Tokaji Eszencia – Béres Winery
Tokaji Eszencia is a wine so rich and concentrated that it’s more likely to be served in a special crystal spoon than in a glass. It’s produced from the free-run juice of the Aszú berries used to produce Tokaj’s most famous product, Tokaji Aszú. The botrytised Aszú grapes, which have been hand selected in the vineyards over numerous harvests, are piled into vats. As the number of berries in the vats grows over the weeks, their increasing weight presses down on the berries at the bottom, squeezing out their sugary juice. This free-run juice is collected either via a hole at the bottom of the vat or though a tap. This essence of grape—hence its name—contains an incredible amount of sugar, sometimes as much as a whopping 800 grams per liter. This juice is then fermented for years. The sugary environment means it takes a while for the yeasts to get to work, very slowly, and they are rarely able to produce more than five to six percent of alcohol before they die, more usually three or four. This is one of the world’s most expensive wines, only produced in the best vintages. “At least one hundred times more grapes are needed for Eszencia than for a bottle of table wine,” wrote British wine writer Hugh Johnson.
There are so many notable things about this Eszencia. Firstly, its caramel-colored appearance. It looks almost like maple syrup. Its thick, syrupy consistency is unlike any wine you’ve probably ever tasted. This Eszencia is made from 100 percent Furmint, harvested in October and November from the volcanic soil in the Lőcse, Omlas, and Diókút vineyards. It was fermented in oak and aged in tanks and oak barrels for six years before bottling. There is an astounding 550 grams per liter of residual sugar, and 18.5 grams per liter of acidity. The alcohol content is just 2.5 percent. On the first sip, the acidity hits you before the sweetness. There are so many delicious autumnal flavors and aromas going on in this wine. There are sweet notes of honey, dates, dried figs, and caramel. And lots of apple flavors—apple butter, apple cider, over-ripe apples, apple pie, and calvados. The finish is rich, long, and lingering. You’ll smell this wine in your glass the next morning. This wine is an experience to enjoy on its own.
|Bottle size (ml)|
*Prices shown include Hungarian VAT (27%). Final prices are calculated based on the VAT of your shipping country.
In 1700 Tokaj developed one of the world’s earliest vineyard classification systems, and Tokaj is most famous for being the birthplace of Tokaji Aszú—one of the world’s oldest sweet wines.
Located in northeastern Hungary—which historically has been the crossroads of Central Europe—the region is framed by natural borders: the town of Tokaj in the southwest corner where the Bodrog and the Tisza rivers meet, the Bodrog river to the southeast, and the Zemplén hills to the northwest. The Tokaj region has 5,500 hectares of vineyards and 27 towns and villages. Wines from the different vineyards can all be quite different, and winemakers here love to experiment with single vineyard wines.
On top of its long and fascinating history, the Tokaj region has so much for wine-lover’s to discover. It is rich in a variety of volcanic soils; has a microclimate ideal for bringing on noble rot (botrytis); grows some really interesting indigenous grape varieties; and has a truly enchanting subterranean labyrinth of mould-covered cellars where the wines age. Though Tokaj is best known for its sweet Aszú wines, which are made from botrytized grapes, more than half of the wine it produces is dry.
Six official grape varieties grow in Tokaj. The superstars are the indigenous varieties Furmint and Hárslevelű, with Furmint being the high profile grape that tends to steal the show. Other varieties grown in smaller quantities are Sárga Muskotály, Kövérszölö, Zéta (a crossing of Furmint and Bouvier), and Kabar (a crossing of Hárslevelű and Bouvier). All of these wines are being increasingly made in dry styles, which winemakers are embracing because they are more marketable.
But it’s the sweet wines which make the region so unlike any other. They rely on the development of botrytis, which comes with the right weather conditions. The harvest here is a long, labor-intensive process which starts with the dry wine harvests, and continues with the harvesting of the botrytized grapes, which is done by hand.
In addition to Aszú (which is made with botryized grapes which are selectively harvested by hand, one berry at a time), other styles include late harvest wines, sweet and dry versions of Szamorodni (made with whole clusters of grapes containing a mixture of both botrytized and healthy grapes), Forditás (made from the second pressing after Aszú is made), Máslás (made from the second pressing after Aszú is made), and Eszencia (made from the free-run juice of Aszú berries, so thick and concentrated that it only reaches about four percent alcohol).
Béres is a well-known family name in Hungary. Before getting into the wine business, Dr. Béres developed the “Béres drops” (Béres csepp), a popular multivitamin that has also made it to the “Hungaricum” list, a list which names the most important Hungary products.
The Béres family founded their winery in 2003. They have 45 hectares of vineyards, and an average annual production of 100,000 bottles. Their winery and many of their vineyards (and a plum orchard, from which they make pálinka) are located in the picturesque village of Erdőbénye.
|Country||1-3 bottles||4-6 bottles||7-12 bottles|
|Austria||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Belgium||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Bulgaria||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Croatia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Czech Republic||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Denmark||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Estonia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Finland||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|France||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Germany||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Greece (mainland)||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Hungary (outside of Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||4,500 HUF|
|Hungary (Budapest)||2,500 HUF||3,500 HUF||Free delivery for orders over 20,000 HUF|
|Ireland||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Italy||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Latvia||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Lithuania||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Luxembourg||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|
|Netherlands||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Poland||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Portugal||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Romania||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Slovakia||7,800 HUF||8,300 HUF||9,500 HUF|
|Slovenia||10,200 HUF||10,500 HUF||12,200 HUF|
|Spain||19,900 HUF||21,200 HUF||23,800 HUF|
|Sweden||13,800 HUF||14,500 HUF||15,900 HUF|