In Hungary yesterday, I bought Tokaj Aszu wine. By buying four cases, I felt like I’d purchased a piece of the world-famous wine town of Tokaj itself.
The György Posta, Mayor of Tokaj, himself took me for wine tasting in the Imperial winery of Tokaj-Hetszolo. This is the most historic and picturesque winery in Hungary.
WINE OF KINGS & CZARS
Serious wine lovers know that the Tokaj Aszu is among the best dessert wines in the world. In fact, King Louis XIV of France described the Tokaj Aszu as the “wine of kings.”
Meanwhile Peter the Great of Russia loved drinking this wine too. He too used to send Russian soldiers to Hungary all the way from St. Petersburg just to pick up and guard barrels of Tokaj Aszu wines for his use.
Well, the Hetszolo winery is at the top of the Aszu pyramid.
ABOUT TOKAJ HETZOLO
The Tokaj Hétszölö vineyards and winery on Mount Tokaj is arguably the most prestigious in Hungary. The winery was founded in 1502 and it later became a property of the Hapsburgs . This is why it is considered an Imperial winery. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Hétszölö was the first winery to produce quality wines. It also became the most famous for Tokaj Aszu wines.
Tokaj Hétszölö is the most aristocratic of wineries in Hungary but a French winemaker actually owns it now. Michel Reybier, owner of Chateau d’Estournel, bought Tokaj Hétszölö and has invested capital to take it to the next level.
CELLAR OF KINGS
In Tokaj, Mayor Posta and I did our wine tasting in a dramatic ancient cave where King Charles III was proclaimed monarch of Hungary. This definitely added drama to an already very impressive tasting room.
The wine tasting experience was so nice that I felt like buying some Aszu wines at the end of it. So when Hétszölö said they would store my wines in their ancient cellar, I decided to buy a couple of cases of Tokaj Aszu wines from Hétszölö.
SHIPPING WINES FROM HUNGARY
“Anytime you need your wines, we can always ship them to you,” Kathryn, who works at the winery, said. “And in the meantime, they’ll be safe and sound in our caves.”
That sounded so nice. It felt like I owned a piece of Hungary, a country I love. So I asked: “Which is your best Tokaj Aszu?”
THE BEST TOKAJ ASZU
Everyone at the winery said that the Tokaj Aszu 6 puttonyos from 1999 was one of the best produced so far. For one thing, 1999 was a spectacular year for Aszu wines.
Moreover, in 1999, Hetszolo actually made three kinds of Aszu in the 6 puttonyos level. They made an Azsu from the furmint grape, and a rare one from the muscat grape, and another one from the classic Tokaj grape called harslevelu. I chose the latter because I liked the taste, and because this is generally considered to be the best choice among the three.
THE TOKAJ ASZU 1999, 6 PUTTONYOS
Most fine wine shops anywhere, whether in Budapest or London or Hong Kong, don’t even have a bottle of this in their cellars anymore. Moreover, even Hetszolo only has about 50 bottles left of this very special Aszu wine that can keep nicely even for 100 years.
WINEMAKER OF HETSZOLO
So I took four cases yesterday to place in their cellars. It seemed especially nice to do as I’d spent the day with the mayor and also met Gergely Makai, the chief wine maker of Hetszolo. In fact the wine maker said: “Next time you visit, please stay at the Hetszolo chateau as our guest.” #lucky
Before leaving, Kathryn asked: “Would you like me to place a note on your cases of wine? Lots of people place messages on their wines for personal reasons.”