There are only 20 bottles of the unique Royal Tokaji Essencia which was produced in 2008 and is worth $40,000. Still, 11 bottles of it have been sold already.
According to CNN, 18 of the unique 1.5-litre magnums designed by Hungarian-based artist James Carcass were released last year. When they appeared, the producing company said that it was the world’s most expensive wine, which is, of course, hard to quantify, but since you have to pay 40 thousand dollars to drink 1.5 litres, it makes it unique on the market. Furthermore, the wine comes in specially hand-blown bottles so there are no two that are completely identical.
Royal Tokaji Wine Company already sold 11 of the 18 bottles, so
there are seven more waiting to find their new owners.
The first bottle was opened and consumed in China on a collector’s New Year’s Eve party, but Pope Pius X (1903-1914) drank it regularly as well and survived much longer than anybody expected.
The Royal Tokaji Essencia is unbelievably valuable because only the best aszú grapes can be used for it, which is made entirely from the juice of aszú berries. Furthermore, the whole process takes many years of careful work, and Essencia can be produced only in years with perfect weather conditions for botrytis. Moreover, it takes about a kilogram of “incredibly ripe” aszú grapes to produce just a teaspoon of it, Orsi Szentkirályi, a London-based Hungarian wine professional, told CNN.
Even though it only reaches a couple of degrees of alcohol, people can feel light-headed even after a few sips of it. Therefore,
it is usually not served in glasses but spoons.
Zoltán Kovács, the general manager at the Royal Tokaji Winery, said that the winemaker decides whether to bottle an Essencia or not in a given year. Four, five, or even ten years may pass without producing even one bottle of it. For example, the 2008 Essencia was bottled after eight years of maturation.
The liquid is thick and syrupy and has a very distinct and intense flavour.
Interestingly, a special permit from the Hungarian government was required to bottle Essencia 2018 in 1.5-litre decanters – present laws only allow a maximum capacity of 0.5 litres.
- One more reason to visit: Europe’s cheapest glass of wine is in Budapest!
- Egri Bikavér, the ultimate Hungarian wine for Christmas
- Globetrotting wine writers tackle Hungary: The unsung hero in the old world of wine
The managing director of Royal Tokaji, Charlie Mount, said that “It really is one of a kind.” He added that he is not sure whether they can ever reproduce these 18 bottles. However, today, the world is talking about Hungarian wine again, which is a huge success, he declared. Since the expiry date of the Essencia is 2300, they expect that
it will be popular among collectors in the future.
According to CNN, the Essencia 2008 is available by the spoon at various restaurants and hotels in the United States and Italy.
Ms Szentkiralyi and Mr Mount agreed that Hungary has everything – climate, tradition, experience, and diversity of wine styles – to produce perfect wines, and there is a lot of unexplored potential in this respect in the country. Essencia is made in Hungary’s Tokaj wine region, located northeast of Budapest, which serves as a popular day trip for travellers visiting the capital city. Visitors can even arrange private tours of the winery and taste wines of a wide range. Interestingly,
Tokaj and the wine produced there is incorporated even in the Hungarian national anthem.