Hungary boasts a long viticultural tradition that dates back to Roman times. The illustrious Tokay wines have captivated European consumers since the 17th century. Although production in this area was interrupted for a few decades after the outbreak of WWII, there are many first class wines once again coming out of this country.
Hungary is best known for its white wines that have a distinct spiced aroma but light, red wines are also produced in the south. Native grape varieties are mostly used although some wines are made out of Pinot Noir or Merlot.
In the north of the country lies the home of Tokay, cultivated on 7,000 hectares of volcanic soil. The principle grape varieties here are Furmint and Harslevelü, which are harvested in November so as to allow for the development of noble rot (botrytis). The grapes are not vinified straight away and, after crushing, they are placed in large barrels with wine made from grapes that haven’t been affected by botrytis. This mixture is left to macerate before fermentation. As it ferments, the wine gains great aromatic depth. The wine is then aged in oak for many years. Once bottled, Tokay has immense ageing potential (the best vintages can keep for up to 200 years).