The Tokaji wine region conjures an intense, rich, quite sweet—and quite lovely—wine. In reality, there has been more than just one version of Tokaji; while each has its own wonderful characteristics, not every Tokaji wine is sweet .
Six official grapes give us Tokaji: Furmint, Hárslevelű, Sárgamuskotály (Yellow Muscat), a Furmint and Bouvier cross once called Oremus but now called Zéta, Kövérszőlő and a Hárslevelű and Bouvier cross called Kabar. (Bouvier is a Central European white grape.) Whether dry or sweet, the best Tokaji wines will be made up of about sixty percent Furmint.
The first time I had tasted a dry Furmint—in 2001 at my now defunct Manhattan wine shop—I was hooked. Over the past fifteen years, however, it has not been easy for the varietal wine to make it in the U.S. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that there is a marketing initiative called FurmintUSA.
Tokaji is an old Hungarian wine region, but no one seems to have pinned down its age. Some claim the third century Roman Emperor Probus was killed by disgruntled troops in the vineyard at Tokaji (he was killed in his home turf a few hundred miles away, in Serbia). Others claim the region’s wines got their start about one thousand years after Probus. Whatever the truth may be concerning its origins, the stories tell us Tokaji is not new to wine, and on the basis of a press release I recently received, it appears FurmintUSA has been active and successful.
Furmint made an appearance in August 2016 at the wine industry-supported educational (and networking) TEXSOM Conference in Las Colinas, Texas. As part of the educational program, the conference presented Wines of the East (from Central to Eastern Europe and beyond). But it was at a hospitality suite where Furmint was poured and where it was an apparent hit.
After Texas, the Hungarian wine producers were off to Washington, D.C. to sell wine, and then to Chicago where the Consulate General of Hungary hosted a trade tasting, all of which produced wine orders, as well as media attention.
Alas, imports of Furmint in the U.S. number in the hundreds of cases. But the more these wines are tasted, the more the numbers should rise, especially when you consider a solid dry Furmint can be had at retail from between $15 and $20 a bottle.
Dry Furmint’s signature aroma is lemon zest; from there, the theme carries through to a snappy, crisp white wine that brings to mind the phrase: quick, give me some rich, fatty cheese to eat.
Published on: 12/21/2016
By: Thomas Pellechia