Disznoko Dining

Two bottlesTokaji in eastern Hungary is one of the wine world’s most renowned regions. There has been a big push on dry table wines recently (Disznókö winemaker, László Mészáros, says that today 70% of all Tokaji is dry wine), but it is the sweet wines, made from Botrytis-affected grapes that put the region firmly on the fine wine map. Disznókö is a very high quality producer making a range of dry and sweet wines, but still focused on the latter.

I recently had the opportunity to taste two of Disznókö’s sweeter wines against four different food dishes. A fascinating tasting, it included two classic matches – a sweet, caramelised pudding and a foie gras-like smooth parfait – then two more unexpected dishes, a spicy barbecued pork and a lightly Middle Eastern-influenced aubergine and chickpea dish.

The Tokajis with Food

The wines were both absolutely lovely, as you will see from my tasting notes below. The Edes Szamarodni 2019 is a late-harvest wine with 131g/l of sugar, so fully sweet but lighter than the Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013, which is a Botrytis wine with 156g/l of residual sugar. Two dishes were matched with each:

BBQ pulled pork with charred orange and green pepper was first up with the Edes Szamarodni, and was sensational. I’d written my note on the wine before tasting the food, but the orange component of the wine stood out so vividly that the little bursts of charred orange in the dish absolutely sang. There was plenty of spice and pepper too, which the sweetness played against beautifully. A fabulous combination this.

Aubergine, chickpeas, green chutney, garlic sauce and peanut was earthier, and also matched to the Edes Szamarodni. A Thai-style dish, and although the spicing was not as pronounced with chilli and lemongrass as I’d suspected, it had a punch that married with the weight and light sweetness of the wine very nicely.

Three bird parfait (goose, duck and chicken) with heather honey butter
. Was first to take on the Tokaji Aszu. Creamy in texture and topped with a thick slab of the honey butter, the Tokaji completed the magic trick that it always does with foie gras, the texture created in the mouth quite irresistible as the twin blades of acidity and sweetness surge through the richness. It was sensational.

Caramelised passion fruit cake, melted flapjack, pineapple salsa was a lovely dessert in its own right, but matched with the 5 Puttonyos everything took on a new depth of flavour, from the toastiness of the caramel and chocolate, to the exotic fragrance of the pineapple. The wine was sweeter than the dessert meaning both could be appreciated fully.

The verdict

In all these were very convincing matches, my favourite possibly the pulled pork because of the chilli and those sparks of charred orange. So thinking beyond matching sweet Tokaji to foie gras and desserts is definitely recommended, just consider the flavours, textures and spicing of the food.

The Wines

(2024) 100% Furmint, this is fully sweet Tokaji, but in a lighter style, bottled with 131g/l of residual sugar. It is made from late-harvested rather than Botrytis-affected grapes and sees a little ageing under flor. Only 15% was fermented in barrel, the rest in tank, and the blend was matured for two years in seasoned barriques. Golden coloured and lush on the nose with apricot and barley sugar, a hint of mint or bergamot in there too. In the mouth it has a flowing texture rather than the somewhat thicker Aszu style, with plenty of toffeed, spiced orange sweetness and really nicely fresh and zipping citrus acidity that cleanses and propels the finish.
(2024) Redolent of acacia honey, this is fabulous stuff with 156g/l of residual sugar. A blend of 56% Furmint and 44% Hárslevelü, it spent two years in barriques, 25% of which were new. Such glycerine-rich aromas blending barley sugar and orange with vanilla and the dry, smoky, leaf-tea character of the Botrytis. In the mouth it is unctuous and rich without being too thick, and the core of shimmering lemon acidity that runs like a spine into the long, tapering, sweet peaches and cream finish is fabulous.

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