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TOKAJI'S TRIUMPHANT RETURN
Centurion Magazine
 
Centurion Magazine Royal Tokaji
 
SWEET LIFE: TOKAJI'S TRIUMPHANT RETURN
BY JEFFREY T. IVERSON - CENTURION MAGAZINE
THE TALE OF TOKAJ
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 for its pristine viticultural landscape, the storied region, which has been preserved for more than 1,000 years, boasts an otherworldly charm. Wine writers like Caroline Gilby even claim that arriving in the town of Tokaj after the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Budapest, one feels as if they'd "stepped into Tolkien's Middle-earth". There, where the rivers Bodrog and Tisza meet, visitors are surrounded by 5,500ha of vineyards and verdant, volcanic hills. Underground, and tunnelled into the hillsides, stretch kilometres of arched wine cellars, some dating back to the 13th century. As the world rediscovers Tokaji,it's becoming easier to visit this breathtaking region.
 
THE TIPSHEET
Overnights are best at GROF DEGENFELD CASTLE's charming hotel (hotelgrofdegenfeld.hu), or the stunning ANDRASSY REZIDENCIA WINE & SPA (andrassyrezidencia.hu). The region's many great wineries merit tours, and gastronomic restaurants nestled amid the vineyards include SARGA BORHAZ (sarga-borhaz.hu), the restaurant DISZNOKO (disznoko.hu) opened in the 19th-century press-house, and GUSTEAU (gusteaumuhely.com), an haute Hungarian restaurant at Szent Tamas winery.
 
BEHIND A NOBLE WINE....IS A NOBLE ROT
In rare micro climates (Sauternes, Neusiedlersee, Tokaj) the Botrytis cinerea fungus - from the Latin "grapes like ashes" - may attack vineyards, transforming grapes in appearance and flavour. Royal Tokaji Wine Enthusiast 2014 awards wine Tokaj wines As Botrytis penetrates a ripe grape the skin becomes permeable, turning pink, purple, and finally ashen brown. Juices evaporate, concentrating natural sugars to unnatural levels. The grape becomes shrivelled (aszu in Hungarian), multiple chemical transformations occur: acid levels change, new substances - glycerol, dextrine - develop. The juice remaining is infinitesimal, but powerfully honeyed, fresh, unctuous and complex - the essence of great Tokaji.
 
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