A tasting of Hungarian Furmint dry white wine – by Steve Ferree

On April 21 FurmintUSA brought together several Furmint wineries and local trade and media at the San Francisco Wine School to introduce several dry Furmint wines from Hungary.

The Furmint grape is a major component to Tokaj’s luscious and distinctive Aszú dessert wines, but it is unknown to American wine lovers as a dry varietal wine. Many international wine experts compare Furmint as a wine with the weight and structure of Chardonnay, the fruitiness of Chenin Blanc, and the acidity and minerality of Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Furmint is an indigenous grape to Hungary and has been grown in the area since 1611. Thus Furmint USA is out to put Furmint in its rightful place among the world’s best as Hungary’s flagship white varietal.

With its strong character, rich acidity, diverse flavors and aromas, coupled with its complexity and aging potential, Furmint is the perfect accompaniment to a full range of dishes from soup and salad to desserts.

Let’s take a look at the home of Furmint, Tokay Wine Region. This region is located about two hours’ drive from Budapest and is home to almost 100 wineries producing wines that are well up to international standards. It is the first DOC in the world, established and recognized in 1787. It has about 15,000 acres in production which is about one quarter the size of Napa. It is mostly famous for its sweet wines, but of the six varietals grown here, Furmint accounts for 70% of the production. During the Communist period in Hungary they focused on large production wineries producing wine for the people. During this time Tokaj Furmint fell into oblivion on the world stage.

St. Donat Estate is located in Csopak, in the hills above Lake Balaton. Here the diversity of local soils, an exceptional microclimate and a timeless history of viticulture combine to help vintners create wines unique to this area. The 2014 Estate Furmint delivers aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple and pear and would pair nicely with Asian cuisine. The 2013 Marga Furmint is made from grapes found in the marl-rich vineyards of the area. You will enjoy the citrus, green apple and toast qualities of this wine.

Holdvölgy winery means “Valley of the Moon”. It is a small vineyard in the Mad Valley. The 2012 Hold and Hollo Dry Furmint has an excellent vibrant nose and follows on with flavors of apple, pear and peach. The 2013 Vision Furmint offers aromas and flavors of lemon drop, flowers, spices and even a bit of honey in a full bodied wine with excellent acidity

Béres Winery focuses on rich full Hungarian wines. The 2014 Estate Furmint is a fresh and fruity wine with crisp acidity. The 2011 Lőcse Furmint is a single-vineyard dry wine fermented and aged in oak barrels with nice acidity and minerality.

Majoros Estate was founded from a long line of winemakers and the vintners focused on Furmint with many creative processes. The 2013 Deak Furmint is a lively wine aged in Hungarian oak barrels delivering flavors of quince, vanilla, peach and a touch of vanilla.

Barta Winery was founded in 2003 and is owned by the Barta Family. Eighty percent of the grapes on the estate are Furmint. We tasted their 2012 Old King Furmint which had great acid and citrus flavors. We also enjoyed their Szamorodni Sweet Furmint made from overripe botritysed Furmint grapes.

Grof Degenfeld Winery is a true Hungarian chateau sitting on an 86 acre estate in Tokaj. They produce high quality wines. The 2013 Estate Furmint is produced from organically grown grapes selected by hand and delivers a nice crisp taste. The 2014 Zomborka Furmint is produced exclusively from grapes from the Zomborka vineyard and aged in Hungarian oak.

Erzsébet Cellar is a family project and everyone in the family hold dual degrees in viticulture and oenology. The 2012 Estate Furmint has great acidity, balance and great fruity taste. The 2012 Zafir Furmint uses grapes from a single vineyard and includes mostly Furmint with a touch of Harslevelu.

Kvaszinger Winery is owned by a young winemaker in the village of Olaszliszka. The 2013 Estate Furmint is delicious with citrus and green apple aromas and flavors and nice acidity.

Basilicus Winery is another young winery in Hungary’s Tokaj wine region. We tasted their 2012 Szamorodni Sweet Furmint, a fresh, light delightful sweet wine with citrus, honey and peach notes.

Published on: 23/04/2016
By: Steve Ferree