Hungary’s Royal Tokaji releases $40k Essencia 2008

Hungary’s Royal Tokaji has released a limited number of decanters of its Essencia 2008 priced at US$40,000 (£30,391) each, claiming it to be the world’s most expensive wine of its kind.

Only 18 1.5-litre decanters of the Royal Tokaji 2008 Essencia have been produced

The wine was first released in October 2016, and was the sixth vintage produced since the Hungarian producer was founded in 1990, with the intervening vintages being 1993,1999, 2000, 2003 and 2007. 

Initially, just 2,906 37.5cl bottles of Essencia 2008 were produced at an RRP of £391. Now, 18 1.5-litre decanters have been made available at an RRP of US$40,000 (£30,391), following two years lobbying in Hungary by Royal Tojaki to allow for a bigger format.

As reported by Barrons.com, Charlie Mount, managing director at Royal Tokaji, said: “Essencia is a great source of national pride and is understandably protected. The exemption we have obtained – 1.5 liters in a bottle – will hardly ever be repeated, so these 18 decanters, already rare, may also be the first and last of their kind.”

Of all of the Tokaji wine produced in Hungary’s Tokaj region, in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, Essencia is its most rare. Made from the very best Aszu grapes that have been raisined by botrytis, the result is a highly concentrated, intensely sweet ‘wine’ with an ABV that rarely tips above 2%, with a minimum sugar content required for a Tokaji Essencia wine 450g/litre.

Tokaji Essencia can only be produced in exceptional years when the conditions are perfect for botrytis to develop, which shrivels Furmint, Harslevelű and Yellow Muscat grapes into brown raisins.

The 2008 vintage in Tokaj was very mild with rain in early summer and a dry August which was followed by a cool and wet September, creating the perfect conditions for botrytis to develop and affording grapes a longer ripening period. A long Indian summer began in October which turned a “good vintage into one of the greatest in living memory”, according to Royal Tokaji.

About 20kg of Aszu berries make a 37.5cl bottle of Essencia, compared with 181kg for these 1.5 litre decanters, with their free-run juice collected in glass demijohns to ferment. The must is so sweet that it takes years to ferment, with the wine’s high sugar balanced by high acidity, resulting in an unctuous, perfumed elixir capable of retaining its acidity and ageing over centuries. Harvesting of the grapes began in mid October, and continued for the following month, with individual raisined grapes picked by hand with scissors at a rate of less than 1kg an hour.

The 18 rare decanters will be marketed globally, with several already committed to international collectors, the first to a collector in Beijing, reports Barrons.com.

Royal Tokaji was founded in 1990 by British wine writer Hugh Johnson.

One Response to “Hungary’s Royal Tokaji releases $40k Essencia 2008”

  1. David Murphy says:

    For clarity is the wine in the mags actually different to the half bottles?

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