Furmint is to Tokaj what Riesling is to Germany, or Chardonnay is to Burgundy, but strangely it has the ability to move with great agility between differing styles, exuding a range of characteristics that are unique and very enjoyable.
Master of Wine, Caroline Gilby, was spot on when talked about the versatility of Furmint, at a recent tasting in central London. The sweet Tokaji wines are well documented as the ‘Wine of Kings’, but many people I know are not so well acquainted with the Hungarian dry whites made using Furmint. This should surely change.
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A range of styles
One of the impressive aspects of the tasting for me was the chameleon-like expressions of different producers. The first producer I tasted was Barta Winery, Tokaj. There Oreg Kiraly Furmint, 2015 (Importer: Corney & Barrow), has very good balance of zinging acidity and pure fruit. A wine of quality, and with a RRP of £23.95, very fair value.
Another example is the Tokaji Furmint Kozephegy, 2016 from Zsirai Winery, Tokaj. It is hedonistically rich, rounded by oak, ripe sunny fruit, supported by a backbone of acidity, reminiscent of Burgundian style (Importer: Jascots).
By contrast, the Patricius Winery’s (Tokaj), Furmint Selection, 2017 (Importer: Enotria & Co.), is lean and dry. Super fresh acidity and pure fruit, more Chabli-esque.
I particularly liked the Szent Tamás Winery’s (Tokaj), MAD One, 2015, served in magnum (Importer: Alliance Wine). This dry Fermint is richly textured, with fresh cut apples and pears, and tingling acidity that leaves the palate satiated, yet wistful (hence the need for magnums?!).
Gizella Winery’s (Tokaj) Bomboly, 2017, 100% Furmint, is very precise, super elegant, with fresh ripe flavours of pear that coat the mouth, before gently ebbing away.
Small Artisan Production
As the trend for smaller, more artisanal production continues to grow, and personal stories and ambitions become part of the wine narrative, it was fun to taste some of the smaller and, as yet, unrepresented producers at the tasting.
A good example is Erika Rácz, owner and producer at Sanzon Tokaj, a 5-hectare organic estate, with old vines set on volcanic soils. The expression of Furmint here is pure mineral, fresh; a crispness tempered with a year in oak barrel.
“Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” (“Wine of Kings, King of Wines”)
Louis XV’s quote above is certainly a good enough strap-line for any fine wine. Due to the limited time paired with my gentle pace circumnavigating a very busy room, I only tasted a few of the sweet Tokaj wines.
The presence of acidity, the delicacy and sensuality give sweet Tokaj it’s world-class reputation. I was impressed by the quality of the Disnókö Winery’s !413 Szamorodni (RRP. £17.00) and Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2011 (RRP £35) (Importer: Gonzalez Byass). Both luxurious blends of Furmint and Hárslevelü, combining sweetness, depth of flavours, and lift of freshness.
The tasting organisers were keen to announce that during February, anyone buying and trying wines made from Hungarian Furmint should announce it on their social media platforms with the hashtag: #FurmintFebruary19, and also checking in at the retailer. Prizes of cases of wine and even a trip to Tokaj are up for grabs.
A selection of retailers who sell dry Furmint:
There are doubtless many more retailers than this list who offer dry Furmint, so it is best to ask the assistant in your local wine shop. Even if they don’t, your enquiry will be putting it other radar!
Hennings Wine - https://www.henningswine.co.uk/product/kardos-dry-furmint/
Hedonism Wines - https://hedonism.co.uk/search/?term=furmint
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