Feature Coverage

Botrytized Whites

“Mold is a major enemy of wine. The wrong weather conditions can cause mold to destroy entire harvests. Vintners will do everything they can to prevent the spread of rot in their vineyards prior to picking grapes. Unless they plan to make a special kind of dessert wine.

“Hungary has its own distinctive entry in this category. The wines of Tokaji  rely primarily on the Furmint and Harslevel grapes. As the grapes are infected by bortytis, sometimes late into December, they are individually picked. Called Aszu, these berries are then crushed into a paste. A specific measurement of this paste, called puttony, is then added to a barrel of must wine. A long, slow fermentation ensues, resulting in a sweet wine. The finalized Tokaji Aszu is then labeled between 3 and 6 puttonyos, to indicate the increasing level of sweetness. These wines are known for their singed caramel, orange peel and hazelnut notes allied to mouthwatering acidity.

“Botrytized wines are great for wine lovers with the long view. They cellar remarkably well — high residual sugar helps slow aging — and many should not be opened for as many as 10 years after bottling. Ageability and their relative scarcity (grape shrinkage and the unpredictability of the conditions that cause the right rot mean yields are often small ) make these among the most premium collectible wines.

“Tokaji producers to look for: The Royal Tokaji Wine Co.”

James Molesworth, September 30, 2014
Botrytized Whites