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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Friends, it’s time to end the journey through the white wines of France, the United States, and Germany. The last wine in our journey is a Tokaji from Hungary.

One Wine, Tasted Alone: 2000 Disznókő Tokaji 5 Puttonyos

The nice thing about Tokaji is that a bottle of first-growth Tokaji costs less than a second label from a fifth growth in Bordeaux. Like Amarones, Sauternes, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Beerenauslese, Tokaji is a wine made with the help of the noble rot, allowing the grapes all but decompose on the vine before harvesting. Unlike the other wines, the grape used in Tokaji is Furmint.

If you haven’t tried a Tokaji, you should. A good one can be had for $20. A great one can be had for $50. They’re typically rather sweet, but the better ones have a nice balance of complexity and acidity to offset that (avoid Pajzos Eszencia if you’re wary of the sweetness … also avoid it because it costs half a grand, and screw that). They usually come in 500mL bottles, but that’s okay too, because with the residual sugar, that’s still a lot.

Anyhow, I generally hate sweet and dessert wines. I grew up in Michigan, which is replete with sugary piss wine not worth further discussing. With exposure to some of the more classical sweet wines, however, such as those of Germany, Alsace, and Hungary, I’m coming to respect that there’s something to the better-made examples. There are, in fact, age-worthy wines made that are rich in structure and balance.

Right, anyway. This bottle is deep amber. Aromatic, it smells of apricots, honey, mushrooms, bourbon, and botrytis. It’s very sweet, full-bodied, and comes with a fresh acidity. Balance is good, though not perfect — it could use just a bit more acid to soften the sweetness. As it warms, the balance improves (the wine is targeted for service at cellar temperature (52-55 degrees F), not the much colder temperatures more traditional of white wines), with the residual sugar becoming less noticeable in favor of a crisp acidity.

The flavors are intense and powerful. Golden raisins, honey, passion fruit nectar, clover, bitter orange, spice, vanilla, bitter orange … it’s all there. If you’ve ever had an exceptional sweet vermouth, this is reminiscent of that. Imagine a well structured dessert wine version of Carpano Antica, and you’ve got the right idea.

And with that, here’s to the red wines of Burgundy, where we shall soon find ourselves.