Royal Tokaji in Hungary has put a number of its limited-edition Essencia 2008 Magnum decanters of dessert wine up for sale.
Asking price: €35,000.
“The stories of alchemy and magical health-giving properties swirl around Essencia,” states the sales blurb, “In the words of our founder Hugh Johnson, ‘Essencia is the world’s most concentrated essence of its ripest grapes’.”
And so it is that Royal Tokaji has been able to offer but a few bottles of Essencia only six times in its 26-year history: 1993, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2008.
“Essencia is the liquid gold that very slowly oozes from a pile of aszú grapes raisined by botrytis,” continues the publicity for the sale. So now you know.
But the panegyric continues: “It carries sweetness to such lengths that it feels stiff with sugar. It has so little alcohol that the legal definition of wine does not apply. You look at its chemical analysis and think there has been a mistake.
“We are putting this preposterous fluid into bottles? Not for mere drinking – Essencia is something you taste with friends, a sip at a time. It calls for perfect conditions for botrytis, the noble rot, to shrivel Tokaj grapes into ugly brown raisins.
“Heaped up together in collecting bins, they slowly leak their honeyed quintessence, drop-by-drop, to form an amber pool”.
All this for a drink with an ABV that rarely tips above 2% and you can stand-down your teeth for this one too as the minimum sugar content required for Tokaji Essencia is 450g/litre. Indeed, the must is so sweet that it takes years to ferment.
As for the container, eighteen 1.5 litre decanters have been hand-created by Hungarian-based artist James Carcass. His design is inspired by the Essencia slowly dripping from the individually-picked Aszú berries.
Each piece is hand-blown and -finished meaning that no two are exactly alike.
The decanters are shipped to Top Series in Portugal where each is scanned and a cork custom-fitted to its individual specifications. Top Series has a distinguished track record in providing the closures for some of the most exclusive bottlings in the world.
As part of its legal tradition Essencia can only be put into bottles of an approved design with a maximum volume of 0.5 litres so special permissions had to be obtained to bottle it in this unique format, thus only eighteen 1.5-litre decanters of the Royal Tokaji 2008 Essencia have been produced.
Finally, the lacquered box in which each decanter is presented contains a lighting system to highlight the golden elixir therein.
Several of the decanters are already committed to international collectors with the first being sold to a collector in Beijing.