You need to kind of imagine the scene. I’m in the downstairs room of a wine bar in the fancy part of central London surrounded by Masters Of Wine and the great the good of the UK wine writing scene. We’re tasting our way through 20 vintages of Disznoko Tokaji, one of the most beautiful sweet wines produced in the world. Oh, and we’re getting fed a lovely lunch in a bit. All I could think was that it wasn’t the worst Monday morning I’d ever had!
Ok, so quick recap. Tokaji is a region in Hungary that for many years/centuries has become synonymous with superb sweet wines. It’s made in the “noble rot” method, as grapes are left on the vine to get infected with a fungus (eugh!), split open, and the water evaporates into the wind. What’s left is a really concentrated and sticky sweet grape juice that makes really concentrated sweet wine.
The whole point in tasting through different vintages is that the weather conditions aren’t always the same year on year. Some years you get lots of fungus, some years bugger all. If you don’t get any, you leave the grapes on the vine to shrivel which leads to sweet wine too, but it tastes different. Problem here was Laszlo, the very cool technical director of Disznoko (the producer), kept using the word “shrinkage”…I’m such a child, I was giggling all morning!
So what did I learn? Well there were big differences in the tastes from fungus years to non-fungus years, from hot years to cool years, but you don’t want me to babble on about my tasting notes here. The big take home is that the sweet wines of Tokaji are seriously high quality, and exceptional value, mostly cos no bugger is buying them! I think the recent vintages you’re looking at £30ish a bottle? I know that sounds punchy to the “under a tenner” brigade, but we’re talking special treat shit here! Do check them out.
FOOD PAIRING IDEA: We were trying these at the 28-50 bar in Mayfair, and my favourite pairing was the celeriac and gorgonzola soup. Tart and salty soup with an acidic and sweet wine, went great. Get googling the recipe!