There are now more ways of communicating with people than ever before. Be it text messaging on your mobile phone or e-mail/Bulletin Boards, we have developed many new acronyms. One commonly used is “TIA”, which means “Thanks in advance”. Of course, I was reminded by a friend and medical doctor from Philadelphia that “TIA” in medical terms “transient ischemic attack”. This is a neurological term for a type of stroke (decreased blood flow to the brain which is temporary thought to be caused by constriction of blood vessels in the brain).
I work in finance and there can sometimes be similarities with words having different meanings in other fields. For example, a “put option” is an option contract that gives the holder the right to sell a certain quantity of an underlying security to the writer of the option, at a specified price (strike price) up to a specified date (expiration date). You can buy put options for securities in many markets all over the world. However, “puts” is also an abbreviation that I have heard used for the level of sweetness in Hungarian dessert wines.
My good friend Charles Morgan had very kindly invited me to a tasting of Hungarian Tokaji wines in Central London. The venue was the fine art deco antiques dealer of Alexander von Moltke, located near Sloane Square in central London. An enterprising Hungarian chap named Gyorgy Losonci had set up the tasting. He had arranged for a Hungarian Sommelier named Robert Tozser to present all of the wines to us.
It was exciting for me as I had not tried many Hungarian wines before, and even fewer from Tokaji. All in all, there were twelve Tokaji wines and eleven of them were in the sweet category. These included some very rare examples whose production even fell as low as 150 bottles! Considering that they were opening two bottles of each wine, we would be drinking about 1% of the total production of some of the wines!
There were about a dozen people who were able to make the tasting.
Here are some insights into the evening:
- At the start of the tasting, we were asked if we were allergic to penicillin. Fortunately none of us were as we would have had to miss the tasting. Apparently, the mould that forms when the sweet Tokaji’s are made contains high levels of penicillin and this can cause a reaction when the wines are drunk;
- Some of the sweetest examples, like the essezencia’s, had very low levels of Alcohol (circa 4%). This is because the high levels of sugar have not been converted to alcohol during the fermentation process.
- Towards the end of the tasting, one of the guys felt unwell and had to take a break and get some fresh air. Fortunately, he returned several minutes later with a smile on his face. He was fine. By the end of the tasting, all of my friends (and me) were certainly feeling ‘light headed’ having consumed so much highly concentrated sweet wine. I was certainly pouring away many of the generous pours, but here were very rare dessert wines and many of them tasted fantastic.
- Quote of the night from Linden, which was right at the end of the tasting once we knew the chap was fine. This was said in a joking manner: “If the penicillin doesn’t get you, the sugar will!”
The wines were served around 10C in the following order. My notes are posted in the Notes section.
1) 2002 Tokaji Furmint felszaraz Kiralyudvar (Tokaji, Hungary) - £24 (US$42, Euro 34)
2) 1983 Tokaji Szamorodni szaraz Szabo Daniel (Tokaji, Hungary) - £30 (US$53, Euro 42)
3) 1999 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Disznoko Kapi dulo (Tokaji, Hungary) - £38 (US$67, Euro 53)
4) 1998 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Majoros Laszlo (Tokaji, Hungary) - £43 (US$75, Euro 60)
5) 1993 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Disznoko (Tokaji, Hungary) - £51 (US$90, Euro 70)
6) 1996 Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos Royal Tokaji Birsalmas dulo (Tokaji, Hungary) - £37 (US$65, Euro 52)
7) 1996 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Royal Tokaji Betsek dulo (Tokaji, Hungary) - £44 (US$77, Euro 62)
8) 1972 Tokaji Aszu 6 puttonyos Oremus (To
Any difference between Tokaji before 1990s and Tokaji after 1990?
It’s too soon for me to tell as the younger versions need to age. Also, it does depend on the house style as more old-fashioned producers may continue their more oxidative styles of wine making.
You’re right. Which was your favourite?
My two favourites were:
1) 1993 Tokaji Esszencia Majoros Laszlo;
2) 1975 Tokaji Esszencia Oremus.
I tend to like my dessert wines to be sweet, and these also had amazingly long finishes. Almost perfect wines.