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The Sensory Appeal of Tokaji

By Karen MacNeil
December 31, 2015

Wholly unique. Widely misunderstood. Genius.

Tokaji is as savory and refreshing as it is sweet. Indeed, the wine may well be the most truly balanced wine in the world for, in the same split second, it registers on every sensory dimension currently known: sweet, salty, tart, spicy, bitter, and savory. (Which is why you can drink it anytime—including as an aperitif).

I don’t get the opportunity to taste Tokaji that often, but when I do, I jump at the chance. Here are my thoughts on the just released 2008 vintage of the Royal Tokaji Company wines that I tasted recently with Ben Howkins, co-owner with several others (including the eminent English wine authority Hugh Johnson).

ROYAL TOKAJI COMPANY Red Label 5 Puttonyos 2008
The flagship wine of RTC is full of savory and spicy flavors with exquisite bitter orange marmalade flavors. 90 Points

ROYAL TOKAJI COMPANY Betsek 6 Puttonyos 2008
An easy-to-love favorite, this tokaji is from Betsek, the largest of RTC’s “First Class” vineyards. Its precision is icicle-sharp. Lots of energy and edginess here. Long and vivid with an especially appealing salty, orange peel tanginess. And a rich sappiness in the middle. 93 Points

ROYAL TOKAJI COMPANY Szt. Tamás 6 Puttonyos 2008
The “First Class” vineyard known as Szt. Tamás is full of reddish clay and volcanic rock. Botrytis develops easily in this vineyard, and the wines always have a distinct personality of orange peel, spices and a certain custardy richness. The texture is particularly “fat” and sappy. 92 points

Pronounced “meshes my,” and meaning “honey pot,” Mézes Mály is the name of one of the “Great First Growths” in Tokaji. An exquisite drinking experience, the wine is like ethereal droplets of sensation taking over your mind as well as your palate. 97 Points