Furmint. Never heard of this one? Count yourself in good company, as there are only about 13,000 acres of this varietal grown around the entire world (compared to Chardonnay which has over 484,000 acres), which means this grape varietal flies under the radar for most!
Though not popular in the new world wine regions, Furmint (pronounced “foor-meent”) is the most famous grape of Hungary, used in white wines that are either single varietal or under the label of “Tokaj.” It’s made into wines covering the spectrum of dry to sweet, but is perhaps most notably used in Hungary’s botrytized dessert wine, “Tokaji Aszú,” which Karen MacNeil calls “not only the most stunning wine of Eastern Europe, but one of the greatest dessert wines in the world!” Makes you want to try it, right?
I’ve never been to Hungary, nor do I know much about Hungarian wines. I found a few interesting tidbits about the country’s wine history I thought I’d share:
- The Hungarian word for wine is “bor”
- The first wine classification system based on quality began in the Tokaj-Hegyalija region in the 1600s, way before those from France or Germany!
- Evidence of viticulture practices has been found here that dates back to the 9th century.
- There are 22 different wine regions in Hungary.
Specifically about Furmint, this white wine grape is one of the main grapes used in a wine called “Tokaji” – the “i” means “of,” so this particular wine is called “Of Tokay” when you translate it to English. Furmint makes up about 60% of the vines planted in Tokaj, the village. This grape grows well in cool climates and is late-ripening, which is partly responsible for its high acidity. Seeing as it’s pretty thin-skinned (similar to Pinot Noir), it’s also extremely susceptible to botrytis, or noble rot. Generally, wines made solely of the Furmint varietal are crisp and complex, with high acidity and minerality, and some floral notes. They can be quite rich, and can even be aged from 5-20 years. I’ve read that some recommended food pairings include herb-crusted poultry, sushi, or Chinese dumplings. Sign me up!
You can find it grown in Slovenia and Slovakia, and sprinkled throughout a few other countries, but if you want “classic” Furmint, you should look no further than Hungary! So that’s what I did…
Today we’re drinking the 2017 Evolúció Furmint from Tokaj, with an ABV of 11.5%. Before even cracking the bottle open, since this wine has been equated to Riesling, I assumed it’d be pretty dry with that ABV level.
Here it goes…
Appearance: This wine is pale lemon in color…if you just looked at it in the glass, you might think you were about to sip on a Pinot Grigio.
Nose: Notes of melon, orange blossom and white florals permeated from the glass.
Palate: Upon initial sip, I picked up on stone fruit flavors, like white nectarine. There was a delayed minerality which accompanied a delicious limeade flavor on the aftertaste.
Overall: This product of Hungary is definitely a winner in my book. The fact that it’s not as widely available is a bit disappointing, because as you may have picked up on in my earlier posts, I’m not generally a white wine drinker, but this one has certainly caught my attention.