A Sophisticated Stunner for the Holidays

Disznókő Tokaji Aszu 2007

If you really want to impress, wrap up a hunk of blue cheese to present with this wine; your gift will be unforgettable.

Need a special bottle for the boss’s dinner party? Instead of agonizing over which style of chardonnay your employer may prefer, why not impress with a brilliantly inventive choice and bring a dessert wine? And why not really impress, and bring this gorgeous Tokaji, thus confirming your status as a knowledgeable maverick?

Never heard of Tokaji (pronounced TOKE-eye)? You are not alone. Just a century ago, this sweet nectar from Hungary was one of the world’s most famous and sought-after wines, almost lost to us by the interference of two world wars, a Great Depression, and 50 years of Communist rule. Happily, it is making a well-deserved comeback, and Disznókő is one of the vintners responsible for its resurgence. Applying modern methods to the fruit of the old vineyards (some dating back to the 1700’s) Disznókő is performing a small miracle of resuscitation. The Aszu 2007 is a blend of 75 percent furmint, 15 percent zeta, and 10 percent harslevelu, and the poetic description of the vintner is too lovely to improve upon: “There is something transparent, almost like crystal, about the wines and the 2007 vintage. The way everything came together, just perfectly, like a glider in a clear blue sky. It is a vintage with finesse and refined fruit.”

I confess to being a dessert wine novice—with the exception of a glorious Château d'Yquem, which was served with a very non-desserty foie gras, I had virtually no experience with the genre. So when this Tokaji hit my desk I was intrigued, but apprehensive. I called a seriously knowledgeable oenophile and his sophisticated wife to help guide me through the tasting.

This Disznókő Tokaji Aszu seriously impressed them both, and opened my eyes to the delights of Tokaji generally and this one in particular. The color is more lemon than gold and, served at the requisite 52 degrees, the nose, full of honeysuckle, pear, and tropical fruit, promises to bathe the palate in layers of flavor. Like a really good sauternes, the wine doesn’t heat up as it warms; the cool honeyed fruit lasts through the lightly acidic, Meyer lemon finish. The body is silky, a bit heavy, but ultimately well-balanced — creamy, not cloying. My guests both agreed that, in a blind tasting, they would have guessed this product to be one of the better sauternes and would happily have paid several times the stated price, which they both pronounced an astonishing value.

We enjoyed the wine with a bittersweet chocolate ganache cake, but it really shone with a room temperature creamy Roquefort from the cheese plate, marrying salty and sweet in a fireworks explosion of flavor. So if you really want to impress your host, wrap up a hunk of blue to present with this wine; your gift will be unforgettable.