MS Topic of the Week 11/6/2019 - Introductory & Certified

Thanks to  and  for the Savennières breakdown last week. I'd add that the soils there are much different from Vouvray or Montluis in that they are a dark volcanic versus tuffeau.

This week: Aszú essencia

How is this viscous, honey like, organoleptic explosion made? What grapes are used?

  • From six main varietals comes Aszú essencia: Furmit, Hárslevlü, Sárga Muskotály, Kövérszőlő, Zéta, and Kabar. By law, only white varietals are allowed to be planted in Tokaji, with Kabar being the newest addition in 2006. 

    The meeting of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers in Tokaji creates a mist similar to that of the fog in Sauternes. This mist encourages botrytis cincerea aka "noble rot", which as it spreads covers them and shrivels them which encourages a higher percentage of sugar in the grapes. Grapes that are affected by botrytis are commonly referred to as Aszú in Hungarian. 

    The berries arrive back at the winery and are crushed, this thick syrupy paste is added to the current vintage's base wine(wine made without the spread of botrytis) and this mixture is stirred for two days. After this, it is then transferred to gönci where the second fermentation takes place. Cold cellar temperatures make this process very slow going and can take anywhere from several months to several years. Legally, Tokaji Aszú wines must be aged for a minimum of 3 years prior to release, and Royal Tokaji is typically aged longer, which includes some time in oak.

  • Also the Aszú grapes must be hand harvested, with the Aszú grapes and unaffected ones being picked at the same time, but kept separate. Any sort of enrichment or sweetening is not allowed, as well as bottling outside the Tokaji PDO.

    Thanks for the introduction to the word organoleptic! 

  • Ascu Essencia is the free run juice before pressing, gathered, separated from the rest of the cuvee.Its fermentation may take several years to complete and resultant alcohol usually hovers around 3-4 %. Residual sugar conversely can be as high as 80%. legends have been circulated about its restorative and curative powers, and it is not surprising that it used to be reserved for consumption boy royalties.