In north-eastern Hungary, the Tokají Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape consists of 28 named villages and 7,000 hectares of classified vineyards. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Hungary’s most famous wine region (renowned for its white and sweet dessert wines).
Its landscape represents a distinct viticultural tradition that has existed for at least a thousand years and it’s one of the most magical landscapes in the country. The Tokají Wine Route mixes beautiful natural sceneries, pretty villages and wine trails in a lovely journey that will not only conquer wine lovers but also those interested in traditions and typical customs.
Tokají wine has a special status among noble wines. Its unique flavour is a result of several factors that make up its distinctive personality: the grape varieties of Tokaj-Hegyalja -Furmint, Hárslevelű and Muscat de Lunel; the carved cellars; the small wooden casks in which wine is barrel-aged; and of course, the Tokaj’s microclimate that provides the ideal conditions needed to produce this world-class wine. The south facing slopes, the nearby Tisza and Bodrog rivers and the warm summers and long and sunny autumns all play a part in the proliferation of botrytis (noble rot) giving the wine its unique taste.
The most famous wine of the Tokaj region is the Tokají Aszú, a dessert wine that is loved by many artists and dignitaries. Louis XIV famously called it “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”.
Although Tokaj is popular because of its wines, the region also has a rich heritage that is waiting to be discovered. The town of Tokaj is undoubtedly a must-see destination but the region also has many others small villages worth exploring, such as Erdöbénye, one of the region’s most charming villages that has long been a centre of traditional barrel making. The village of Mád (one of the epicenters of winemaking in the region) with its Jewish cemetery located on the edge of the village and its beautifully renovated synagogue is also well worth a visit.
Some of the experiences that are waiting for visitors on the Tokaj Route are the tastings of indigenous varietals; walking along the vineyards; or visits to the carved cellars, which are so unique (one of the largest cellar systems features 27 cellars connected on different levels), and let’s not forget that visitors have the chance to taste the local cuisine along the way.