Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tasting Tokaj at Glen Carlou

The tasting was held in the evening at Glen Carlou’s beautiful tasting facility. 
Welcomed by Johan Erasmus, the Estate manager of Glen Carlou, we had some lovely Glen Carlou wines to start the evening
Elsie Pels CWM, who organised the evening, with Cathy van Zyl CWM, Winnie Bowman CWM and Cathryn Henderson  Editor of Classic Wine
We await the first wine
The wines we tasted were brought to South Africa by Andras and Phyllis Bruhacs from Tokaj Classic. The vineyards of Tokaj Classic Winery Ltd are predominantly in the historical village of Mád, which is in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary.
The Oremus wines In order of tasting from the left.
We learn more about this magical wine, its history, its grapes and its mystique
Andras and two fellow musicians developed a fascination for the wine growing region and, in Mád, the musicians refurbished an old estate and acquired vineyards in premier locations in Király Hegy (King’s Mountain), a region with a wine-growing history dating back over 400 years - formerly owned by the Hungarian high nobility. The vineyards are now owned by the Spanish company Vega Sicilia and the wine is made at Oremus cellar in Hungary. These cellars’ walls are covered in a thick black mould which is essential for the wine’s character to develop. During the communist days, when the State owned and ran all the vineyards, the quality of Tokay wines slipped somewhat, but now they are again being made privately in the traditional way and the results being achieved are superb.

 Andras shows us a picture of the grapes bearing the noble rot Botrytis and tells us how they pick them individually over several days

The first wine we tasted was a 2005 Late Harvest (105 gsl with an acid of 7.8); this wine has a full perfumed raisin/sultana nose and tastes of honey, pears and herbs with a long finish. 13.5% alcohol

Wine number two was a 3 Puttonyos Aszu 2007 (94 gsl, acid 8+). Intense rose petal nose with honey, herbs, thyme, limes and pears – extremely pretty. On the mouth, clean fruit finishing with limes, honey and roses. A perfect match for blue cheese and chocolate 11.5%

Wine three was a 5 Puttonyos Aszu 2008, made in 135 litre barrels and left to ferment for 2 years. Rose petals, Turkish delight and tobacco, pears, honey and English gooseberries on the nose. A honey delight on the palate, with a great follow-through of limes and pink grapefruit from the acids. With 155 gsl, one was left with a lingering pineapple finish. 11%

Neither of us had ever tasted the next two wines; they are so expensive and rare that they are not normally offered for tasting.
Wine 4 was a 6 Puttonyos 1999 Aszu (180gsl, 11/8 acidity) Andras said that this vintage was the most classic he has tasted.  Deep amber in colour, it has a surprising cognac nose and is full of violets, roses and Oloroso sherry, with a little wood and some umami notes. On the palate, acid limes on top of a honey base, deep and layered. A wine that keeps on giving! A silky mouth feel and great balance. It tastes less sweet than the 5 Puttonyos because of the good balance.  11%
And then the crowning glory: Essencia 1998. Described as a lightly alcoholic syrup, this is made from the free run juice, before the grapes are pressed for the wines above and it takes many years to ferment in casks. It has an oxidised sherry/tawny port nose with hints of dried apricots, pineapple and Chanel No.5 perfume (violets, roses, sandalwood and amber). On the palate, full of pineapple acids, honey with notes of tobacco, jasmine, rice and lemons. 250 gsl with good balanced acidity.
Some of the canapés served to us by Glen Carlou after the tasting - Beef Carpaccio wrapped around crudités with fresh herbs with a mustard dip
Sesame prawn toasts with a sweet chilli dip
Tender belly of pork with a garlic mustard sauce
Tiny cheese croquettes with a light tomato sauce
Discussing the phenomenal tasting afterwards
 Text and photographs © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2013
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