Hungary’s Tokaj is the oldest classified wine region in the world. In addition, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has attained international acclaim for its golden sweet Tokaji wines. Tokai is easily the most famous and important wine region in Hungary.
The legend of Tokaji wines is not a recent phenomenon by any means. Louis XIV of France once referred to Tokaji as “the king of wines and the wine of kings.” At one time, the Russian emperor Peter the Great ordered Russian troops to surround and protect the villages of Tokaj so that the Russian imperial court would have a non-stop supply of the wine. The wine economy of Tokaj has been booming ever since the 1700s.
The secret to the success of Tokaj has to do with “noble rot.” In fact, Tokaj produced the world’s first noble rot wine, Tokaji Aszu. The wine is made from individually picked botrytized gapes that are then mashed and soaked in dry wine. This leads to wines that are extremely sweet. Traditionally, these wines have been paired with foie gras, creamy cheese and lemon tarts.
In addition to Tokaji, the other famous wine from the region is Furmint. These wines are dry and white, presenting a very striking contrast to the Tokaji wines.
The region of Tokaj consists of 28 towns and villages set along two main rivers – the Tisza and the Bodrog. It is these rivers that help to create the very best conditions for botrytized wines – the combination of moisture, wind and sunshine help to create an optimal situation for noble rot wines.