2017 Vintage & Vinification Royal Tokaji

2017 was an outstanding opulent vintage for Royal Tokaji. Our Aszú wines show wonderful structure, plenty of botrytis, depth and richness with excellent complexity, all attributes of great Aszú wines with long ageing potential. Throughout the entire region the 2017 vintage yielded the same quality as 2013 but with a better final balance and higher acidities combined with unbelievable richness. We believe the 2017 Aszú’s are on a par with our greatest vintages of: 1993, 1999, 2000, 2003,2008.

There was a cold snowy start to 2017 and temperatures remained below average during February. The weather warmed in March with budding aided by well-distributed rainfall. Vines remained healthy during spring. Continued light but widespread rain raised our hopes for a good Aszú vintage with our expectations turning to reality after a hot August with the first signs of botrytis on our grapes.

We began harvesting our 2017 Aszú berries on 1st. September, with the early ripening grape varieties of Kabar and Kövérszőlő. We continued to pick steadily as other parcels planted with Furmint and Hárslevelű became ready – the autumn months were ideal for a fine quality Aszú berry harvest, in particular three textbook weeks in October of early morning mists, afternoon sunshine and drying winds. Each Aszú berry is picked by hand selecting only the highest quality berries, with perfect botrytis. Each picker only brings in between 5 to 10kgs of berries a day.

The excellent Aszú berries with good structure and perfect botrytis were macerated in fermenting must for two days. After pressing and finishing fermentation in stainless steel our Blue and Gold Label wines were transferred into 300L or 500L Hungarian oak (grown on the nearby Zemplén mountains) casks to mature in our cool, deep labyrinth of 13th century underground cellars. For the first time our 2017 single vineyard Aszú wines were fermented as well as matured in 300L or 500L oak casks in our cellars to increase their complexity and give them greater depth. Each cask was monitored daily to check the progress of fermentation.
We believe that our wines develop more character and complexity from ageing on light lees. Our Aszú wines are matured for more than two years in cask. The final blends were carefully crafted in Spring and bottled in early summer 2020.

The 2017 Tokaji Mézes Mály 6-Puttonyos, which comes from vines on loess soils, has a beautiful nose. Very pure but not intense, it offers scents of honeysuckle, clementine, lemon sherbet and a touch of black currant leaf, all showing wonderful definition. The palate is is very well balanced with impressive weight, but like the nose, there is a subtlety, a lightness of touch from start to finish. Elegant and poised, this is a very classy effort from one of Tokaji’s most
renowned sites and it will age with class. 2,665 bottles produced.  Drinking Window 2025-2055

The 2017 Tokaji Betsek
6-Puttonyos comes from Royal Tokaji’s largest vineyard site, a crescent-shaped parcel on black volcanic soils. This has a very harmonious, Sauternes-like bouquet with orange blossom and wild peacharomas percolating through with time.
The palate is poised and focused, delivering vibrant energy, a touch of spiciness on the back palate and outstanding length. This could turn out to be their finest single-vineyard release.  4,606 bottles produced. Drinking Window 2028-2060

The 2017 Tokaji Nyulászó
6-Puttonyos comes from vines on brown volcanic soils overlooking the town of Mád. This has a lighter and perhaps less complex bouquet compared to Royal Tokaji’s other cuvées, though it develops nicely in the glass to reveal lemon verbena, dried mango and wild peachy scents. The palate is much more open, its impressive weight and concentration effortlessly counterbalanced by a fine line of acidity. This is very harmonious and poised, and almost Sauternes-like toward the finish. Give it 5–8 years in the cellar to allow those aromas to open. 5,541 bottles produced. Drinking Window 2027-2047

The 2017 Tokaji Szt. Tamás
6-Puttonyos comes from red-clay topsoils in the commune of Mád. This is more backward compared to the Mézes Mály, and very much more citrus-driven, featuring lemon peel, orange zest and crushed stone aromas; the Aszú element
is more discreet. The fresh, vibrant palate is well balanced and harmonious, offering a fine bead of acidity and candied orange peel toward the finish. Edgier than Royal Tokaji’s other 2017s, and perhaps spicier on the finish, this will be fascinating to observe mature in bottle. 3,635 bottles produced. Drinking Window 2027-2050

The 2017 Tokaji Gold Label
6-Puttonyos, a selection of barrels from Royal Tokaji’s single vineyards, has a very welldefined bouquet featuring pure Aszú scents, energetic and citrus-driven, with lemon peel, clementine and a touch of smoke emerging with time. The zesty palate is very well balanced with a wonderful line of acidity and, like the nose, full of energy. There is a sense of linearity toward the finish and an underlying bitter edge on the aftertaste that draws you back for another sip. Excellent.
The 2017 Tokaji Blue Label 5-Puttonyos is a selection of the finest Aszú berries from across the region. This is the cuvée where I was expecting more on the nose, which seems a little taciturn at the moment and, despite my allowing the sample to aerate, never quite clicks into gear. The palate is a different matter: poised, intense and lightly spiced, with a gorgeous viscous texture. But surprisingly, of the six cuvées that I tasted from Royal Tokaji this vintage, the Blue Label is the one where I wanted more.
Drinking Window 2024-2038 / 2027-2045

Neal Martin



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