Wine Wednesday: Disznókō Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos

This week’s Wine Wednesday is dedicated to the Disznókō Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos wine that I tried a couple of weeks ago. These wines mean a lot to me not only because I am partly Hungarian but because they were some of the first wines I tried when I received my Italian Sommelier Certificate in 2004. I was working as a sommelier at the first edition of MI-Wine, the Milanese wine fair and we were serving a 10-glass vertical tasting of these wines going back I believe to 1983, if not older. They were fantastic and I was extremely excited to be part of it.

Disznókő, an historic winery in the Tokaji region, was declared a First Growth in 1732. The area is blessed with cold winters and long hot summers. They have good thermal excursion and morning mists which create Botrytis, thanks to the Bodrog and Tisza rivers, and marsh land nearby. The vineyards are also protected from the cold winds by the Zemplén Mountains. The wind currents help to keep the grapes healthy. The soils are clay with volcanic rock rich in minerals.

These golden amber wines are fantastic with length and persistence, acidity and incredibly complex aromas and flavors of fruit, nuts, citrus, honey and spice. They have silky tannins and well-balanced and complete. I loved these wines in 2004 and I love them today.

They are very complex and are the result of the blending of many separate lots. The winemaking team is guided by László Mészáros together with Christian Seely and Daniel LLose. They make the blends and decide which will become 5 Puttonyos and which 6 Puttonyos. They do not make the 6 Puttonyos wines every year.

All the harvesting is done by hand, very carefully. The Aszu berries either have Botrytis cinerea or they are left to raisin on the vine. The harvest is so painstaking because each grape is selected, one by one. Sometimes they have to go through the vineyards 2-4 times to harvest as the grapes in the bunches do not all ripen at the same time.

I had forgotten what Puttonyos meant so I looked it up. It means the proportion of aszú berries to wine indicating the concentration of sugars. Previously, the berries were harvested in baskets called puttony with a capacity of 27 liters. “The aszú berries were added – from 3 to 6 puttony of aszús grapes – to 136 liters of wine or must of the same vintage year (136 litres = capacity of a Gönci cask),” according to the winery website.

The wine is a blend of Furmint, Zéta and Hárslevelu. The aszú grapes macerate for several hours, are filtered and then racked into barrels where they ferment. The wine ages for a couple of years in oak barrels and is just fantastic and special wine that must be tried at least a few times in everyone’s life, in my humble opinion. It is distributed by Vintus in the United States.

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