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Central and Eastern European Wine
The best wine coming out of central and eastern Europe is Tokaji Asz˙, a sweet wine named after the town Tokaj in Hungary.

Central and Eastern European Wine
Tokaji is a wine-growing region in Hungary, and Asz˙ means noble rot. So wines labeled Tokaji Asz˙ are made from botrytis-affected grapes and are thus sweet. They display the characteristic flavors of apricot and marmalade, like those of Sauternes in France and Burgenland in Austria. It's worth bearing in mind that Tokaji produces dry and sweet wines so make sure the word Asz˙ appears on the label if you're looking for the sweet version. Central and Eastern European Wine

Central and Eastern European Wine
The more "puttonyos" indicated on a bottle of Tokaji Asz˙, the sweeter the wine. A minimum of three puttonyos and a maximum of six can appear on labels. Puttonyos comes from the word puttony, which was the name given to the portable troughs traditionally used to dump nobly rotten grapes into a barrel of dry base wine during the process of making Tokaji Asz˙. The more puttonyos tipped in, the sweeter the resulting wine. Puttonies are no longer used of course, but the wine labels still reflect this tradition.

Central and Eastern European Wine
Beyond six puttonyos, an even sweeter wine called Asz˙ Eszencia exists, but it is very rare and seriously expensive.

Central and Eastern European Wine
The best producers of Tokaji Asz˙ are Szepsy and Kirßlyudvar. Production levels are small, and the wines are expensive to produce and purchase, but the quality is outstanding.

Central and Eastern European Wine
Classic flavors of Tokaji Asz˙ are warm caramel, luscious apricot, and rich honey. Other sweet wines may be more popular, but this wine is often better.

Central and Eastern European Wine
The best recent vintages for Tokaji Asz˙ are 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2003.

Central and Eastern European Wine
Hungary also produces dry wine, notably from the Furmint grape. The wine tends to be crisp and taste of honey and apples.

Central and Eastern European Wine
The Bulgarian wine industry is trying to improve its quality and reputation. Today, the country's wine remains average at best compared to wine of the same price from other wine regions of the world.

Central and Eastern European Wine
Everything-he-touches-turns-to-gold wine consultant Michel Rolland has just added a Bulgarian winery to his client list. He is now working with Telish Wine Cellars in Northern Bulgaria to improve the quality of this producer's wines. Expect good things to come.

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