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.
|Sponsor: Antler Lamps from Redmile London|
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
An aperitif by the coliseum
As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.
Artichoke pasta and very fine Pigato
Britain’s lamentable exit
On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.
I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!
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Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.
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Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
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The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.
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Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch.