Hello friends. Back in November 2012, we wrote about and offered a bunch of wines from Kiralyudvar, which was at the time a lovely little under-the-radar Tokaji producer. Sales were honestly just so-so, but the enthusiasm among the list members who did try the wines was high.
Since then, it’s like the entire world learned about Kiralyudvar all at once. Strong reviews have poured in from all angles – Wine Spectator, Tanzer’s IWC, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits – and suddenly Kiralyudvar has gone from please-can-you-help-us-sell-this-wine to I’m-sorry-this-wine-is-allocated.
It has actually taken several weeks – and a few moments where I though the offer would never happen – to get this offer to print, not something I would have expected for a trio of wines from Tokaji. But there you have it. Given the parcel sizes we settled on, I would not expect these to be available on reorder.
Now then, a reminder on what makes Tokaji – and Kiralyudvar – especially exciting. Tokaji is a region in Hungary (location here), and it gets its hooks into most of us via its otherworldly sticky wines, which are part of the holy trinity of botrytis-affected sweet wines (Sauternes and Trockenbeerenauslese being the others). Where Kirlayudvar is exciting is that in addition to its ravishing sweet wines, they’re also producing head-turning dry wines and (!!) sparkling wines.
The winery traces its history to the 11th century, and Kiralyudvar has spent most of those thousand years as property of the Hungarian royal family. After World War I, the estate was transferred to the Tokaj Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology, and by the 1990s, the estate had fallen well out of fame.
That was the state of affairs in 1997, when Anthony Hwang came along. Hwang, a partner in famed Loire superstar Domaine Huet, purchased Kiralyudvar and brought with him Huet’s winemaker Noel Pinguet to consult on the project. Since then, the winery has been in the ascendancy, culminating in the bevy of positive reviews released during the past few years.
Today we have new vintages of the sparkling and the dry white. The Tokaji 6 Puttonyos is still on the same 2006 vintage as it was when we last offered it, so that one will technically be a reoffer. Let’s dig in:
2009 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Peszgo Henye (Sparkling)
I still remember tasting the previous vintage of this at an importer tasting and thinking that it outshone a number of the (much higher-priced) Champagnes it was poured next to. Basically, this is the wine that made me reconsider everything I knew about Hungarian wine. From a single biodynamic vineyard called Henye, this is 85% Furmint and 15% Harslevelu (the two primary grapes of the region), and it goes through primary fermentation in – you guessed it – Hungarian oak barrels, using only indigenous Tokaji yeasts.
Better still: while the Champenois must use a mixture of still Champagne and sugar for their dosage, the Hungarians instead have the perfect nectar sitting around for dosage: Tokaji Aszu; in this case a special Aszu-Esszencia sweet wine from Kiralyudvar’s Danczka vineyard. Brilliant! A nose with plenty of leesy notes – baked bread and smoky toffee – is lifted by high-toned mint and Ricola and lemon drop. Seriously intense and seriously long, the palate goes on and on with its citrus and stone fruits, its dark bready notes. The balance of dosage and acidity is lovely.
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”
Wine Enthusiast (Anna Lee Iijima): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
2011 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
Wine & Spirits: “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”
Those are similar to my notes, capturing the combinations of citrus and nut, mineral and tea leaf, that make this wine so alluring. It has the pleasing plumpness of a white Rhone wine but the sturdy acid spine of something from the Loire Valley. I guess it’s really in a category all its own, with loads and loads of character, and all this wonderful intensity and depth with no spare-tire fat.
2006 Kiralyudvar Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos (500ml)
And the grand prize. Tokaji Aszu ranges from 3 Puttonyos (least sweet) to 6 Puttonyos (most sweet), and these are rare treasures indeed. All the Aszu wines combined represent about 1% of Tokaji’s total production.
This clocks in at 11% alc, 203 g/l (20.3%) residual sugar, and 8.0 g/l total acidity. It’s the first 6 Puttonyos Kiralyudvar has produced since the 2003 vintage, and it’s a stunner. Honeyed pineapple, Rainier cherry, salty mineral tang, woodsmoke, botrytized notes of truffle and caramel, fresh lift of eucalyptus: it’s all there, on a dense, achingly delicious frame. Lovely now, but without question this wine’s best years are well ahead of it. A great Tokaji Aszu like this is a singular tasting experience.
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95(+?)pts.”
Wine Spectator (Nathan Westley): “($80); [REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 95pts.”
Please limit order requests to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.