Tokaji Aszu

Hungary’s Tokaji Aszu: World’s Oldest Sweet Wine (10 Best Bottles, Prices)

by Anthony Zhang

Tokaji Aszu is one of the best dessert wines in the world, often fondly referred to as liquid honey! The wine hails from the Tokaj region in Northeastern Hungary.

It’s been a cult favorite among royalty and artists throughout the centuries - from Louis XIV to Beethoven and Pope Pius X.

But what’s special about Tokaji Aszu?

Let's talk about the best bottles to buy, why you should invest in them, and the best food pairings. We'll also cover how Tokaji Aszu is made, and a bit about the Tokaj wine region.

Further reading

What’s Special About Tokaji Aszu?

Tokaji Aszu

Tokaji Aszu (also known as Tokay) is a sweet wine made mostly from Furmint grapes grown in the Tokaj region.

The Aszu grape variety is affected by noble rot (also known as Botrytis cinerea.)The noble rot shrivels the grapes and results in concentrated sugar levels, intense flavors, and rich aromas. 

A Tokaji Aszu wine has to have a minimum residual sugar content of 120 grams per liter. The Aszu wine also needs to be aged for a minimum of 18 months in oak barrels. 

10 Best Tokaji Aszu Bottles To Buy Right Now

Here are the best bottles of Tokaji Aszu you should try now:

1. 1999 Royal Tokaji 'Nyulaszo' Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($372)

1999 Royal Tokaji 'Nyulaszo' Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This bottle of Royal Tokaji Aszu has stunning aromas of dried apricot, mango and fresh peach. 

On the palate, you can find notes of figs, strawberries and toffee. This full-bodied Aszu wine has underlying acidity, balanced by a pleasant honey-like sweetness. 

2. 2011 Istvan Szepsy Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($324)

2011 Istvan Szepsy Aszu 6 Puttonyos

The 2011 Tokay wine vintage from Istvan Szepsy is the product of a small quantity of Aszu berries salvaged from a very warm summer. 

It has a deep nose with rich fruit like orange blossom and apricot. The flavor is dense and youthful with notes of spice, honey and dried apricot.

3. 2000 Royal Tokaji 'Szt. Tamas' Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($260)

2000 Royal Tokaji 'Szt. Tamas' Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This vintage is produced from grapes in Szt. Tamas, one of the most expensive vineyards under Royal Tokaji. 

It has an appearance of bright, old gold with sweet notes of mocha, citrus and spices. It has a brilliant balance of sweetness and acidity with a thick finish. 

4. 2003 Royal Tokaji 'Mezes Maly' Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($293)

2003 Royal Tokaji 'Mezes Maly' Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This Royal Tokaji 2003 vintage from the Mezes Maly vineyard gives out orange notes and forest floor aromas. 

On the palate, the full-bodied wine gives out an intense acidic flavor and a rich sweetness with hints of dried fruit. It also has notes of creamy honey mixed with apricot and orange peel. 

5. 2016 Barta Oreg Kiraly Dulo Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($261)

2016 Barta Oreg Kiraly Dulo Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This 2016 bottle of Aszu has an aroma of dried, sweet fruits like apricot jam. 

It has a hue of golden dandelion and flavors of pear, green apple and flower matched with a hint of honey. The acidity of this Aszu wine is fiery and intense, but the wine’s sweetness counters it perfectly, with a long but subtle citrus finish.

6. 2016 Demeter Zoltan Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($284)

2016 Demeter Zoltan Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This 2016 vintage of Tokaji Aszu has a clear, amber color and aromas of saffron, dried apricot and mandarin. 

On the palate, it offers a full-bodied flavor with high levels of acidity and sweetness. You can also find hints of dry apricot and honey with a long finish.

7. 2005 Disznoko Kapi Vineyard Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($178)

2005 Disznoko Kapi Vineyard Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This light amber bottle of 2005 Tokaji Aszu from the Disznoko estate gives a bright aroma of elderflower, honey and citrus. 

The palate offers a good balance and a refreshing aftertaste with notes of quince, citrus and apricots followed by a long finish.

8. 1993 Royal Tokaji 'Betsek' Single Vineyard Aszu 6 Puttonyos ($288)

1993 Royal Tokaji 'Betsek' Single Vineyard Aszu 6 Puttonyos

This Tokaji Aszu vintage offers a bright spectrum of aromas, including black tea, prunes, and sweet lily flowers.

The palate is loaded with honey, black fruit, and citrus flavors with a creamy and rich texture. It's a remarkably thick wine packed with sweetness and a burst of acidity right before the finish.

