2016 Royal Tokaji Aszú Assortment, 6 btl (1xMM,1xBetsek, 1xNyulaszo, 1xSzt. Tamas, 1xGold Lbl, 1xBlue Lbl)
About this WINE
The Royal Tokaji Company
The Royal Tokaji Wine Company was established in 1989 in the village of Mád in the Tokaji region and is a joint venture 63 local growers led by Istvan Szepsy, who was a descendant of the legendary Mate Szepsy, and foreign investors, among those, the celebrated wine author Hugh Johnson. Hugh has put all his effort into preserving the unique values of the Tokaji region to create high quality Aszú wines and pioneered the production of Single Vineyard wines. Today, The Royal Tokaji Company has become one of the most famous wineries in Tokaji.
Fine Tokaji wines became almost extinct when Hungary fell under Communist rule after the 1939-1945 war when quantity replaced quality. Their renaissance was triggered by the crumbling of Communism and the founding of The Royal Tokaji Wine Company in 1989, a joint-venture between local wine growers in the village of Mád and an inspired group of international investors.
The mission of The Royal Tokaji Wine Company was to restore quality and to make the finest wines of 5 “puttonyos” or more, so that once again Tokaji Aszu wines could be described in the hedonistic words of Louis XIV as, “The king of wine, and wine of kings”.
During 2009, on the eve of their 20th anniversary, the Royal Tokaji winery has undergone a metamorphosis which combines the best of tradition with the best of 21st century technology.
By contrast, in their vineyards and cellars the age old traditions of making Tokaji wines remain unchanged. The rotten, raisin-like Aszú berries are selected and picked one by one from bunches of grapes hanging on the vines in late autumn into wooden tubs known as “puttonyos”. A “puttonyo” holds 20 kilos of Aszú grapes and is used as the standard measure of the final sweetness in Tokaji wines. The wines are created in a unique two-stage process which gives them their magical combination of luscious richness and sensual acidity.
The intensely sweet juice gradually oozes from piles of Aszú berries and is added to small oak “gonci” casks filled with base wine of the previous year. This mixture is repeatedly stirred for two or more days to extract the maximum flavour and sugar from the Aszú paste and then left to ferment gently in Royal Tokaji’s deep, dark, damp underground cellars, a transformation which may take one or two years. Legally Tokaji Aszú wines must be aged for a minimum of three years, but Royal Tokaji prefer to set their own higher standards.
Essencia wines are made from the viscous honey-like Aszú juice only, and are fermented in the underground cellars in glass jars, a transformation which can take more than six years due to a combination of the extremely cold atmosphere and intensely high sugar level in the grape juice.
The Royal Tokaji range includes dry white Furmint, late harvest Ats Cuvee, 5 and 6 puttonyos Aszu blends and single vineyard wines, Aszu Essencia and very limited quantities of Essencia wines.
The Tokaj wine region lies 240 kms north-east of Budapest in Hungary, at the confluence of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers. Tokaj enjoys long sunny summers, while dry autumns and the early morning mists, created by the meeting of the two rivers, encourage the development of noble rot on grapes. The Botrytis Cinerea makes the berries dry and shrivel, thus concentrating the compounds and developing the Aszú grapes.
Furmint is the dominant grape in Tokaji, and Aszú in the name refers simply to the dried, nobly-rotted grapes, which are hand-picked from the vines. The number of puttonyos is an indication of sweetness, with 2 the driest and 6 the sweetest. A 3-Puttonyos Tokaji indicates at least 60g of residual sugar, 4 indicates at least 90g, 5 at least 120g and 6 at least 150g. From 2015 the new minimum is set to 130g of residual sugar per litre,and the 3 and 4 ‘Puttonyos’ categories are eliminated.
A wine of 7 puttonyos is known as Aszú Essencia and is only produced in the very best years. Aszú Essencia is incredibly sweet and is one of the greatest dessert wines in the world.
By the end of the 17th century, Tokaji aszu wines were so well regarded throughout the Royal Courts of Europe, that Prince Rakoczi was urged to classify all the finest vineyards around the 28 villages in the region. Thus, the Tokaj wine region has the distinction of being Europe’s first classified wine region.
A white grape variety grown in Hungary and Slovakia and the main ingredient of Tokaji Aszú. It is an early budding late ripening variety and and is particularly susceptible to botrytis.
