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Tokaj

The most famous wine Hungary is located after the city of Tokaj in the northeast of the country near the borders with Slovakia and the Ukraine named. The word "Tokaj" is probably of Hunnish-Turkish origin and means something like "forest by the river". It was first mentioned at the end of the 11th century in a chronicle describing the passage of a Cuman army across the Tisza river at "Thocoyd". King Václav IV (1235-1270) founded Hungarian viticulture on a larger scale, the first upswing in the Tokaj region in the 13th and 14th centuries. When the very first Tokaj Aszú was produced in its present form, it can no longer be ascertained, but it is certainly one of the first wines to botrytised very sweet Berries were won.

Tokaj vineyards in the second half of the 16th century and barrels

The story of the Tokay

There are many legends about the "invention" of the Tokay. Allegedly, a Tokaji Aszú was already presented in 1562 at the Council of Trent Pope Pius IV (1499-1565), whereupon he remarked: "Summum pontificem talia vina decent!" ("Such wine belongs to the papal table" or "wine Tállya belongs to the papal table "- because the word" talia "can mean" Tállya "but also" such "). Already in 1590 the term "Asszu szolo Bor" (wine from Aszúbeeren) appears in the posthumously published work "Nomenclatura" by Balázs Szikszai-Fabricius (+1576). And in 1635 on a list of Rákóczi cellar "7 barrel (the Göncer barrel was the standard size) and 2 Àntalag (= small barrel) Aszúszölö-Bor "(= Aszútrauben wine) mentioned.

The estate of Prince György Rákóczi I (1600-1660) also included Tokaj-Hegyalja Tokay. When around 1650 another Turkish raid was imminent, court tycoon Máté Szepsi-Laczkó decided with the vintage to wait until the danger is banned. During the long and sunny autumn, the berries began to shrink and the noble rot began. The winegrowers were instructed to harvest grapes from the vineyard Oremus to squeeze separately. At Easter of the year 1651, the first "Tokay eruption" (or as Trockenbeerenauslese the wine was called at that time) serves the princess Zsuzsanna Lorántffy. The Hungarians still honor Szepsi-Laczkó today as "Aszú inventor".

From the 17th century, the Tokay played an important role in many European courts. Royal lovers were Franz Joseph I, Maria Theresa Frederick the Great, Victoria I and William II. Many famous writers, poets and composers mentioned the Tokay in their works. That was Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Faust), Heinrich Heine (Book of Songs), Friedrich von Schiller (Wallenstein), Franz Schubert, Bram Stoker (Dracula), Johann Strauss son (bat), Theodor Körner (in a song), Nikolaus Lenau (Mishka on the Tisza) and Voltaire (Proof of God). In 1733, the Russian Tsar Court in the city of Tokaj set up its own wine purchasing commission. The Tsarina Elisabeth Petrovna Romanova (1709-1762) ordered by letter on November 8, 1745, a delivery of 375 barrels and noted as a postscript: "And if there is only one possibility, send at least three Antal (barrels of about 75 Liter), which I can not get anywhere here, where I can not be without the wine, as you know ".

Under her successor, Catherine the Great (1729-1796), there was a special Cossack detachment whose job it was to escort the supplies to their residence in St. Petersburg. The French Sun King Louis XIV. (1638-1715) awarded him the title "Vinum Regnum - Rex Vinorum", in German " Wine of Kings - King of Wines ". The Tokay was also often used as a diplomatic weapon. When the Turks were expelled from Budapest in 1686, Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II (1676-1735) wanted to establish the now liberated Hungary as an independent, national kingdom. In order to ally with Louis XIV, he sent this one noble Tokay from his estates. Emperor Franz-Joseph I (1830-1916) used the wine for diplomatic purposes, he greeted the English Queen Victoria (1819-1901) every year on their birthday with a broadcast Aszú.

The heyday of the Tokaj wine-growing and wine trade was in the heyday of the Rákóczi and Bercsényi ruling families in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this period, most of the innumerable wine cellars (counted 185 in Tokaj alone in 1967) were dug into the loess soils, for which there was a cellar digger's own profession. From the last third of the 18th century there was a decline, on the one hand by military events, whereby the vineyards remained unprocessed or destroyed, on the other hand by economically prescribed measures, especially in the reign of Maria Theresa (1717-1780). It was permitted only so much export of Tokaj wines, as was introduced to Austrian wines. In 1745, the Empress of the Russian Tsarina Elisabeth (1709-1762) sent 600 bottles of it. Pope Benedict XIV (1675-1758) also received a program, which thanked him with an extraordinary Quote,

Also, the wine counterfeiting that took place on a large scale in Hungary and many other countries in the 19th century contributed to the bad reputation of the Tokay. In wine books there were even detailed recipes, for example, was in a work from 1875: Take 100 liters of regular wine; 15 l of raisin essence; 0.5 l bitter almond essence; 0.1 l elderflower essence; 4 kg of sugar; 0.5 kg caramel; 4 kg glitter and 6 l 80% alcohol. At a wine merchant in Vienna-Döbling, such wine could be ordered waggon-wise at a ridiculous price. wine adulteration were then commonplace. During the communist period after the Second World War, there was a total decline of Tokay culture. Almost all major wineries were nationalized. It was cheap and produced as a mass wine. Today, the Tokay is experiencing a rebirth.

