n Hungary, apart from Tokaji, few wines of real quality have been produced. Again, investment has been centred on the bottom of the market. There is potential, particularly with the reds from the southern Villány-Siklós region. Tokaji, though, is a different matter. Investment aplenty has flooded into the region and some of the results are stunning.
All Tokaji is based on the Furmint grape, but usually including a smaller amount of Hárslevelú (the two varieties account for 90% of the vineyard area) and . The great sweet wines are Aszú wines, derived from dried (usually botrytised) grapes but only make up a very small percentage of the region’s production. Individual berries are made into a paste-like consistency which is soaked in the must before completing fermentation in casks. The level of puttonyos now reflects a minimum level of sugar and extract in the wine, ranging from 3 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos. The degree of oxidation that occurs with ageing has been much reduced by many of the new school of producers with the result that the wines are now altogether fresher, more intense and with some truly splendid botrytis character in the best examples. The top names are Disznókö, Oremus, Istvan Szepsy, Royal Tokaji and Tokaji Classic but Château Megyer, Château Pajzos and Crown Estates are also decent sources. Szepsy even makes a sweet example following more classic reductive winemaking practices (labelled Noble Late Harvest). Essencia (Eszencia) refers to wines of higher than 6 puttonyos and is made from the most concentrated juice that is characterized by its low alcohol and exceedingly high residual sugar levels. It also characterised by high acidity and potential longevity.
Good dry whites which are made and labelled varietally are also on the increase. Those from Furmint show the greatest promise. Also occasionally encountered is Szamorodni, a dry or off-dry style of higher alcohol and extract due to the inclusion of some botrytised fruit.
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Istvan Szepsy (Tokaji)
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Tokaj Classic (Tokaji)