Esszencia. . . . Anyone had/like it?

This “wine” intrigues me greatly if only for being one of the most extreme versions of anything that can be called “wine” or even “beverage.” This group seems to be pretty worldly, and I’m curious if there are some lovers/haters out there that can provide 2 cents on the subject.

I’ve had a few Tokaji wines, but usually of very moderate quality and around 3 puttonyos.

1993 Pajzos Esszencia is one of my favorite wines, though I’ve only had it twice. These wines to me are for special occasions with good friends to be consumed in small quantities over a couple of evenings. They are an absolute treat but I don’t want 2 big glasses of it in one evening. As with most things I feel it is best enjoyed in moderation. They are much more intense and sweet than what you have had but the good ones are magical. I rarely open an Esszencia but when I do it is often the wine that gets the coolest reactions. Love sharing these with friends that haven’t had it before and watching their face light up.

A generous colleague opened a bottle for us. I remember it was $1/ml. $500 for a 500ml bottle. Came with a very nice crystal (or just pretty) bottle and glass/crystal serving spoon.

Very very sweet and nice, and definitely only a small portion is necessary to enjoy the end of a meal.

I wouldn’t buy it for myself, but I probably prefer TBAs.

Have you tried other Esszencia or just the Pajzos 1993? I have never tried one but know that the 93 was much cheaper for some reason, and some people say that it’s not as concentrated as real esszencia.

I just had a Royal Tokaji Esszencia ,not sure thebyear but a more recent vintage, but that’s the only other one I’ve had. Not claiming to be an expert by any means just offering an opinion from my limited experience. I honestly can’t comment on how the concentration of the Pajzos compares to the Royal Tokaji Co as its been at least a year between trying the two. I will say the recent Royal Tokaji was crazy sweet and concentrated but absolutely fantastic.

Sweet like PX?

I don’t think there is anything as sweet as a Pedro Ximenez - Esszencia reminds me of a white Recioto, with a remarkable lightness on the palate considering how rich they are - with age they seem to fill out more - When I first got into the wine business in the late 1970s, vintages from the late 50s, early 60s were dirt cheap (considering what they sell for today) and were some of the first great sweet wines I’d ever tasted.

I have had the Pajzos 1993 twice and it was absolutely spectacular both times. I have had Esszencia a few other times over the years (including one on the same night as the Pajzos) and the Pajzos is the real deal. Though, with the other one side by side, it was super concentrated but just slightly less so than the other one (though it was more complex and preferred between the two overall).

I would generally agree, although to a certain extent it really depends on the PX. But an old vintage PX (like an Alvear) is not only much sweeter than an Esszencia, but it’s also drastically more viscous with less acidity–think a dessert-style used motor oil and you’re getting close to an old vintage PX.

But what they both share is incredible concentration. They are dessert wines you slowly sip and savor.

Bruce

The wine is deeply layered and complex if you like lots of unctuous peach & apricot flavors, stone fruit, etc. I think they’ve fermented up to 3-4 years just to get it to ~5% alcohol. The top wines I’ve had were from Ch. Pajzos, Royal Tokaji & Oremus. I was fortunate to get to try a bunch of 1993’s, that will be an eternal vintage for these wines. Like everything else these wines were never cheap but a quick look on W-S shows the 93’s are still reasonable vs. other lesser vintages.

There is also the juice which is 1% abv or less. It tastes similar IMO, if a bit lighter, but you can pick up a 200ml on occasion for $30-40 if you just want a one-time experience.

When looking at pricing, don’t forget there is a differentiation between Aszu Essencia & ‘pure’ Essencia. There is a difference with vineyard quality and total sugar concentration, I think.

There isn’t any more Brent - the designation of Aszú-essenzcia is gone. That was a designation created because of the wine’s debasement under communism. The top wine was always the 6 Puttonyos, but since the Soviets wanted more than could be produced, they sold lower-tier stuff as 6 P, and consequently wanted another tier for the “best” and that’s where they came up with that designation. It was about sugar, not vineyards, but it’s gone now and once again the 6P is the top bottling.

Have you tried other Esszencia or just the Pajzos 1993? I have never tried one but know that the 93 was much cheaper for some reason, and some people say that it’s not as concentrated as real esszencia.

