While the earliest origins of winegrowing in the Tokaji region of Hungary's north-east are unknown, what is known is that Hungary was producing sweet, botrytised wines two hundred years before the first Sauternes were ever made. And by 1700 these unique wines were being drunk by royalty right across Europe. The region suffered heavily during the war and declined during communist rule up until 1989. When communism came to a close, investment flooded in to the region and its renaissance continues today. Of the six authorised grape varieties, Furmint is by far the most important, though Hárslevelű and Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat) are also significant. Having the word Aszú in the name of a Tokaji refers to the dried, nobly-rotted grapes, which are hand-picked from the vines. The number of Puttonyos is an indication of sweetness, with two being the driest and six the sweetest. A wine that is equivalent to 7 Puttonyos is known as Aszú Essencia (or Eszencia) and is only produced in the very best years. Aszú Essencia is incredibly sweet and can be considered amongst the greatest dessert wines in the world.
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