The Tokaj Renaissance Association held its annual public presentation of its wines last Friday in the Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest. This included an aszú tasting of the débutant 2007 vintage, and also a cheese-and-wine pairing course with Ronn Wiegand MW, MS of Tokaj.
My expectations were high, as 2007 was a really hot vintage in most of Hungary, thus we expected round, rich, and very palatable aszú wines with a relatively lower level of acidity, pretty much for hedonistic consumption now, than cellaring for decades. The 2004-5-6 vintages were not famed for producing easily approachable wines, probably 2003 being the last such year.
The producers told a tale about a mild winter, budding arrived early. After a long, hot summer came the fall with a sudden rush of rains and cold, but the vintage was saved by a long and warm Indian summer. Aszú berries were either plentiful, or just fine in quantity, depending on the actual location, but noone complained about the weather. Some producers compared the 2006-2007 vintages to the pair of 1999 and 2000, where a high acidity, top quality vintage was followed by a very warm, round and approachable vintage.
Either way, 2003 and 2000 are the most cited analogies for the 2007 vintages. You can read about a recent 10-years-after tasting of the 2000 aszús here, actually won by the odd 1999 competitor, and you can also find a top 1999 player with the pretty similar 1993er here.
We have also been presented the official Tokaj glass for aszús. A panel of 10 leading experts (mostly Hungarian AIWS, MW students, and Tokaj experts, plus perhaps a few foreigners, as far as I remember) choose a 420 millilitres Bordaux-style glass produced by Stölzl in a blind tasting event.
This was the glass to produce the most reliable tasting results for different kind of aszús, shifting them towards a reasonable equilibrium – both high acidity aszús for aging and cellaring, and also the ripe, ready-to-drink aszús of warmer vintages. The most spectacular performance was achieved by a slightly larger, ca 500 ml Bordeaux-stlye glass, transmitting most of the complexity and richness of these sweet, botritysed wines, but it did not work best for all wines in the tasting. Thus it came in second, but I still dare to recommend a big ass claret glass for Tokaj & Sauternes sweets, just to be on the safe side.
Anyway, here are the tasting notes, please take the scores as preliminary again.
1. Disznókő 5 puttonyos aszú 2007
A wine also tasted at the Tokaj vs Sauternes tasting, reproducing pretty much the same results here. The base aszú from Disznókő, with 70.000 (regular 0.5 litre Tokaji aszú) bottles produced.
Lemon hue, peaches and apricots on the nose, also dried. Pineapple, and a notch of tropical fruit. Round on the palate, with tamed, but still lively acidity, fruits dominate the flavours. Nice, smooth, well-composed, a fruit bomb with 90 points.
2. Béres 6 puttonyos aszú 2007
Mid lemon hue again, with a very reserved nose of peach and tropical fruit. Much more intensity on the palate, though, this is very appealing to me. Apples, peaches, tropical fruits are racing in my mouth again, with a bit more racy acids. They also contribute to the length and intensity of the wine, but do not turn excessive. Drinks very well despite the acids. I liked it, 91 points.
3. Chateau Dereszla 6 puttonyos aszú 2007
Dereszla has a policy of making the 5 puttonyos aszú as a domain wine, and the 6 puttonyos as a selection in all vintages. This puts production figures to 20.000 vs 3.000 bottles in 2007. This year’s 6 puttonyos aszú was mostly sourced from the 35-40-year-old vines in Zsadány.
Golden hue, with a pronounced nose of apples, peaches, dried apricots. A lighter mouthfeel, a not-so-huge body, a certain softness, but very much intense and thickness on the palate indeed. Cloves. A very long aftertastes stick in my mouth. 93 points at the end. Just simply great.
4. Patrícius 6 puttonyos aszú 2007, Várhegy vineyard (cask sample)
Mid golden hue, a hint of mustiness lingering above the glass. (The funny nose could perhaps be attributed to the fact this wine is a cask sample.) Apple & spice on the nose, mostly spice. Also on the palate. Bigger, thicker, rounder, and also slightly lazier. Concentrated, hardcore and really sweet. Deep hedonism. Very tasty, very creamy, with a really long aftertaste. I would drink it rather than cellaring it, but the winery director Mr. Peter Molnar suggests it has great potential, and a long life ahead.
Well, all aszús last for a decade at least, but I would definitely drink it in the first. I must have even more to learn than I thought before. Ca. 88 points altogether.
5. Tokaj Classic 5 puttonyos aszú 2007 (sourced from Király, Betsek, Juharos)
Shining golden hue, a grapey nose with some apples and a bit of nail polish. Probably even higher on volatile acidity than other aszús (they are always high on VA, due to the technology). Pretty much the same profile on the palate: muscat dominates, paint thinner seconds. A bit of mustiness appears on the palate, alos lingers on in the aftertaste.
An old-style aszú in a fruity coat, with slight missteps, making it shaky for me altogether. Definitely not a bad base material, but still weaker than its peers today. I would rather not score it – looks unsecure to me.
6. Nobilis 6 puttonyos aszú 2007
The winemaker Mrs. Sarolta Bárdos had a personal preference for the vintage, the 2007 aszús have charmed her previously. She rather compared the vintage to 2000 than 2003. This wine had a late harvest for its base wine, aszú berries were 70% furmint + 30% kövérszőlő.
Lemon-golden hue, lively & bright. A heavy nose, with ground sugar (sweet and has a certain ‘dustiness’), with dried apricots, and surprisingly dried cherries (or plums?) for fruits. Very round on the palate with a medium body, the flavours are also dominated by dried fruits. 90 point at first, that climed higher – a wine that drinks very well, and its qualities require concentration. Other people scored it at 92 immediately, it took me some time to recognize the good balance behind the smooth concentration, and the creaminess.
7. Royal Tokaji 6 puttonyos aszú 2007, Szent Tamás vineyard
Mid-deep golden hue. An interesting nose beginning with smoke and smoked fish(!). A bit of roast coffee, and surprisingly, some (for the lack of words) mineral notes. Slightly any fruit in sight, some quince and apples later. Lively acids on the palate, with a medium body, tastes pretty sweet despite the acids. A long finish of quince and roasted aromas. Reaches the 90 points barrier for sure.
8. Füleky 6 puttonyos aszú 2007
Mid-deep golden hue. Roasted aromas with quince, and a hint of petrol on the nose. Apples arrive later. Less acidity, and more sugar on the palate, a very round mouthfeel with dried apricots and sweetness. A long finish. A well-made clean wine with a big body, that drinks very well. 88 points.
9. Dobogó 6 puttonyos aszú 2007
A bright golden hue, with a heavy, direct grapey scent, probably for the muscat lunel, and some spiciness. Lively acids on the palate, still, it is well balanced. More intense on the palate, with sweet spices, vanilla, stone fruit & tropicals. I did like the taste and the raciness, plus its composure. 92 points.