Royal Tokaji Wine Company
The Royal Tokaji Wine Company is a relatively recent addition to the ranks of Tokaj producers, having been founded in the Hungarian village of Mád in 1990. Acclaimed wine writer Hugh Johnson teamed up with Ben Howkins and winemaker Peter Vinding-Diers to found the company, after Johnson found the region to be not meeting its potential. Now, it is one of the most famous producers in the region.
Royal Tokaji focuses on the grape varieties Furmint, Hárslevelú and Muscat, which are grown in the estate's top vineyards. The Mézes Mály vineyard is classified the highest as a Great First Growth, with Nyulászó, Szt Tamás and Betsek judged First Growths, and Birsalmás a second growth. These vineyards were classified at the end of the 17th Century by Prince Rakoczi of Hungary, well before the 1855 classification of Bordeaux.
The vineyards lie at the convergence of two main rivers. It is the presence of these rivers that encourages the early morning mists to flow across the grapes, providing the perfect environment for botrytis to flourish. The vines are approximately 20 years old and have such low yields that during some vintages one vine can yield only one glass of wine. The aszú grapes are picked, crushed and then fermented in large Hungarian oak barrels with natural yeasts.
The range at the Royal Tokaji Company has everything from a dry Furmint to minute quantities of the luscious – and rare – Essencia. This Essencia can be fermented for up to eight years and results in a wine with less than 3 percent alcohol, and sugar levels reaching up to 85 percent on any given year. There is also a 5 puttonyos wine made from grapes from the First Growth Nyulászó vineyard, and single-vineyard bottlings from each of the five vineyards the company owns.