The magical world of Tokaj

Welcome to the magical world of Tokaj, where the art of nature combines with human skill and wines are created that have enchanted the world. The Tokaj wine-growing region, which stretches in the south-east of Slovakia, is home to unique stories, traditions and tastes. It is a place where the sun kisses the vineyards and the warm wind whispers secrets to the grapes that they melt into their sweet juice.


Imagine a walk along the picturesque hills of Tokaj. The vineyards stretch to the horizon, their rows are like green waves on the sea. The sun's rays play on the vine leaves, creating a magical play of light and shadows. The air is perfumed with the intoxicating scent of ripening grapes and earth. It is a symphony for all the senses that invites you to explore the secrets of this extraordinary region.



Why is Tokaj wine unique in the world? Take a look behind the scenes of Tokaj!

The Tokaj wine region is located on the territory of two countries - Slovakia and Hungary. The Slovak part has an area of ​​approximately 908 hectares and extends around 7 municipalities - Slovenské Nové Mesto, Veľká Tňa, Malá Tňa, Černochov, Bara, Viničky and Borša. This picturesque corner of the country is hidden between the Zemplín Hills and the Bodrog River, which gives it a special atmosphere.

What makes Tokaj so special? It is a combination of favorable natural conditions that create an ideal environment for growing vines. The Tokaj vineyards rest on a volcanic bedrock that gives them mineral strength. The soil is rich in clay, volcanic stone and pumice, which gives the wines an unmistakable character. The local climate with a long, warm autumn season and the frequent occurrence of the noble mold Botrytis cinerea enables the creation of rare Tokaj selections and Pilgrimage wines.

But Tokaj is not only about favorable conditions. It is also the story of the people who shaped the local winegrowing tradition for centuries. Their hardworking hands cultivate the vineyards with love and dedication, pouring their passion and experience into every drop of wine. Tokaj winemakers guard the heritage of their ancestors and at the same time bring innovative procedures to push the art of winemaking forward.

Tokaj wines are like a symphony of flavors - from dry, mineral wines to full, spicy wines to sweet, honey and dried fruit-studded treasures. Every sip tells a story about the land, people and tradition. They are wines that conquered the world with their uniqueness and nobility. The royal courts of Europe reached for Tokaj wines, poets wrote odes about them and gourmets paid tribute to them. And this story continues to this day...

So let's go together on a journey through the Tokaj vineyards, meet the winemakers who breathe life into them and taste the wines that are the essence of this magical region. Welcome to Tokaji, a place where wine is not just a drink, but an elixir of life and art.

From kings to ordinary mortals: Tokaj wine that changed the world!

The first mentions of grape growing in the Tokaj region date back to the 2nd century AD, to the time of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus. However, the foundations for the current form of Tokaj winemaking were laid by the Hungarian king Belo IV. in the 13th century. After the devastating wars, he asked the Italian winemakers to restore the local vineyards. They brought new varieties that became the basis for unique Tokaj wines.

Tokaj winemaking experienced its greatest flourishing in the 17th century, when it became famous throughout Europe and reached the table of the French king Louis XIV. He allegedly called it "Vinum regnum - rex vinorum", i.e. "Wine of kings - king of wines". At that time, the fame of Tokaj wines reached as far as the tsar's court in Russia. For example, Pope Julius III was also a great lover of Tokaj. At a lunch during the Council of Trent in 1551, where Tokaj was served, he is said to have declared: "Such wine belongs on the papal table."

One of the most significant milestones in the history of Tokaj was the year 1737, when the Tokaj region was officially defined by the decree of Empress Maria Theresa. It thus became historically the first precisely defined vineyard area in the world. This decree established strict rules for the cultivation of vines and the production of Tokaj wine, laying the foundations for the future glory and quality of this jewel.

It originally consisted of 31 municipalities in the vicinity of the city of Tokaj. After the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, four municipalities (Malá Tňa, Veľká Tňa, Viničky and Slovenské Nové Mesto) also with the right to use the designation "Tokajské" belonged to the new state. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993, this right was acquired by the independent Slovak Republic.

Tokaj wine quickly won the hearts and minds of important personalities throughout the centuries. It was enjoyed by many kings and emperors, including Louis XIV, who called it "the king of wines and the wine of kings". Even the Russian Tsar Peter the Great fell in love with Tokaj wine and allegedly used it as medicine. It is even said that on his orders, vineyards were planted in Tokaji so that he would always have enough of this precious juice.