The Tokay region (Hungary and Slovakia)

The defined boundaries have changed several times over the centuries. The oldest documentary provenance dates back to 1641, at that time 12 municipalities counted to the closer Tokajer area. Today's wine-growing region Tokaj-Hegyalja (Hegyalja = located at the foot of the mountain or short Unterberg) was determined by the Hungarian Wine Law in 1997. The triangle-like area, about 60 kilometers long and about 30 kilometers wide, is located in the north-east of Hungary on the border with Slovakia and the Ukraine and includes the four cities of Sárospatak, Sátoraljaújhely, Szerencs and Tokaj, as well as 24 smaller municipalities.

But there is also a tokajerähnlichen wine outside of Hungary. This special status has a small area in the Slovakia, which is directly adjacent to the Hungarian area Tokaj-Hegyalja. Here, in the three communities Kistoronya, Szõlõske and the Slovak part of the municipality Sátoraljaújhely a wine produced according to Tokajer-Art. Slovakia relied on the wine law of 1908, when this area was still part of Hungary. After years of disputes in 2003, the two countries agreed that the wines produced within the approximately 200-hectare area may carry the Slovak origin "Tokajský".

Tokaj - Tokaji-Hegyalja vineyards and wine cellars at Abaújszántó

The eponymous city Tokaj is located at the confluence of Tisza and Bodrog near the Kopaszhegy (Kahlberg with 512 m). The area is bordered by the three rivers Hernád, Bodrog and Tisza (Tisza). These affect the specifically humid, the French Sauterne similar climate that the Botrytis (Nemes Penész) promotes. The climate is extreme, a cool and dry spring followed by a hot summer and then a wet, later dry and long sunny autumn. The vineyards cover about 6,000 hectares of vineyards. Only the wines from the approved varieties Furmint with 60% of the area, Hárslevelü with 25%, Muscat Lunel ( Muscat Blanc ) with 7%, Kabar, Kövérszölö ( Grasă de Cotnari ) and Zéta (Oremusz) may carry "Tokaji" in the label. Wines from other varieties such as Chardonnay may only bear the designation of origin "Zempléni" (Zemplín Mountains). The best locations are in Bodrogkeresztúr, Mád, Mezözombor, Tallya, Tarcal, Tokaj and Tolcsva.

The special wines are named after Winery, Buttenanzahl (Puttonyos) and Lage. If one wants to emphasize the origin, then one speaks z. From a Mádi Aszú (Aszú from Mád). The first traditional winegrowing system dates back to 1641, when Mád municipality had a 48-point regulation. Under Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II. (1676-1735) a detailed wine-growing order was published in 1700. At that time, the production of Aszú was probably easier than it is today. In a writing from the year 1758 it says: "After the spilled Aszú berries are poured with must, they are stirred well together and do not cover the tub too hard. After three to four days fermentation When the sweet juice of the berries has dissolved in the must, the mass is squeezed out by hand and the wine is left to ferment. "

In 1904, the publication of "exceptional measures for the Tokaj wine region", including a geographical demarcation with 33 villages in total, the mandatory requirement for the use of oak barrels and the absolute prohibition of the mixing of Tokaj wines with wines from other areas was included. Furthermore, only those wines were allowed to be called Tokay, whose vines from "mountainous vineyards" (ie hillside ). The wine law from 1997 declares Tokaj-Hegyalja as the only "closed" wine-growing region in Hungary. This means within this area a special protection and special requirements regarding winemaking, Treatment and distribution of Tokay.

The Tokaj wine types & production

The wines of Tokaj-Hegyalja are divided into three categories: quality wines (Minöségi borok) with, for example, the varietal wines Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelü, Tokaji Muskotály and Tokaji Zéta (Tokaji Oremusz). The maximum hectare yield is 100 hectoliters per hectare, the minimum must weight is 15 weight percent. This is followed by wines of special quality (Különleges minöségü borok) with the same wines but higher quality standards. The maximum hectare yield is 75 hectoliters per hectare, the minimum must weight must be 19 ° KMW or 95 ° Oechsle. These wines are made from mature or overripe grapes. The highest class are wine specialties (Borkülönlegességek) with the variants Tokaji Máslás, Tokaji Forditás, Tokaji Szamorodni, Tokaji Aszú, Tokaji Aszú-Eszencia and Tokaji Eszencia (Nektár). These wines are blended from the varieties Furmint and Hárslevelü and Muskotály (rarely in Aszú).

