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 :)