to as dessert wines, which leads folk to think they can only go with puddings.

In fact, dessert wines are far more versatile than they’re given credit for. They’re the unsung heroes of the wine world, great on their own as a pick-me-up at elevenses; perfect with starters such as fried foie gras or rich pâtés; and, yes, they go brilliantly with puddings or as a post- prandial digestif.

Fine sweet wines are also spectacularly successful with strong cheeses. If you haven’t had a sweet Hungarian Tokaji 5 Puttonyos with little chunks of Mimolette très vieille or aged Gouda, then you haven’t lived. Both the wine and the cheeses have similar marmaladey, dried citrus peel notes and mingle in the mouth beautifully.

2009 ROYAL TOKAJI BLUE LABEL 5 PUTTONYOS ASZU (£12.29 per 25cl, Waitrose) A picnic-sized bottle full of barley-sugar sweetness.

To buy Royal Tokaji Blue Label 2009 online from Waitrose click here