Today we are delighted to release the newest vintage of The Royal Tokaji companies’ world class Essencia, a wine so rich, powerful and oozing with lushness that the single bottle case comes with a spoon, because it is all you need, given its incredible, incomparable complexity. The 2008 vintage release is only the sixth release in the modern Era. The 2007 was awarded 100 points by Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate and trades at £2,500 per case of 6×37.5cl, the unscored 1999 trades at £3,000. The newest vintage, the 2008 has been awarded 97 points by Neal Martin who describes it as ‘an otherworldly feat of nature. I actually shared the remaining bottle with winemakers from Argentina and Portugal in Hong Kong and they became wide-eyed with amazement. That’s the magic of Essencia. It might constitute blasphemy, but the freshness means you can enjoy this now, or as my drinking window suggests, wait another 100 years, as temporally fantastical as that sounds.’
We are pleased to be able to offer the Essencia today at £1,875 per case of 6×37.5cl, or £325 per single bottle, which comes beautifully packaged as above. Of Royal Tokaji Martin also declares it as having a finish ‘longer than Wagner’s Ring Cycle’, he also suggested a single bottle and a coravin would allow you to give generations of your family the chance to try this truly magnificent wine.
We are also equally delighted to offer the epitome of their Puttonyos wine, the very pinnacle of their raison d’etre. Royal Tokaji Szt Tamas 6 Puttonyos 2007, which given the prices comparison below, looks like outstanding value. Szt Tamas is the hallmark of voluptuous apricot and plum jam intermingled with tobacco and chocolate. It is a 12 hectares South West facing single vineyard that is the very core of their vineyards. The 2007 has been awarded 95 points and costs £275 per case of 6x50cl. The 1993 vintage received the distinction of being included as the top 100 wines in the world that ‘you should drink before you die’. The 2007 offers an incredible opportunity to own one of the finest sweet wines in the world, from the very epitome of the Royal Tokaji range.
Tokaji needs little introduction, but some explanation. It has a long, famous history; legend has it that the first aszú was made by Laczkó Máté Szepsi in 1630. In fact, at the end of the 17th century, the quality of Tokaji aszú was so highly regarded in the Courts of Europe that Prince Rakoci requested a classification. As such, Tokaji was the first wine to be given an appellation control, created decades before that of Port and over 120 years before the youngster Bordeaux. The classification consisted of the finest vineyards around 28 villages, creating: Great First Growths, First Growths, Second Growths and Third Growths: sound familiar?
Under the banner of the Hapsburgs empire, Tokaji flourished further, however, the Great War and II World War divided and destroyed much of the region and its population. Fine Tokaji wine almost disappeared when Hungary fell under Communist rule, where quantity replaced quality. The demise of Communist rule triggered a movement to bring the great wine of this region back and in 1989 in the village of Mád, The Royal Tokaji company was established. It was formed as a joint venture of 63 local growers, led by Istvan Szepsy, descendent of the aforementioned Laczkó Szepsy. It was helped along by international investors, driven largely with Hugh Johnson MW, the famous English Wine Writer. Johnson focused his efforts on preserving the unique values of the Tokaji region. He helped to re-create the high quality aszú wines and pioneered the creation of Single Vineyard wines. The mission of The Royal Tokaji Company was to restore the majesty of 5 puttonyos wines, or higher, recreating the quality that Louis XIV described as “The king of wine, and wine of kings”. Today, The Royal Tokaji company is the most famous winery in the region. Tokaji is even mentioned in the Hungarian national anthem.
All of the natural conditions remain despite the years of barren high quality, with Tokaji traditionally grown on a small plateau 450 metres above sea level, near the Carpathian Mountains, which protect this sweet wine paradise. The soil here is of volcanic origin, with a high concentration of iron and lime. Winters are very cold and windy, spring generally cool and dry, while summers are hot. Usually Autumn brings some rain, which is followed by an Indian summer, permitting long ripening periods. These conditions result in botrytised, noble rot grapes, which explains the word aszú, which means dry in Hungarian.
While the recent renaissance has brought in a new and exciting era, the traditions that established Tokaji splendour persist, both in the vineyards and the winery. Aszú berries are picked individually by hand, collected into wooden tubs, called puttonyos. Each puttonyo holds 20 kilos of aszú grapes, which is used as the final measure of the sweetness of the grapes, the higher grade of puttonyos the sweeter and more concentrated. A unique two stage process then follows that accentuates the luscious fullness and delightful acidity. Firstly, the intensely sweet juice which oozes from the berries is placed in a small oak cask, called a gonci, which is filled with base wine from the year before. This is stirred for at least two days, extracting flavour and sugar from aszú paste. This paste is then left to ferment in their deep, damp underground cellars, which can take up to two years. As hard as the yeast may huff and puff, it rarely gets the wine to 4% and retains between 450 – 850 grams a litre of residual sugar. The minimum legal ageing period for this wine is then three years, but Royal Tokaji surpass this, marching to the beat of their own ageing drum. The result is something quite different from anything you have ever tasted, the most dense, powerful mouthfeel of any drink in this world, you have to try it, on a spoon, to believe it.
Essencia wines are made solely from the viscous juice, with no base wine added. It is fermented in the underground cellars in glass jars, which can take up to six years, with the hard-working little yeasts trying to make their way through the intense honey-like paste and slowed down further by the cold atmosphere and extremely high sugar content. The result is a stunning complexity that surpasses even the 6 Puttonyos, yet still maintaining acidity.
Royal Tokaji Essencia 2008
97 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The latest release, the 2008 Tokaji Essencia from the Royal Tokaji Wine Company, was tasted over a period of three days. It is clearly cut from a different cloth to the 2007, disproving the idea that wines of such extraordinary sweetness conform to type. It is lighter on the nose than the 2007, with freshly cut tangerines, apricot and orange zest. There is a brightness here, a sense of energy. The palate is founded upon energy and tension, a silver thread of acidity that cuts through the layer upon layer of orange zest, Japanese yuzu, tangerine and honey. This is an elegant and you might argue, more “reserved” Essencia compared to the 2007. The alcohol is slightly higher at a “whopping” 4%, a relatively easier Essencia to consume compared to the unctuous previous vintage. While it might not achieve the concentration of the 2007, the 2008 Essencia remains an otherworldly feat of nature. I actually shared the remaining bottle with winemakers from Argentina and Portugal in Hong Kong and they became wide-eyed with amazement. That’s the magic of Essencia. It might constitute blasphemy, but the freshness means you can enjoy this now, or as my drinking window suggests, wait another 100 years, as temporally fantastical as that sounds. Tasted November 2016.
6×37.5 – £1,875 IB
1×37.5 – £325 IB
Royal Tokaji Szt Tamas 6 Puttonyos 2007
95 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2007 Tokaji Aszu Szt Tamas 6-Puttonyos has perhaps the most complex bouquet of the three single-vineyard aszu wines, adorned with dried honey, Japanese yuzu, just a hint of petrol and stewed mandarins that are all beautifully defined. The palate is extremely well-balanced with wonderful acidity that is embroidered through the pure mandarin, honey, quince and lemon peel. It is very focused with a tense, mineral finish.
6×50 – £275 IB
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