9. 2005 Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos  ($67)

2005 Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos

This 2005  Tokaji Aszu from the Royal Tokaji winery gives out aromas of marmalade, lemon and honey on the nose. 

The palate reveals flavors of honey, apricot, orange peel and smoke. It has a silky and rich texture with a long, chalky finish.

10. 2003 Oremus Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos ($59)

2003 Oremus Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos

This lovely amber-colored Tokaji Aszu has aromas of flower, peach and honey. The taste combines flavors of honey and peach with high levels of sweetness and matching, vibrant acidity.

Investing in Tokaji Aszu

Tokaji Aszu

Tokaji Aszu is a sought-after wine with high investment potential, thanks to it’s delicious flavors and value that improve over time! It has an aging potential of more than a decade.

Various vintages of Tokaji Aszu have seen increases in value over time. For example: 

Tokaji Aszu has also been sold at impressive prices at auctions. At a Christie’s auction in 1983, a rare bottle of Aszu from 1876 sold for $7,750. 

It's clear that Tokaji Aszu is in high demand, but how do you get your hands on a bottle?

Vinovestis a wine investment platform that helps you buy sought-after wines like Tokaji Aszu. 

Vinovest can also help you store your bottles, sell them for a profit, or even deliver them to your doorstep.

Now, let’s look at what to pair the wine with, how it’s made, a bit of its history, and the Tokaj region in general.

Food Pairings with Tokaji Aszu

Foie Gras

Tokaji Aszu wines are fully suited to drink on their own as a dessert wine, but they can also pair well with dishes like rich foie gras, creme caramel and blue cheese. 

If you're feeling ambitious, you can pair a glass of Aszu with spicy dishes like Peking duck and plum sauce, sticky sesame tofu and even some Indian cuisine dishes. 

How is Tokaji Aszu Wine Made?

Grape with Noble Rot

The Tokaj Aszu winemaking process starts with the harvest season in October after the noble rot sets in. The Aszu berries are individually harvested, making the Aszu production a labor-intensive process. 

Once gathered, the Aszu grapes macerate for up to 60 hours. During this time the grapes and their juice form the base wine (also called the Aszu dough.) 

Then, the grape mixture is pressed, and the juice is fermented. The wine is aged in oak barrels in Tokaji underground wine cellar rooms until ready.

Wondering how Tokaji Aszu came to be so popular in the first place? 

Let’s take a quick look at its history. 

The History of Tokaji Aszu

Tokaji Aszu

In the 16th century, a prominent landowner in the Tokaji region had to postpone the harvest of grapes due to the imminent Turkish invasion. When it was finally decided to harvest the grapes, they had been affected by noble rot - giving them a raisin-like texture. 

The winemaker had no choice but to use these shriveled grapes, which led to the birth of the Tokaji Aszu as we know it today.

Why Tokaji Aszu is Considered the “King of Wine”

Prince Rakoczi II of Hungary gifted Tokaji Aszu to Louis XIV, who called it "wine of kings, the king of wine."

This moniker stuck throughout the centuries, especially since royals like Queen Victoria, Peter the Great and even Pope Pius X were big fans of this Hungarian wine.

The Tokaj Wine Region and Other Wine Styles

Tokaji Aszu wine region

The Tokaj region has about 5,500 hectares of vineyards. The soil of the wine region is composed of volcanic clay, and its microclimate is ideal for the development of Botrytis cinerea.

There are six grape varieties grown in Tokaj, with the Furmint grape variety being the most popular one (used for Tokaji white wine.) 

Although Tokaj is famous for its Aszu, more than half of the wine produced in Tokaj is dry wine, with a few wineries producing sparkling wine.

Other Tokaji Wine Styles from the Region

Here are some other wine styles produced in the Tokaj region:

  • Dry Furmint A relatively new dry wine made using Furmint grapes
  • Szamorodni: A traditional Tokaji that is made in a dry or sweet style
  • Tokaji Eszencia: A thick syrup that has less than 3% alcohol and can reach over 800 grams of residual sugar per liter
  • Kései szüret: Wines made with over-ripened (late harvest) grapes
  • Fordítás: Wine made from the second pressing of the Aszu grapes 

Include the King of Wine in Your Collection Now!

Tokaji Aszu Wine is a must-try for any wine lover or collector. 

You can enjoy a glass of this succulent dessert wine or store it in your wine cellar as a collectible. Whatever you choose to do, Vinovestcan always help you invest in the best bottles of wine for your collection.

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