While Tokaj aszú is the undisputed ruler of the Tokaj wines, known for its liquid gold colour and complex sweetness imparted from its “noble rot”, the area boasts a spectrum of wines, each with their own complex characters and distinctive aromas.
The unique qualities found in the wines from the Tokaj region arise from a delicate mix of factors: its grapes, which come from the east and are likely to have originated from the Caucasus region, rather than being of Roman origin as in the rest of Hungary; its volcanic terroir; its microclimate; and the care the vines and grapes receive from the winemakers.
The Tokaj region has centuries of history behind it, and was even designated the second area to receive an appellation of control in the world after Chianti, so it’s easy to see how the wine has reached such iconic status to this day.
Even with its extensive historical record tracing Tokaj’s wine production back to the 12th century, the very first Great Tokaj Wine Auction only took place in April 2013 in Sárospatak. Held by the Confrérie de Tokaj, a society dedicated to preserving and promoting the Tokaj wines, the proceeds from the auction go towards rebuilding the cultural landscape of the historic wine region, which earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2002.
After last year’s success, when thirteen wines sold at a value of EUR 67,500 for a traditional “Gönc” barrel of 136 litres, the Confrérie de Tokaj will hold another Great Tokaj Wine Auction at the Knights’ Hall of Sárospatak.
More than just an auction, the Tokaj Spring event running 25-27 April will include a varied program, beginning with a vineyard tour with István Szepsy, the Grand Maître of the Confrérie, and an aperitif on the Tokaj hillside. The program will also include a blind tasting at the Sárospatak Castle, a picnic lunch on the bastion and a gala dinner featuring folk singer Irén Lovász. Not to mention there will be plenty of opportunities to sample wines from the famed Tokaj winemakers.
The Great Tokaj Wine Auction itself with take place on 26 April and will feature exclusive wines that are unique for the auction. Alongside the famous Tokaj Aszú wines, there will be the chance to bid on dry whites and late harvests, along with rare barrels.
Disznókő’s “Hetedik” Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos of the Zéta variety is one of the rare wines on offer, in which the Zéta aszú berries were macerated in a Furmint base. This is a fresh wine with an acidic character, rather than a sugary one, and is dominated by herbaceous, cool notes. This aszú already shows signs that it will mature into a beautiful, complex wine.
Other wines available to buy include: the Szent Tamás Selection 2013, a Furmint with notes of peach, flowers and herbaceous and mineral agents, and the distinguished Gróf Degenfeld Aszú 6 Puttonyos 2006, with a spicy aroma carrying a hint of dried apricots and honey, finished off with polished tannins and lively acidity.
On first glance, the auction might seem like big business for wine collectors and top restaurants, such as Onyx, since barrels sell from a couple of thousand euros to over ten thousand euros, however the auction is still accessible for groups of friends to chip in together to get a barrel to share.
The wines selected for auction have all gone through strict screening processes, led by an established international Wine Tasting Committee of Experts, handpicked by the Conférie de Tokaj.
To get involved in the auction or even just take part in the Tokaj Spring event, you can simply register through the website of the Conférie de Tokaj’s website.
For more information about the Great Tokaj Wine Auction and the Tokaj Spring Program see: tokajiborlovagrend.hu/en