Máslás : This simplest of all Tokaj wines has been known since the mid-16th century. The name derives from the Polish word "Mászló" (butter) because the wine has a buttery Taste possesses (to Poland were exported from the 16. Century large quantities Tokajer wines). A Máslás is still a lot better in quality than one that is often produced at that time Piquette, Most or young wine is poured into the pomace residue of Aszú or Szamorodni wines and the alcoholic fermentation is initiated. He has to mature for two years, including one year in a wooden barrel. Mostly it is not bottled at all, but marketed in large containers.

Forditás (English twist): This wine was first mentioned in the 19th century. On the pressed out Aszú-dough (grape porridge) Most or young wine of the same vintage is poured. He has to mature for two years, including one year in a wooden barrel. In part, the wine is also used for the Aszú. Good qualities last up to 15 years.

Föbor (German main wine): This very old wine category was reactivated. It is, so to speak, a Szamorodni without its obligatory maturity.

Szamorodni: The first mentioned in 1828 name means "as grown". This refers to the fact that no Aszú berries are picked, but all berries are processed. A minimum amount of noble rot berries must be present, from the quantity depends also the quality. The wine stays on the mash for 24 to 36 hours and is then pressed. He has to mature for two years, including one year in a wooden barrel. There are sweet (édes) and dry (száraz) varieties. The sweet Szamorodni must be at least. 30 g / l residual sugar, 25 g / l sugar-free extracts and 13% vol alcohol content - the dry only 25 g / l extracts and 13% vol. The dry one resembles one sherry, the sweet one outbreak, In the sweet varieties of residual sugar fermented very slowly to alcohol, so often after a few years of dry types. The wines last up to two decades.

Tokaji Aszú (Slovak Tokajský Výber): name for the famous, noble sweet Tokaj wine. The term derives from aszalt (dry or dried) and refers to the botrytis Berries used for production or prescribed in this condition. In principle Aszú corresponds to the wine related to the German term Trockenbeerenauslese or (only in Austrian Burgenland common) outbreak, The Tokaj Aszú is thus made exclusively from overripe, by Botrytis infected berries, which are manually selected or selected individually. The berries are stored in wooden tubs and recently in plastic containers. By its own weight the Escenzia flows down.

When this is removed, the grapes are pounded into a doughy porridge (sometimes still with the feet), whereby the grape seeds can not be crushed. Then the quantity of three to six puttonyos (buttes between 24 and 28 kg) 136 liter (volume of a Göncer barrel) young wine of the same vintage is poured. Some wineries count in hectoliters and each butte with 20 kilograms Aszú porridge. In an Aszú with six Puttonyos the Aszú-Neuwein ratio is about 1: 1. The mixture is then allowed to soften for 18 to 48 hours with occasional stirring. This releases the sugar from the grapes.

The above floating grape seeds are removed. Then it is pressed and the must in wooden barrels for the fermentation bottled. Today, mainly the Szerednyeer barrel (200 to 220 liters) and more recently barriques (225 liters) is used - the historic Göncer barrel (Gönci hordó) with a volume of 136 to 145 liters is hardly to be found anymore. Little or very little sulfur is used to form acetaldehyde to avoid. In the cool cellars with high humidity up to 98% is a very slow fermentation. Traditionally, this is oxidative - that is, under some contact with oxygen by never filling up the barrels. This gives the wine the traditional character - a bit similar to one Madeira or sherry,

Recently, however, experimented with reductive expansion. The subsequent maturing takes place again in the already mentioned barrel types. The alcohol evaporating in small quantities through the wooden walls may be topped up with Tokay brandy (about 0.5 to 1% alcohol per year) - but not including Spriten to understand. The Tokay used to be ripened for so many years when it contained butten. Today, the wine law prescribes at least three years, of which two years in oak barrels. Only then will the wine be bottled. The best Tokay are kept for a very long time, ancient bottles are under a thick layer of mold, the corks are renewed every 25 years. There are already 300-year-old Tokay found in the best shape.

botrytised grape and eszencia bottle

Aszú-Eszencia: This latest level of quality was first created in the 20th century. The meaningfulness is partly denied, even the name causes the wine is often confused with the Escenzia. They wanted to build in between the 6-buttigen Aszú and the highest level Escenzia an additional level. In the Hungarian Wine Law of 1977, he is defined as "outstanding Aszú wine from a prime location and excellent vintage". However, since there are no classified locations in Hungary (noh), the definition was somewhat inaccurate - in the latest wine law in 1997 this is not mentioned anymore. At least the same conditions apply as at Aszú. The botrytised berries must have a sugar content of at least 180 g / l. The crushed berries must be poured and fermented with must or new wine of the same vintage. The wine has to mature for five years (three of them in wooden barrels). The label does not list the number of puttonyos.

