The four faces of Furmint – another brilliant article by Tamlyn Currin
Tamlyn Currin wine writer – JancisRobinson.com – knows a lot about our Furmint grape, she visited Hungary several times and certainly she participated in the latest edition of Furmint February grand tasting in London. Her recent article reveals her interesting insights about Furmint styles partially determined by their exposure. The article contains reviews of 61 wines Furmint from Hungary.
Furmint February is an annual event in London organized by Zsuzsa Toronyi (Wines of Hungary UK).
The anthem of Furmint
“Furmint wines also age beautifully, whether dry or sweet, and the dry wines can be balanced and delicious at a range of alcohol levels, from 11% to 14.5%. Like Chenin, Furmint responds to winemaking like tango dancers respond to their partners. You can put it in steel, clay, old oakor new oak; you can allow malo, partial malo or block malo; you can age it on lees (with or without stirring) or rack it off as clean as possible; you can make bottle-fermented or tank-method sparkling wines; you can play with skin contact, make an orange wine, or blend it with other varieties. It’s as malleable as marzipan, but no matter what the winemaking is, it never loses its identity as Furmint or the identity of the ground from which it came. Add to that, of course, the fact that it is a brilliant wine for food – there’s a style for pretty much any dish you want to pair it with. Test me!” – it could righteously be the anthem of Furmint, so true, so sensational, it gives goosebumps. Thanks again, Tamlyn.
Also the typicity of Furmint wines is interesting according to the four quarters, I don’t think I have ever read anything similar:
– North: “Thunder” with “its towering, uncompromising minerality”. She also compares it to “Mordor”, I love it!
– South: “Holy Water”, as Tamlyn reveals: “This is the Furmint that I fell in love with; my gateway Furmint.”
– West: “Elysium” with “the wet-soil smell of winter on its breath, misty-morning mushrooms tucked under lazy, long-sprawled-out acidity”.
– East: “Little Fluffy Clouds” – “…thirst quenching. It’s crisp. It’s sharp.”
3 top score dry Furmint wines from the article
(I admit it is not wine writing to copy Tamlyn’s wine reviews, but I just have to, they are so good!)
Barta, Öreg Király Dűlő Mád Furmint 2020 Tokaj 17.5+ points
Certified organic. Aged for six months on lees in French oak.
Very, very fine acidity. This is really high-wire stuff. But a sweep of creaminess in the mouth and wonderful amassing of florals and floral bitterness over quince and crystal-spliced apricots. Lace and lines. Much more mineral than the Egy Kis Furmint (Barta’s other tasted Furmint); fine-boned but staggeringly intense and pure. Having tasted this cuvée at more evolved stages, I’d advocate for holding onto this wine for another two years at least before opening. Longer, if you can. 12.5%
Holdvölgy, Intuition No3 Furmint 2018 Tokaj 17.5 points
The name Hold-Völgy means moon valley (originally it was called ‘dead valley!). It’s a vineyard shared between two communes, Mád and Rátka. The 40.1-ha vineyard faces several directions – south, south-west and west – and runs from 190 to 270 m asl. It’s composed of andesite, rhyolite tufa (a red loam), clay, quartzite and diatomaceous earth. This wine is from parcel 13, a tiny parcel on visibly red clay and planted with a single clone (not an authorised clone). Whole-bunch pressing, fermented in stainless steel, RS 7.2 g/l.
Quince blossom. Honeysuckle and molle pink peppercorn and mace. Super-delicate spiciness through the velvet-and-burr texture. Ginger root. Almost hoppy yeast and with a gentle sweetness and bitterness feathered into the sinews of the wine. Outstanding complexity and layers of power and delicacy. 13.5%
Zsirai Betsek Furmint 2021 Tokaj 17.5 + points
100% Furmint. An estate run by two sisters who took over, barely in their twenties, when their father died. Destemmed, macerated for two hours, gentle press, fermented and aged in old barrels.
Wow! That nose! Jasmine and tumbling with trumpet flowers. Lemon flowers. This is the best one so far. The acidity lies deep within the fruit. Russet apples, baked quince, honeysuckle, bergamot and dazzling opalescence. The acidity is orchestral, finely pixelated, spine-tinglingly complex. Zsirai wines always do this. 13%