Disznoko Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 1999

Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos 1999, Hungary, 11.5%

(£40, Fine & Rare)

If only all history lessons were this tasty. The Tokaj region in Hungary is famous for its historic sweet wine, for centuries the wine of kings until its fortunes took a turn for the worse under communist control. Revived in the 1990s, the region is now back on form and diversifying rapidly, with dry wines and smaller producers apparently gaining increasing traction. So it was a good time for László Mészáros of AXA-owned Disznókő to give us an insight into 25 tokajis going back to 1993, a vintage he described as, ‘the renaissance of Tokaj.’

This 6 Puttonyos from 1999 is not only a quite beautiful wine, with thrilling acidity, rich billowing sweet complexity and an aftertaste that’s almost balletic in its elegance. It’s also a little piece of history etched in wine. This because it marks a key milestone in the transition from the slight rusticity of other vintages from the 1990s (the legendary 1993 carries off this edgy, grippy, mature style with brilliant panache) into the more polished iterations of the 21st century. Locals debate whether the 1999 or warmer 2000 is the better vintage; I plump for this more classical, fresher style. (8-8.5/10, Peter, Sept 2016)

The main production at Disznókő is the 5 Puttonyos wine – which is slightly dryer (and less rare/pricey/complex) than the 6 Puttonyos. Disznókő likes to make it slightly dryer and thus with higher alcohol than other producers in the region – ‘for better balance and stability’, according to Mészáros. He describes it as having a, ‘savoury’ dimension rather than purely sweet, and recommends it as a partner for dishes like foie gras or confit belly pork. We tried it with celeriac soup with pear and gorgonzola dolce and it did pair decently – though I’d struggle to drink it in any serious quantity. The best 5 Puttonyos from this tasting to my mind were the 2013, 2011, 2008, 2003 and 2002. We also tasted the rare, very sweet Aszú Eszencia wines, with the sumptuous 1999 stealing the show.