The fame of Tokaj wine crossed the borders of the royal courts and reached the world of art and literature. Many giants of the pen, such as Goethe, Voltaire or Beethoven, praised its unique taste and aroma in their works. Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi even wrote: "God created Tokaj wine to show people how wonderful life can be."

Perhaps the most beautiful story about Tokaj wine is connected with Pope Benedict XIV. In 1750, he received a rare Tokaj wine as a gift from Empress Maria Theresa. The Pope was so enchanted by its taste that he exclaimed: "This is a wine worthy of the altar!" Since then, Tokaj wine has been used at Masses in the Vatican and earned the nickname "wine of the popes".

In addition to monarchs such as Louis XIV. or the Hungarian Queen Mária Theresia, who acquired the famous Szarvasské vineyards in 1741, other well-known artists also liked Tokaj. For example, the legendary composer Joseph Haydn received a barrel of Tokaj selection from his patron Prince Esterházy as a reward for his work.

Although the Tokaj wine industry was hit by various blows in the past, such as the phylloxera epidemic at the end of the 19th century or the onset of communism, it always recovered and continued its glorious tradition. Today, Tokaj is one of the most important wine regions in the world. Its wines are unique thanks to the special location of the vineyards, the volcanic bedrock, the local microclimate, but especially thanks to the skill and care of the winemakers who have been creating liquid gold here for centuries - sweet Tokaian treasures.

Revealed: How microclimate and soil make Tokaj a wine miracle!

The unique natural conditions of Tokaj

The Tokaj wine-growing region, stretching in the south-east of Slovakia, is a real jewel in the heart of Europe. This picturesque region, surrounded by beautiful nature and rich history, offers the most ideal conditions for growing vines and producing exceptional wines of world quality.

That's it

The basis of this exceptionality is primarily the unique geological composition of the soil. The Tokaj vineyards are located on volcanic bedrock formed by andesite and rhyolite. Formed millions of years ago during violent geological activity, these volcanic rocks give the soil its specific mineral composition and structure. Thanks to this, Tokaj wines retain their unmistakable minerality and complexity of taste.

In addition to volcanic subsoil, loess soils also play an important role. Loess is a fine yellow-brown sediment that was formed by the deposition of dust during the last ice age. These soils are rich in nutrients, have a high capacity to retain moisture, and at the same time provide the pepper vines with enough space to grow. The combination of volcanic subsoil and loess soils creates ideal conditions for growing Tokaj grape varieties, such as Furmint, Lipovina and Yellow Muscat.

Another key factor that contributes to the excellence of Tokaj wines is the local microclimate. The Tokaj region is located near the rivers Bodrog and Tisa, which create specific climatic conditions. The rivers bring moisture and fog that often hovers over the Tokaj vineyards during autumn days. It is this combination of humidity and cold nights that creates favorable conditions for the creation of the noble form of the mold Botrytis cinerea , also known as "noble rot".

Botrytis cinerea is a key element in the production of Tokaj selection wines, such as the sweet Tokaj native wines or the rare Tokaj selections 3-6 putna. This mold attacks ripe grapes and causes them to shrivel and thicken. The result is a high concentration of sugars, acids and aromatics in the berries. Grapes affected by downy mildew are carefully hand-picked and specially processed to preserve their precious essence.

The Tokaj vineyards, located on the southeastern slopes of the Zemplín Hills, are like a mosaic of different terroirs. Each plot has its own microclimate, orientation to the sun and soil composition. Winemakers here have been carefully managing their vineyards for generations, passing on their knowledge and experience from father to son. Their deep relationship with the soil and respect for nature is reflected in every sip of Tokaj wine.

The story of Tokaj wine is a story of harmony between man and nature. It is the story of the volcanic rocks that gave the land its unique character. It is a story about rivers that bring life and create ideal conditions for the creation of noble mold. And it is the story of people who tend their vineyards with love and devotion and turn grapes into liquid gold.

The Tokaj region is a real treasure of Slovakia. Its unique natural conditions, created by the perfect interplay of volcanic bedrock, loess soils and a specific microclimate, give rise to wines that have won the hearts of wine lovers all over the world. Each glass of Tokaj wine carries a piece of this magical landscape and reflects the mind and skill of Tokaj winemakers. It is a true gift of nature that deserves our recognition and admiration.

Secrets of Tokaj: 4 royal varieties of Tokaj that you must taste!

The Tokaj wine-growing region is rightly considered one of the most precious jewels of Slovakia. This picturesque area, stretching in the southeast of the country, is home to the four main Tokaj grape varieties, which have found ideal conditions for their growth and the creation of unmistakable wines here.

