2010 Kiralyudvar Late Harvest Tokaji Cuvee Ilona 500 ml

Year: 2010
Appellation: Tokaji
Country: Hungary
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 96
Dessert Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 11.5%
Price :
$49.95

FYI: (this is the wine Melisse pours for it's tasting menu year round, when they are open)

"This strikes an intriguing balance between the lip-smacking frame of acidity and the rich profile of roasted nut, lemon confit, honeycomb and candied papaya flavors. Long and lingering on the finish, offering more nut hints, with smoke and spice accents. Drink now through 2025. -AN" (WS)

"The 2010 Tokaji Cuvée Ilona is a noble late-[harvest cuvée that blends 55% Furmint, 34% Hárslevelű and 11% Muskotály from the crus Danczka, Nyúlászó, Percze and Becsek. Vinified in 225-liter oak barrels and bottled with 11.5% alcohol (and 109 grams of residual sugar meeting 11 grams of total acidity and a pH of 3.07), this medium-intense amber colored Tokaji opens with a delicate, dark and spicy-flavored nose full of tobacco leaves, carrots, dried apricot and Muscat aromas. The wine is intense yet pure and fresh on the palate, with slicing acidity, almost bitter stone fruits and persistent concentration and power. It's an energetic, highly tensioned but linear and elegant 2010 with mouthwatering salinity in the finish. This 2010 is precise and long as a laser sword and has the potential to age for decades. Like the very best German wines from this vintage, this Ilona reminds me of the (Mosel and Rhine) 1921 vintage due to the combination of concentration, purity and razor-sharp acidity. It will probably never die (or at least not as fast as we all will). Mind that the 1921s are still vital like the best agers. (Tasted in February 2019.)

Since 1997, Királyudvar has been owned and operated by the Hwang family that also owns Domaine Huet in Vouvray (Loire, France). This 75-hectare estate and winery in Tarcal, Tokaj, dates back to the 16th century and is patterned after the original wine press house. The vineyards of the "King's Court," which supplied Tokaji wines to Hungary’s royal court as early as the 11th century before it was owned by the royal family for almost 200 years, are spread across six hillsides—Lapis, Henye, Percze, Becsek, Danczka and Nyulászón—within the appellations of Mád and Bodrogkeresztúr today. The grape varieties cultivated here are Furmint, Hárslevelű and Sárga Muskotály (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains), with an annual production between 5,000 and 6,000 cases. They have a state-of-the-art press house and bottling room, and the wines are aged in a series of labyrinth tunnels carved deep into the ancient stone. After having rebuilt the original structure and cellars, Anthony Hwang collected and rebuilt top vineyards throughout the region. In 2003, his company released its single-vineyard 1999 Tokaji 6 Puttonyos Lapis Aszú dessert wine that re-established Királyudvar as a serious producer with great ambitions. In 2006, the company introduced an exceptional Tokaji Sec, a pure and dry Furmint that became another milestone in a region recognized for its sweet wines. The 2008 and 2016 vintages of this wine are terrific, and along with other wines, they demonstrate the Hwang family's ambition to return Királyudvar to its past grandeur by handcrafting wines of the highest caliber that can compete with the greatest wines of the world. The series of wines I had the chance to taste along with the 2017 vintage of Domaine Huet also included the late harvested Cuvée Ilona sweet wine and the sensational 2001 Esszencia." (WA)

Winery Notes:
When Anthony Hwang loaded his family in the car and drove northeast from Budapest in 1997, he could hardly have imagined where the road would lead.

The trip was inspired by a Tokaji Aszú that a sommelier had recommended the previous evening. The wine made such an impression that Tony felt he had to learn more about it. For what Tony craved most in wine, this bottle offered in spades—a profound identity and razor-sharp balance.

Resurrecting a Legend:
Tokaj was once one of the world’s most prestigious wine regions; its top Aszú and Esszencia dessert wines were among the world’s most coveted and expensive. Yet two world wars devastated Tokaji’s traditional European markets and the decline continued under Communist rule.

But after the Iron Curtain’s fall, a few lone souls struggled to preserve the Tokaji legacy. The most prominent was Istvan Szepsy, whom Tony was determined to meet.

Tony was floored by the wines he tasted. He was moved by not only what was in the glass, but by the realization that, with investment and steady purpose, the region could again produce some of the world’s most unique and intriguing wines.

Royal Connections:
Just a few months after his visit, Tony purchased what was perhaps the region’s crown jewel, Királyudvar (Kee-RYE-oohd-var)—which for centuries had supplied Imperial wine to the Hapsburgs. Szepsy became a partner, helping Tony to rehabilitate the vineyards, while the château itself was rebuilt.

But with time, Szepsy departed and Tony assumed the reins full-time. By that point, Tony also owned the Loire Valley’s greatest Vouvray producer, Domaine Huët. The deep well of institutional knowledge there began to inform many decisions at Kiralyudvar, particularly a conversion to biodynamic viticulture.

Today, Tony is rekindling the legacy of this providential wine region. But he’s not stopping there, having recognized, for example, that the local varieties, with their viscous intensity and bright acidity, could produce world-class dry, demi-sec, and sparkling wines.