Tokaj Wine District in the Northern Hungary Wine Region:
Tokaj-Hegyalja or Tokaj is Hungary's most famous wine region and home of the royal Tokaj Aszú sweet wine. The region lies on the edge of the great Hungarian plain, dominated by the extinct Tokaj volcano and the Zemplen Hills. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002, on account of its viticulture traditions and landscape. The region also has a variety of dry and semi-sweet wines. Grape varieties include Furmint, Hárslevelü, Zéta, Kabar, and Muscat.
The world famous sweet Aszú style dessert wine is made from late-ripened grapes covered by Botrytis cinerea. This is a mold,
often referred to as "noble mold", that concentrates grape sugars and flavors into apricot and honeylike sweetness.
The beauty of the sweet Aszú wines is their high acidity. The sweet honey and apricot flavors on the palate dissapate
and are followed by a smooth, clean citrus finish; never leaving an overly sweet taste in the mouth. The high acidity also
allows the wine to age forever.
The Aszú wines are measured by the number of puttonyos of Botrytis grapes used during the wine making process; generally 1 to 6 puttonyos. A puttonyos is a 25 kg basket used during grape harvest. The long, sunny and humid autumns encourage the Botrytis, but not every year produces enough Botrytis to make high quality Aszú wines. Thus, increasing the value of these cherished Aszú vintages. The most prized Aszú is Eszencia, above 6 puttonyos of Botrytis grapes and aged in oak barrels. Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos typically contain around 150g/l of residual sugar while Eszencia, can be as high as 180g/l to 250g/l of residual sugar.
Tokaj has the world's oldest classification system that dates back to 1772, and the production of wine is the most regulated. This system has succeeded in keeping the noble Hungarian varieties of Furmint and Hárslevelu", whereas other Hungarian indigenous varieties have lessened in production and notoriety.