Its wines are characterised by their high alcohol levels (sometimes as much as 14%) and their high acidity - it is the latter which gives Tokaji wines their longevity. It is most commonly planted in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region and is usually blended with Harslevelu and sometimes Muscat to produce Tokaji Aszú. The grape is also grown widely to produce acidic but sturdy dry white wine.
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This unique collection from the Royal Tokaji Company brings all the 2016 Aszú releases together. This six-bottle mix cases contains one bottle of each of the following:
2016 Tokaji Mézes Mály, 6 Puttonyos - 92 points
The 2016 Mézes Mály Great First Growth Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, which contains 180.9g/L residual sugar, is the one cuvée whose nose I could not quite work out at first. It needs a few minutes to really coalesce, eventually offering toffee apple, adhesive, lanolin and wood resin scents. Personally, I prefer the Betsek and then the Nyulászó on the nose. The harmonious palate is business as usual, featuring pure botrytized fruit, a superb bed of acidity, and orange peel, marmalade and a touch of lemon sherbet toward the persistent finish, where a welcome touch of bitterness lingers in the mouth. Maybe the nose just needs time. Drink 2025 - 2060
2016 Tokaji Betsek, 6 Puttonyos - 96 points
The 2016 Betsek First Growth Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos contains the most residual sugar this vintage, at 185.8g/L. The clean, pure bouquet offers dried honey, a light adhesive note, lanolin and candle wax, very complex and mercurial in the glass. The elegant, well-balanced palate features apricot, quince, marmalade and a touch of ginger. What I adore is the manner in which this Betsek builds in the mouth and fans out like a great Tokaji ought to. Another outstanding single-vineyard offering from the Royal Tokaji Company. Drink 2025 - 2065.
2016 Tokaji Nyulászó, 6 Puttonyos - 95 points
The 2016 Nyulászó First Growth Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, which delivers 180g/L residual sugar, has a deep, honeyed, slightly more introverted bouquet compared to the Ste. Tamás. It gradually reveals scents of manuka honey, orange pith and quince jus, yet it clearly deserves several years to really open. The palate is very well balanced, harmonious and brimming with tension. Pears, Seville orange marmalade, hints of mandarin and fresh figs vie for attention. This is a powerful, intense Tokaji, but razor-sharp, delivering real precision and "bite" toward the finish. Outstanding. Drink 2025 - 2060
2016 Tokaji Szt. Tamás, 6 Puttonyos - 92 points
The 2016 Szt. Tamás First Growth Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos contains 176.4g/L residual sugar and 9.9g/L total acidity. It is the palest of the four single-site Aszú wines from the Royal Tokaji Company, plus it is the only one that is 100% Furmint. The bouquet unfurls with clementines and quince, and touches of almond, popcorn and crushed stone - all very seductive. The palate is well balanced with a fine bead of acidity that lends outstanding tension from start to finish, flanked by a killer line of salinity. Very harmonious for sure, albeit without the substance and gravitas of the other three single-vineyard offerings. Drink 2022 - 2042
2016 Tokaji Gold Label, 6 Puttonyos - 94 points
The 2016 Gold Label Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, which delivers 188g/L residual sugar, is slightly more limpid in the glass than the Blue Label. The aromatics are also a serious and tangible step up, with much more Aszú character coming through: dried honey, a light adhesive aroma, orange pith and quince explode from the glass. The palate is ripe and viscous on the entry, then very fine acidity imparts great tension, particularly toward the finish. There is an underlying salinity at play that keeps the saliva flowing, yet unlike some botrytized dessert wines, this does not feel heavy or cloying in any way. Superb. Drink 2022 - 2050
2016 Tokaji Blue Label, 5 Puttonyos - 90+ points
The 2016 Blue Label Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, which contains 158g/L residual sugar, has an intense nose of dried honey, toffee apple, gingerbread, pumpkin and a touch of ripe canned peaches; I just would like a little more definition and focus. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, lightly spiced and showing a little more cohesion than the aromatics. I love the finish, which offers tangy Seville orange marmalade, quince and just a pinch of sea salt. I would give this a couple of years for the nose to coalesce. Drink 2022 - 2042
Neal Martin, vinous.com (Aug 2020)
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