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Measure of Quality

Half a million for a single bottle of Tokaj wine

19 December 2011

Almost 30 bottles have been sold from the so-called museum wine range since April at SkyCourt. The world-famous Tokaj wine specialties have proved popular with foreign travelers since their appearance at the airport.

The Heinemann Duty Free shop offers eight types of museum wine from Tokaj Kereskedőház, all of them tokaji aszú, a type of sweet wine made from overripe grapes. The oldest (and most expensive) dates back to 1940, but even the youngest bottle is more than 23 years old. The unique vintage wines dating from 1940 to 1988 are primarily popular with passengers from the Central and Eastern European region, but several bottles have been purchased by customers traveling to the Far East as well. The mostly Russian, Ukrainian, Polish and Czech customers pay several hundred euros for the cheapest bottle and no less than EUR 1,800 euros (approximately HUF 540 000) for the most expensive 1940 vintage wine.

In return for the hefty price, travelers receive truly unique value and quality; the museum wines stored carefully over the decades in the wine cellars are kept at a special wine safe located in the airport shop, which is normally locked and guarantees the ideal temperature (12 degrees Celsius) and humidity. Shoppers can view replicas, so-called “dummy” bottles of all types of museum wine on the shelf above the safe, to be able make their decision. An official certificate from Tokaj Kereskedőház attests to the unique quality of the wines.
The most sought-after vintage is the 6 puttonyos (wooden vessel used to collect the grapes) 1988 aszú, of which 13 bottles have been sold so far. The 5 puttonyos aszú from 1972 comes second with 6 purchases to date. The third most popular choices of well-to-do shoppers are the 1956 5 puttonyos and the 1968 6 puttonyos aszú. One bottle of the most valuable wine on offer, the 1940 aszúesszencia (a sweet specialty made from the juice of aszú berries which runs off naturally from the vats in which they are collected during harvesting) has been sold so far to a Russian passenger, which is hardly surprising as more than one-third of all museum wines were snapped up by Russian citizens.

Not only museum wines, but “contemporary” Tokaj wines are also popular at the SkyCourt. At the Heinemann Duty Free, sales of Tokaj wines have increased by 12% in the space of one year. The duty free operator has dedicated a separate section within its 1500-square-meter store to Hungarian products. The shop generates 20% of its revenues from the sale of Hungarian produce. “When compiling the product range to be sold at the SkyCourt, it was an important consideration that the most popular international brands should be complimented with the best Hungarian products,” emphasized Alan Bork, retail director for Budapest Airport. “Our aim was to ensure that the new terminal building should offer a selection of the greatest global brands for Hungarian travelers and a slice of Hungary for our foreign passengers. We are delighted to see that the Tokaj wines are living up to expectations. They are unique, high-quality products which are worthy representatives not only of the Tokaj wine region, but of Hungarian wine-making and culture as a whole."

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