The 100% Furmint varietals are made in the international style, to showcase the exciting spicy character of this Hungarian grape variety. The Late Harvest Furmint is picked late, with 40 to 50% of the grapes having succumbed to noble rot (Aszu in Hungarian), giving concentrated sugars and a botrytis complexity. Fermentation lasts nearly a month, after which the wine is aged 6-8 months in cask.
Aszu wine production starts with specialised picking of individual botrytis-affected grapes. While the rest of the harvest is fermenting to dryness, these shrivelled grapes are pounded into a paste and stored in 20-25kg tubs, called Puttonyos (normally used for carrying grapes). The contents of these puttonyos are then mixed in with the base wine in fixed proportions ( 3 puttonyos per every 136 litre cask of base wine for Aszu 3 puttonyos, etc), and left to macerate 6 to 8 hours for extraction of sugar and flavour. After pressing, this sugar-rich mixture slowly continues fermentation, and subsequent long oxidative ageing in the cool, damp, mouldy cellars.
The very rare, but justifiably famous top-of-the-range Tokaji is pure Eszencia, a nectar fermented from the tiny quantities of free run juice that drain out of the puttonyos. The must has such high sugar levels that, even using special yeasts, fermentation progresses at a snail's pace.