Not sure what that means. The reason it was cheaper is because at the time it was made, the growers in the region didn’t really have the capacity to take advantage of what nature gave them. Don’t forget, it had only been three years since the change of government and they were only just starting to undo some of the horrors of the past forty-odd years. So Pajzos was able to buy a lot of grapes from growers. They can’t do that any more, because they’re supposed to use their own vineyards so those 1993s are kind of historic in a way, but they’re also still “real”. I’ve talked to the guy who made the wine and asked him about it - just finished a bottle of his own wine last night actually. Not in the same league unfortunately, although he’s one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.

The whole idea of bottling the essenzcia is kind of a new thing too, mostly done for Americans who think that if some is good, more is better. So with sugar, the more the better, although that’s far from the truth. In years past, that essenzcia was put back into the aszú wines - taking it out was stealing the soul of the aszú wines. Most of it gets lost in filtering too - you have to filter because it’s so full of other material that might spoil. If you’ve decanted a vintage Port and still have a bit of wine at the bottom with all the sediment, that’s what it’s like before filtering. So a lot gets lost.

It’s interesting to taste at least once and the Pajzos wasn’t as thick or rich as some I’ve had, but in general it’s not really enjoyable in amounts of more than a spoonful because it’s so sweet. You wouldn’t eat honey by the spoonful either, and that’s a close comparison. OTOH, a good 6P or even a 5P is one of the finest wines made on this earth.

PX is very different and for me, often undrinkable. Bruce has it right - far less acidity and very thick. OK in small amounts. As compared to the essenzcia, it’s thicker, sweeter, more obvious by far and less complex. In comparison to a good aszú it’s very clumsy and rough.

edited as I was responding to my own misinterpretation of Greg’s post.

On a relevant note, Greg, when was Aszu Essencia (however one spells it) done away with? I know it was still used after the end of communist rule, at least for some time.

Correct. I have had Aszu Eszencia quite a few times but not pure Eszencia. Aszu, one can drink a bit but the pure Eszencia stuff, you are just meant to sip a teaspoon (and that is included with the bottle).

I dunno, I love a good spoonful of honey.

I had several times an Essencia Tokaji - one 1972, 2 or 3 from the 60ies (1964 …) and a 1957 (my vintage) which was the best not only because the oldest. Especially the latter was really fine, very sweet but also with lively acidity … but I would not say these wines are “better” than other sweet wines like Sauternes/Barsac, Austrian or German TBAs or Loire sweets …
IMHO sweetness is not everything - and the sweeter the better is not true … it is a question of balance between res-sugar and acidity together with the (preferably) aged aromas that makes a wine great - or only sweet.

I had the 93 Pajzos last year alongside a 90 d’Yquem.
The Esszencia is unique, but not world-changing for me.
Still, not a bad night

I actually like PX quite a bit, esp. when it’s an older vintage that’s had time to develop layers of aromas and flavors. But because of its sweet, viscous character, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s something to sip slowly and savor, and it’s probably best on its own rather than worrying about pairing with dessert. Although it probably could be quite good with a blue cheese.

Bruce

Is good with blue cheese. One of the few wines in the world that can stand up to it besides maybe a Tawney Port.

Doug - just in the last few years. I don’t know for certain but I think it was the decision of some of the better winemakers to abandon it - Szepsy for example, said a few years ago that he wanted his 6P to be his top wine.

Gerhard - you are exactly right. More sweetness is not better. I actually got nauseous drinking too much esszencia one time. A good 5 or 6P isn’t a great wine simply because it’s sweet, it’s a great wine because the sweetness is balanced by piercing acidity that is interwoven with layer after layer of complex flavors and aromas. To me, what makes them “better” (personal opinion of course) than most others is that while sweet, they’re also elegant. Sort of like Mozart instead of say, Hindemith. Well, maybe not that extreme. Say Mozart instead of Tchaikovsky! Everybody likes Pyotr but he does weary one after a time.

Cheers!

I would also say those comments can be applied to most (all?) of the world’s great dessert wines. When you’re doing a wine dinner with lots of tannic red wines, it’s easy to be “wowed” (at least, initially) with a very sweet dessert wine. But with enough experience, you realize that sweetness on its own isn’t the goal–it’s the balance of sugar and acid, and the overall complexity of the wine. If all you’ve got is the vinous equivalent of that sweet syrup at the bottom of a can of fruit cocktail, then that gets tiring very quickly.

Bruce

Well, better say: Mendelssohn-B versus Tschaikovsky (that´s how we spell him here) [whistle.gif]

(T. wrote much too many sequences … at least for my taste)
[wink.gif]

(Mozart is one of only 3 or 4 geniuses - well and far above the crowd)