World heritage wine regions: Tokaj, Hungary

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travel, Tokaj

Hungary’s Tokaj appellation, characterised by its rolling and verdant hills, has the distinction of being Europe’s first classified wine region. The thousand-year-old winemaking traditions that still remain in place today make it an obvious choice for UNESCO world heritage designation.

Home to the famous Tokaji-Aszú dessert wine (characterised by French King Louis XIV as ‘the wine of kings, the king of wines’), it is also noteworthy for its labyrinthine cellars where these historic sweet wines are stored.

The Ungvári cellar in Sátoraljaújhely, near the Slovakian border, comprises four floors which connect 27 different cellars, accessed from different, above-ground gates. Covered in extraordinary mould, the cellar labyrinth is one ingredient that contributes to the magic of these dessert wines.

Plan to stay in the village of Tokaj for stress-free, simple access to tasting rooms, hotels and restaurants. Logistics in Hungary are challenging: trains and buses are complicated to navigate and taxis are rare.

Wine buses do offer tours but you may also choose to hire a driver to take you from winery to winery (make sure you’ve made your tasting appointments in advance); drivers are essential as there’s a zero blood alcohol policy while driving here.

Time your visit to coincide with the annual Tokaji Wine Festival during the last weekend in May.

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