Emmanuel Tresmontant - 2009-12-15
There’s nothing like a glass of fine Champagne to kick off a holiday feast like Christmas dinner, and nothing like a glass of fine Hungarian Tokaji, or Tokay, to end one.
Uncommon and relatively unnoticed by non-connoisseurs, this nectar of kings and tsars is still considered to be one of the world’s finest sweet wines. It was the first - well before Yquem in Sauternes - to be made from grapes infected with botrytis, also known as ‘noble rot.’ Its golden colour, freshness, intense aromas of apricot and honey and silky texture distinguish it and make it irresistible.
These days, Hungary’s finest Tokajis are made by István Szepsy, a brilliant and well-loved vintner whose ancestorsprovided Hungarian kings with wine as far back as three centuries ago! Sadly, Szepsy’s wines are rare and hard to come by; I would suggest instead that you look for the Tokajis produced by Bordeaux native Samuel Tinon, available in all the best wine cellars.
An adventurer at heart, Tinon learnt the ropes from István Szepsy. Today, this most Hungarian of Frenchmen is now perfectly bilingual; he tends five hectares of vines planted on the slopes of the Zemplén Mountains (the tail end of the Carpathians) and only harvests grapes with the highest concentration of sugar and acidity. His small-scale winery is housed in the medieval cellars of the village of Olaszliszka, 20 km from Tokaj.
Served with a chocolate-walnut dessert, his 2004 Hungarian 5 Puttonyos Tokajis are simply sublime. They are also a perfect complement for main dishes such as lobster with mushrooms and dried fruit, or game cooked with sautéed apples, pears and quince.
Hungarian Tokaji from Samuel Tinon