Furmint , the king of Tokaj varieties, is the mainstay of local production. Its golden-colored berries hold the potential for the creation of complex and full-bodied wines. Furmint is a late-ripening variety, which allows it to accumulate high sugar content while maintaining fresh acidity. Furmint wines are characterized by an intense aroma of overripe fruit, agave honey and sometimes a subtle mineral undertone. The taste is dominated by richness and concentration with a long aftertaste. It is Furmint that is the basis for the creation of the rarest Tokaj selections and selected wines. Its representation in plantings reaches up to 60%.

Lipovina , a faithful companion of Furmint, brings elegance and delicacy to Tokaj wines. Its bunches, covered with small yellow-green berries, ripen a little earlier. Lipovina is less demanding on growing conditions and can resist diseases well. Wines from it are fresher, with lower alcohol content and higher acidity. The bouquet is dominated by fruity tones of citrus, peaches and nutmeg. It is juicy and harmonious in the mouth. Lipovina is often used in mixtures with Furmint, where it softens its power and gives wines more drinkability. It occupies about 30% of the area in plantings.

Yellow Muscat is represented to a lesser extent (approx. 5-10%), but its role is irreplaceable. This aromatic variety brings an unmistakable nutmeg aroma and spiciness to wines. Yellow muscat ripens early and provides sweet grapes with high sugar content. His wines are characterized by a deep yellow color, an intense aroma of tropical fruits, citrus flowers and nutmeg. The taste is full, extractive with a velvety texture. Yellow nutmeg is added to Tokaj blends to give them a distinctive aromatic character and highlight their complexity.

Zéta is the youngest and rarest Tokaj variety. It was created by crossing Furmint and Bouvier and is grown only on small areas (1-2%). Zeta ripens late and has medium-sized bunches with a thicker berry skin. Wines from it have a deep yellow color with greenish highlights. The aroma is dominated by fruity tones of apricots, peaches and citrus, sometimes complemented by honey and spicy notes. The taste is full, extractive with spicy acidity and a mineral finish. Zeta is added to Tokaj blends to increase their complexity and uniqueness.

By combining these four varieties, wines that have no competition in the world are created under the hands of skilled Tokaj winemakers. Whether they are dry, semi-dry wines, sweet selections or rare pilgrimage selections, they always bear the imprint of this unique terroir. The secret of Tokaj wines lies precisely in the harmony of these varieties, where each of them plays its irreplaceable role. Furmint adds structure and complexity to wines, Lipovina elegance and freshness, Yellow Muscat an unmistakable aromaticity and Zeta individuality and rarity.

Cultivation of these varieties in Tokaj has a long history dating back to the 16th century. Thanks to the unique combination of volcanic subsoil, favorable microclimate and the skill of local winemakers, it is possible to produce wines here that have won the hearts of connoisseurs around the world. Tokaj wines are not only a pleasure for the senses, but also a cultural and historical heritage of this region.

While walking through the Tokaj vineyards, you can admire the harmony of man and nature, where tradition meets a modern approach. The vineyards, spread over the southern slopes of the Zemplín Hills, create a unique mosaic of colors and shapes. Each row of vines hides the story of the people who cultivated it with love and devotion for centuries.

Tokaj wines are more than just a drink. They are a reflection of the soul of this region, its history and traditions. They are a tribute to the skill and hard work of the local people who create these liquid treasures year after year. Furmint, Lipovina, Muscat yellow and Zéta are the basic building blocks from which world-class wines are born. Wines that deserve our admiration and respect.

Essencia, forditaš, mášláš: Tokaj wines that you must try!

Categories of Tokaj wines

Tokaj wines are a real gem among wines. Their uniqueness lies not only in the specific conditions of the Tokaj region, but also in the careful and precise processing of the grapes. Tokaj wines are divided into several categories according to the content of residual sugar, the method of production and maturation.

The basic division of Tokaj wines is into dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet. Dry wines have a residual sugar content of up to 4 g/l, semi-dry 4-12 g/l, semi-sweet 12-45 g/l, and sweet wines with more than 45 g/l of sugar. However, this division is not so important for Tokaj wines, as their real value is hidden in specific categories such as native, selection, essence, forditaš or mášláš.

Natural Tokaj wine is made from unsorted berries, i.e. a mixture of healthy and cibeb (raisin-like) berries. The proportion of cijeb depends on the weather in a given year. In worse vintages, a dry natural wine with a residual sugar content of up to 10 g/l is produced, in better years, natural wine can be sweet with a sugar content above 10 g/l, usually 30-60 g/l. Oxidative maturation in barrels that are not completely full is typical for natural wines. The wine is separated from the air only by a layer of yeast, which contributes to the distinctive color, taste and aroma of these wines. Traditionally, native wines are aged for at least 2 years, of which at least one year in a wooden barrel. From the 2016 vintage, the aging time in the barrel was reduced to 6 months.

