Royal Tokaji
Royal Tokaji
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What to drink this week - Tokay
17 September 2015
Unique and eccentric, the intensely sweet wine Tokay is out to regain its former glory, says Harry Eyres in Country Life

Royal Tokaji Wines Royal Tokaji Essencia 2007

Tokay, made from partially shrivelled Furmint grapes in the remote north-east of Hungary, has long been one of the world's legendary wines. The greatest vintages, intensely sweet and able to age not just for decades, but for cent¬uries, used to find their way to the imperial cellars in Vienna and St Petersburg.

Then came Communism and a decline in quality as the wine was standardised. Since the early 1990s, private investment - from the Royal Tokaji Company, Oremus, and others - has come into the region, bringing a determination to match the magnificence of the past.

Why you should be drinking it

The taste of Tokay is difficult to describe - it's like a loft full of drying apples, pears and quinces, perhaps more complex and spicy than that of any other wine. There is also a combination of great sweetness and intense acidity, which gives the wine its ability to age.

What to drink

Eccentric in many ways, Tokay is graded by the number of puttonyos or baskets of botrytis-shrivelled grapes that are added to the fermenting wine. Five puttonyos means a wine of great richness and sweetness. Royal Tokaji's Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2009 (£12.29; Waitrose stores) is greenish-gold in colour and has wonderful fresh flowery aromas as well as intense spiciness and huge intensity on the palate.

Furmint from Tokay also makes fascinating dry wine: Royal Tokaji Mezes Maly Dry Furmint 2010 (£28.70; has intense saltiness and big body - smoky, spicy, fiery in the best Hungarian tradition.

To buy Royal Tokaji Blue Label 5 Puttonyos 2009 online from Waitrose click here

Click here to buy Royal Tokaji Blue Label 2008 online from Amazon