Tokajské víno wine is produced in the Slovakian part of Tokaj wine region. It comprises seven communities and 565 hectares of vineyards.
Vintners in the Slovak wine region of Tokaj may use the Tokaj label (or Tokajský/-á/-é which means “of Tokaj” in Slovak) if they apply the same regulations as the Hungarian quality control regulations.
History of the wine region
Only a small part of the Slovak wine region of Tokaj was once part of the historic Tokaj wine region (also Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region or Tokaj-Hegyalja) of the Kingdom of Hungary. Due to the Treaty of Trianon the majority of the region (around 28 communities and some 5,500 hectares of vineyards) remained part of Hungary and a smaller part (3 communities and about 175 hectares of vineyards) became part of Czechoslovakia (today Slovakia). In 1959 four more villages were added by Czechoslovak legislation, although these did not comprise part of the historic region.
The dispute between the countries over the right of Slovakia to use the name Tokaj that started in 1958 for its wines was resolved in 2004 - the two countries came to an agreement in June 2004 under which wine produced on 565 hectares of land in Slovakia will be able to use the Tokajský/-á/-é label ("of Tokaj" in Slovak), providing that the Slovaks accept the Hungarian quality control regulations. With the accession of both Hungary and Slovakia to the European Union, the Tokaj name (including other forms of spelling) was given Protected Designation of Origin status. Currently, wine producers from both the Hungarian Tokaj region and the Slovak Tokaj region may use the Tokaj brand name.
The Tokaj vineyard region, with 907 ha, is the smallest of the six vineyard regions of Slovakia. It comprises seven towns in the Trebišov District: Bara, Čerhov, Černochov, Malá Tŕňa, Slovenské Nové Mesto, Veľká Tŕňa, and Viničky. Wine makers of these communities produce similar wines to those of the Hungarian wine region, across the border (although Hungarian winemakers maintain that the Slovak wines are usually produced using different techniques). Since 2005, the same regulations apply in Slovakia as in Hungary, but there are concerns regarding the quality of wines made in the Slovak region.
The "Designation of origin" dispute
Tokaj wine is, by its unique character, a luxurious commodity with a strong appeal to the international market.
The dispute started in 1964 when, for the first time, the then Czechoslovakia exported its excessive production of Tokaj wine to Austria, the market that used to be solely supplied with this commodity by Hungary. The conflict of interests was settled in a bilateral agreement according to which Slovakia - at the expense of the Czech beer-related concession on Hungarian part - was only allowed to export its overproduction of Tokaj wine to Hungary (which consequently re-labeled and re-exported it). This agreement expired in 1990 after which date the dispute arose again.
- Tokajské samorodné suché (samorodné derived from a Slovak word meaning "the way it was grown", suché means "dry"): Samorodné wine is set apart from ordinary wine in that it is made from bunches which contain a considerable proportion of botrytised grapes. Because of this, Samorodné is typically higher in extract than ordinary wine.
- Tokajské samorodné sladké (sladké means "sweet")is set apart from ordinary wine in that it is made from bunches which contain a bigger proportion of botrytised grapes.
- Tokajský výber (in Hungarian: aszú): This is the wine which made Tokaj world famous. It is a sweet dessert wine made by individually picking botrytised grapes and trampling them in huge vats to form a paste. Must is then poured on the paste and left to soak before the wine is transferred to wooden casks where fermentation in completed. The wines are graded from 2 to 6 putňa (Hungarian: puttony), representing the level of sugar and sugar-free extract in the mature wine.
- Tokajská výberová esencia (the Hungarian version is called aszú-eszencia)
- Tokajská esencia-nektár (meaning "essence-nectar")
- Tokajský mášláš (derived from the Hungarian word máslás)
- Tokajský fordítáš (derived from the Hungarian word fordítás)
Characteristics of the wine region
Some of the characteristics which make the Tokaj wine region unique are:
- Soil and microclimate: The Tokaj terrain consists of clay or loess soil on volcanic subsoil. The microclimate is determined by the sunny, south-facing slopes and the proximity of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers, and is conducive to the proliferation of Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot) and the subsequent desiccation of the grapes.
- Indigenous grape varieties: Furmint and Lipovina have been cultivated in the region for centuries and, together with Yellow Muscat and Zeta, are the only grape varieties officially permitted for use in the region.
- Cellars: A vast system of cellars has been carved out of solid rock. They provide a constant temperature of around 12 °C and high humidity of around 95%, which are ideal for the aging of Tokaji wines.
- Appellation system: A royal decree in 1757 established a closed production district in Tokaj, the world's first system of wine appellation. Vineyard classification began in 1730 and was completed by the national censuses of 1765 and 1772.
- Slovak wine
- Tokaj wine region (also Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region or Tokaj-Hegyalja) of Hungary
- Tokaji (Hungarian wines)
- "Tokaj Wine Road". Retrieved 2008-02-17.
- "Vinári začnú od júna opäť používať na etiketách názov Tokaj" (in Slovak). 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
- "A névért perelnék az uniót a tokaji gazdák". Népszabadság (in Hungarian). 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
- "Bitka o víno kráľov, kráľa vín. Slovensko-maďarské spory o značku Tokaj sa ťahajú už 34 rokov" (in Slovak). 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
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