An exceptional category are selected wines from Tokaj , called "aszú". They are made by adding a precise amount of cibeb to cider or wine. The amount of cibes is measured in putnias (approximately 25 kg of cibes) and added to a 136-liter barrel, the so-called goons. According to the number of putni cijeb per barrel, selected wines are designated as 3-6 putni. The more it travels, the sweeter and more concentrated the wine. In the past, there were also 1-2 travel selections, but they have not been produced since 1997.

The production of Tokaj selections underwent a significant change in 2013. Instead of the putna system, 4 categories were introduced according to the residual sugar content - 60, 90, 120 and 150 g/l, which corresponds to approximately 3-6 putna selections. The name "aszú" is reserved only for the highest category with 150 g/l of sugar and more, up to the limit of 450 g/l, where the Tokaj essence begins . As with native wines, select wines are aged oxidatively in partially full barrels. They are traditionally matured for at least 3 years, of which at least 2 in wood. After 2013, the aging time in the barrel was reduced to 18 months.

The real pearl among Tokaj wines is the Tokaj essence . It is produced by the slow fermentation of samotok - pure juice that spontaneously flowed from the ground seeds under its own weight. This is an extremely rare and expensive product. To produce 1 liter of essence, up to 3 tons of cijeb are needed, which corresponds to the harvest of 10 hectares of vineyards! Due to the high sugar content (400-900 g/l), fermentation takes place very slowly, on the order of 1% alcohol per year. The result is a drink with an alcohol content of 4-6%, with hundreds of grams of residual sugar and an almost oily consistency. The essence matures for at least 3 years, of which 2 years in barrel. The lifespan of Tokaj essence is practically unlimited, with proper storage it can last for hundreds of years.

Other interesting Tokaj specialties are " forditáš " and " mášláš ". Forditáš is created by pouring must or wine on matoliny (presses) from the seeds, while mášláš is created by pouring it on the yeast sludge that remained after the production of selection or native. Wines enriched in this way acquire a more pronounced bouquet and taste. Currently, they are not sold commercially, but many small family wineries still produce them for their own consumption.

In recent years, more modern Tokaj specialties have appeared, which combine traditional Tokaj varieties with new production methods. Tokaj ice wine was first produced in 1999 at Chateau Pajzos in Hungary. It uses the classic method of making ice wine in combination with Tokaj varieties. Thanks to growing demand, the production of Tokaj ice wine has increased significantly in recent years.

In Slovakia, we find the tradition of producing Tokaj straw wine . It is a straw wine production method applied to Tokaj grape varieties. After destemming, the grapes are left to dry on straw or mats, which concentrates the sugars and produces a sweet, distinctive wine with an unmistakable character.

Also interesting are Tokaj appellation wines , which use Tokaj varieties in combination with the classic system of attributes. In Hungary, these wines are usually labeled as "késöi szüretélésü" (literally translated means late harvest ), in Slovakia a similar labeling system is used as in the Czech Republic. Some Hungarian late harvests can only match our selection from berries and selection from cjeb in quality of cider.

Finally, we must not forget the unique Tokaj specialty Vinum Tokajense Passum , also known as Stanza Eszencia. It is a Tokaj delicacy, unfermented sweet essence with several hundred grams of "residual" sugar. Until the middle of the 20th century, this alcohol-free essence from cijeb was sold only in pharmacies as a wine product beneficial to health. Currently, most of the production is imported from Japan, where it is distributed as a natural food supplement to prevent civilization diseases. This product is characterized by an oily consistency and a distinct taste of cijeb.

Tokaj wines are famous for their long shelf life. Choice wines and essences can mature and develop for tens to hundreds of years if properly stored. There are known cases of Tokaj wines that were in excellent condition even 200-300 years after harvest. Of course, the potential for long-term aging depends on the quality of the vintage, care during production and the right storage conditions.

Whether it is dry native, sweet 6-putna selections or a rare essence, Tokaj wines offer an unforgettable taste experience. They are the embodiment of careful human work in perfect harmony with favorable natural conditions. Each bottle hides a piece of history and reflects the mind of Tokaj winemakers, who have honed their craft for centuries. Tasting genuine Tokaj wine means touching this living tradition and feeling the pride and humility with which Tokaj winemakers approach their mission.

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