I have to admit I do not read as much as I should. Most of the time I read only the news or scientific papers at work, but not novels in my spare time (in my what?), although I like reading. In the first years of secondary school, I was one of those guys whose library card had to be replaced several times during the year, as it always got filled up pretty quickly. But now I am mostly just too lazy to find a new book and start reading. Still, once in a while I run into a good novel, and then I really can not put it down. Yesterday I was helping with the painting at Tijl’s house (if I have no future in astronomy, I am a good painter too, as it turned out), then we went out for dinner (I had the best pasta of my life, seriously – such a shame I did not manage to finish it…), and although I felt tired, I kept reading my book till 1 AM… It is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, and although I am only at page 250, I love it. It is the perfect story: a bit of history (jews and World War II), and a bit of romance (I like that), all well written. Oh, and some of the main characters are Hungarians ;) I first saw the book on Amazon while I was observing on La Palma in October, then when I was visiting my parents, I bumped into the Hungarian translation in the book store, so we bought it. Normally I would prefer the original language (especially in English speaking movies), but when you do not use your mother tongue 95% of the time, then it feels really good to read something in that language richer in words than the daily news…
And what can be better than enjoying a good book? Enjoying a good book with a glass of great wine (and matching background music). For that purpose, I have opened a bottle of Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2009. It is a very nice, sweet dessert wine, check out the official site for the tasting notes. I am no expert in wines, but I am very picky when it comes to alcohol, and this is a very pleasing wine. And it is much cheaper than my other favourites from the same vineyard… If I remember correctly, a 500 ml bottle is only a bit more than 8 €. I should not forget to bring some reserves after Christmas.
I was always a fan of sweet white wines, although I can enjoy dry and/or red wines too. When I came back from Hungary, I wanted to bring something special and truly Hungarian, so (among others) I grabbed a bottle from the most famous type of Tokaji (link to a really detailed Wikipedia article about the wine region, the wines, history and almost everything you may be interested in). After the must have Wikipedia article, I suggest you to read a nice and short review from The New York Times: Hungary Returns to a Sweet Past. Of course I had to make some background research to pick up the best one, so I checked the most recent Top 100 lists from the Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Spectator. As there was only one Hungarian wine on both of the lists, the choice was clear and easy.
Royal Tokaji Aszú 5 puttonyos 2005
The Royal Tokaji Wine Company, founded in Hungary in 1990, has become one of the most defining wineries in Tokaj. Acknowledged as one of the region’s top winemakers, Karoly Ats combines traditional techniques with modern technology to create the award-winning Royal Tokaji range of wines. (For more information about the company, visit their English only website – yeah, they do not have a Hungarian site…)
Aszú wines are special sweet white wines (remember the Wikipedia article). This perfectly balanced 5 puttonyos wine is now widely available throughout the world. Royal Tokaji’s 1st growth Nyualszo vineyard is the benchmark for quality. As in all aszu wines, the three grape varieties are Furmint, Harslevelu and Muscat de Lunel. The characteristics are a vivid gold colour with honeyed apricot and orange peel flavours which are uplifted with dramatic acidity.
Please read the special notes on the year 2005 on the website of the company. Tasting notes: A medium golden amber colour, on the nose showing orange peel, mint, figs and cinnamon. The palate is sweet and rich with cinnamon, apple, coupled to grapefruit aftertaste. Its sugar (148 g/liter) is well balanced with fine acidity which leads to a clean and refreshing, long finish. Will continue to improve over several years. But I can assure you, that it’s already fantastic! The best wine I have ever tasted. And the first from the Top 100, as it is the number 42 on the list of Wine Enthusiast (93/100 points) and number 44 on the list of Wine Spectator (94/100 points). The price for a 500 ml bottle is 18.3 € in a Duty Free Shop at Budapest International Airport and 41 $ on the Internet. Serve slightly chilled at 12°C – 15°C in white wine or large port glasses. Enjoy with foie gras and asian fusions, with dry and blue cheeses or with fruit and chocolate desserts. Or enjoy instead of a dessert :)