„OMG!” „Damn delicious!” – yes, it is Furmint from Hungary

These enthusiastic wine descriptions have been written by a professional wine writer on a prestigious website: by Tamlyn Currin on Jancisrobinson.com. Currin participated in the recently organized Wines of Hungary UK Furmint tasting, and seemingly she has done her duties! 70 Furmint wines tasted and described in details, some of them were even retasted in different circumstances.

A gypsy king

The article – In a ferment about Furmint– was posted on 21 February, and available only for subscribers of JancisRobinson.com, but here we quote some wine descriptions and we try to attempt to mirror Tamlyn’s enthusiasm about Furmint. In her intruduction she writes an ode to Furmint, a paragraph that has surely earned her „the biggest fan of Furmint” title: „We could validate it by comparing it with Riesling, its ability to span the gamut of bone dry to lusciously sweet while holding on to its razor-sharp acidity; or with Chenin, as full of flavour and structure at 11.5% as it is at 15.5%; or with Chardonnay, turning out stainless-steel-fermented, youthful crispness as easily as oak-fermented, barrel-aged richness. It’s all those things. But it’s none of those grapes. Furmint is unique, distinctive, with a flavour profile quite unlike any other grape variety I have ever tasted. It has distracting, playful beauty;a wild, gypsy-like character; and the formidable bone structure and posture of an aristocrat.”

Glorious wines

The highest scores were given to some renowned Tokaji Aszú wines like the one by Tokaj superstar István Szepsy, but she gave high points for dry Furmint wines as well, the above quoted OMG was for example a first-impression-driven exclamation upon tasting Barta Öreg Király Furmint 2015.„ I actually wrote ‘OMG’, which doesn’t make for an eloquent tasting note. But that was my first reaction and I stand by it. Wildflowers, honey, shimmering like a long gold dress on a tall slender creature. If you could mix firelight and candlelight and stars on a cold night and press it into liquid, this would be what it tastes like. Such layered complexity of flavour – apricots, dried pears, saffron, pimento, cherries and marzipan – and then this crystalline, precise structure. Goosebumps and glory. I swallowed.”And she allocated 17.5 scores to the heavenly dry Furmint. As one scrolls down, he will see some big names with mediocre points, and some new discoveries highly praised. Here we go with three examples.

The best non-Tokaj dry Furmint

One of the highest scores (17.5) of dry wines was given to Kovács Nimród Nagy-Eged Furmint 2015, a wine from Eger wine region (though it is mistakenly marked as a Tokaj wine in the article). This Furmint was selected the best Furmint at VinAgora international wine competition, and Tamlyn Currin loved it a lot: „Rich, serious aromatics, unfurling lime marmalade, then toast. Very much in the vein of a GG Riesling with the same towering structure, ineffable elegance, fruit and acidity precision engineered, taut and aloof.A steely, long gaze. But there is a weight here that Riesling seldom has, a rich ballast of lime-powdered, ripe fruit that tastes both sweet and dry. Mineral intensity. Damn delicious and like a volt of energy.”

The best newcomer

Juliet Victor Winery is the youngest of all the estates in Currin’s article, and still, both wines were evaluated high (17 points). She also mentions her strong argument for Furmint: a versatile food wine, easy to pair with a wide range of dishes (in another article she paired a Furmint with a home smoked chicken and the wine played an astonishing good role in the pairing). Juliet Victor Betsek Furmint 2017 is described as follows: „A hint of cobblers glue on the nose, but it seems to heighten rather than detract from the intense ripe-apricot aroma. Salty, concentrated, like fruit leather. Full of cumin and caraway spice. Seems more linear and focused in one direction than the Király. Fantastic food wine. Buzzing with character.”

„This is good” – here is Somló!

The tiny volcanic mountain not far from lake Balaton is the next big thing according to many local and international wine writers, and if you taste any of the distinctive wines of Somló, you will agree. Zsirai Winery has its centre in Mád (Tokaj), and Zsirai sisters Tokaj Középhegy Furmint was also praised, but also their other Furmint from Somló wine region! (Though it was also mistakenly marked as a wine from Tokaj.) Minty on the nose, and then super-fresh and invigorating– like sweetened mint tea and lime and sugar-spun tea leaves. This is good. Cool and long and fine” – wrote Currin along with 16.50 points.

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