Eszencia: This specialty is also called nectar and was first mentioned in 1707. In the 19th century he was referred to in German literature as the "Tokay eruption essence". In ancient times, Eszencia was not considered wine, but rather as a medicine. In most cases, Eszencia was also given back to Aszú (if this was not done, it was referred to as "castrated Aszú"). This is still practiced today by most wineries. In the 17th century, even bottling and selling were temporarily prohibited by law. The exclusively noble rot berries are individually picked by hand and collected in wooden vats. By its own weight flows down the syrupy Escenzia. Due to the extremely high sugar content of 60% to even 80%, fermentation often takes 10, 15 and even 20 years. The dark-colored wine has a honey-like consistency and has only a low alcohol content of at least 5 to a maximum of 8 percent. This precious rarity is often served by the glass in wineries.

The Szamorodnis and Aszús are traditionally filled in white, long-necked bottles (with indentation in the bottom) with 0.5 liter, but there are many other bottle shapes and sizes, because the Hungarian wine law (too) leaves a lot of leeway. In ancient times, one to five-buttige Tokaj Aszú were produced, later reduced to two- to five-buttige. Around the year 1790, the six-buttige Aszú was created and the two-buttige was omitted, because good Szamorodnis came very close to it in terms of quality. The two-butters were still produced until the second half of the 20th century. The wine law from 1997 provides only three to six-buttige before. The number of Puttonyos is only included in the Aszú on the bottle label. The quality levels with the minimum content of sugar (1) and sugar-free extract (2) in grams per liter are:

  • 2 Puttonyos Aszú: is no longer produced
  • 3 Puttonyos Aszú: 60 - 30
  • 4 Puttonyos Aszú: 90 - 35
  • 5 Puttonyos Aszú: 120 - 40
  • 6 Puttonyos Aszú: 150 - 45
  • Aszú-Eszencia: 180 - 50
  • Eszencia: 450 (formerly 250) - 50

Under the misleading name Tokajer, Tokayer or similar, grape varieties and wines were produced all over the world until recently. In the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia there was the grape variety Tocai Friulano ( Sauvignonasse ) and in French Alsace a Tokay d'Alsace as a synonym for Pinot gris, Overseas has always been used not only Tokay but also other well-known wine-growing areas such as Bordeaux abusive. All these designations had to be changed after the decision of the European Union or also on the basis of international agreements from the year 2007 onwards. The protected name Tokajer may only be used for the Hungarian and Slovak originals.

The Tokay producers

Founded in 1995, the association "Tokaj Renaissance" is dedicated to the care and culture of wine. Well-known producers include Andrássy, Árvay, Béres, Bodrog Várhegy. Château Megyer. Château Pajzos, Dereszla, Disznókö, Dobogó, Gróf Degenfeld Hétszőlő, Monyók, Oremus, Pannon Tokaj, Patrícius, Royal Tokaj, Szepsy István, Tokaj Classic Winery and Tokaj Kereskedőház. On a label the following saying is to be found: Aki e üvegböliszik annak kivantatik, hogy a Borok Kiralyanak aranyfenye emlekeztesse a hegyaljai tajra, ahol immar ezredik eve ragyog a szölöt greener a Nap! Kivantatik, hogy a Kiralyok Boranak, legendas gyogyhatasa kedves egeszsegere valjek). In German, this means: "Anyone who drinks from this bottle would like to be reminded that the golden splendor of the King of Wines reminds him of the landscape of Hegyalja, where for a thousand years the sun shines on the vines. May the legendary healing effect of the kings' wine be transmitted to his health " . The Tokay region finally became UNESCO in 2002 World Heritage appointed.

Main Source: The Tokaj Book - Michael Sailer (Michael Sailer-Verlag Munich)
Tokay Area: By Georg Hoefnagel - Own Scan, Public domain, Link
Barrels: By Zoltan Szarvas on Pixabay
Tokaji-Hegyalja Vineyards: From Unknown, CC BY-SA 2.5 , Link
Wine Cellar: By Verita - Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link
Grapes: CrazyD - Self-photographed , CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link

Eszencia: From Eszencia.jpg , CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link

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