In praise of all things Furmint – The Hungarian Jewell in the crown part 2
It’s ‘Furmint February’ time again and I was lucky enough to attend a tasting here in the UK of Hungarian wines made with their national grape Furmint, the event was a triumph and a real showcase of how good these wines can be. So when I was invited again this year I jumped at the chance and in my opinion organisers ‘Wines of Hungary UK’ surpassed themselves with more wines on show and a stunning array of the different styles this grape can show itself as.
Never heard of Furmint?
Probably best known and renowned for being the principal grape in the world famous sweet Tokaji wine. The production of these sweet wines is dependent of a fungus called Botrytis which develops over time in moist conditions then dries out when the sun comes out causing the grapes to shrivel (called Azu) and become intensely sweet. The level of sweetness is measured by the unit Puttonyos ranging from 3 to 6, the Puttony refers to a basket or hod of the dried Azu grapes which are added to the barrel, the more added the sweeter the wine becomes.
Furmint is a late ripening grape resulting in high acidity and strong tannins and sometimes high alcohol levels. The name comes from the word ‘Froment’ the French word for wheat and relates to its golden colour and it is Hungary’s most planted variety.
In single-varietal form it produces a dry wine with high acidity, fresh crispness along with stone minerality and in some case a green herbaceous quality. It can also be aged in oak barrels giving it a more intense oily richness with some rich ripe tropical flavours but still retaining that trademark fresh acidity which may well appeal to lovers of Chardonnay.
Either style has its merits and is best consumed relatively young (within 4 years or so) although higher quality ones can age for longer – and gain complexity in the process. They also use Furmint to produce some impressive Sparkling wines.
Furmint February 2020 Tasting at Merchant Taylor’s Hall, London
Held at the impressive Merchant Taylor’s Hall which is one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies, organisations that evolved from Medieval London’s guilds.
As I said earlier this years tasting was a grande affair featuring 36 producers and around 150 wines. A lot of the producers had secured their product with leading UK wine importers but some were actively seeking representation, either way all the wines, without exception were stunning.
There were too many good ones to go into detail but here is a list of some of the more memorable drier styles along with a couple of sweeties and a memorable Sparkling wine.
- Sanzon Tokaj – Novel Wines
- Patricius – Enotria & Coe
- Mad Wine – Alliance Wine
- Mad Wine -Alliance Wine
- Fuleky Estate – Amathus Drinks Plc
- Grand Tokaj – Pol Roger Ltd
- Disznoko – GBUK
- Dereszla – Armit wines
- Juliet Victor Vineyards (sweet) – Looking for importer
- Gizella (sweet) – Wine Rascals
- Domaine Kreinbacher (Sparkling wine) – Looking for importer.
**Special note for the Domaine Kreinbacher Sparkling wine , probably one of the best I’ve tasted for a long time made with 100% Furmint this was pretty intense, citrusy, lots of acidity, yeasty and finishing with a slight creaminess.
So a pretty impressive tasting in all, I just hope that Furmint gets the praise in so rightly deserves. If you’ve not tried Furmint in any of the versions above I urge you seek out a bottle of each and try them, you may well be surprised, as I was, at how good these wines really are.
A few that are available in the UK stores are listed below, many more can be found in independent retailers……………..
Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint Special Reserve 2016 Laithwaite’s £12.49
Szolo Tempo Tokaj Furmint 2018 Wine Society £14.95
Keep an eye out in Lidl and Aldi they quite often have dry Furmint and here’s to ‘Furmint February’ in 2021