Tornai Juhfark – Somló’s brand ambassador

Article by Sergey Smolin

Sergey Smolin Russian wine writer has just released his book on Hungarian wineries. It is available in Russian, in digital format, but hopefully it will be printed and translated into other languages as well. Sergey has recently conducted a tasting in a Moscow wine bar called Drinks, the Juhfark line up (see below) was a huge success. We asked him to write a few words about Tornai Juhfark – this is what Sergey means by a few words:)


By Sergey Smolin

There are a lot of people in wine industry or just amateurs who think that “smaller is better”, which means they always prefer boutique artisanal wineries to bigger ones. Somló is a land of such tiny estates, with an average size of about 0,5 hectares. Tornai pince is one of the very few exceptions: a vineyard size of about 70 ha would be considered average (or even small) by worldwide standards, but here in Somló this is really huge, as this size represents 1/7 of all vineyards of the region (484 ha in 2021).

I remember talking to a manager of a small distillery in Scotland and asking him what were his thoughts about one of the industry giants, the largest producer of single malt whisky. He answered me that without such giants they could never even exist. In the world of wine, we have a lot of such examples as well, with one or several key estates representing the backbone, the foundation of the whole region. Tornai is definitely one of such estates, Somló’s brand ambassadors.

In January 2022 I was collecting a set of Juhfark wines for a tasting. Even in Budapest it was not an easy task: I had to visit over 20 wine boutiques, some wines were available only on the Internet. That’s no surprise as some of these wines were made in tiny quantities like 200 – 300 bottles. The vast majority of wine amateurs do not even know such names exist. Tornai, however, was easy to find, and there was even a choice of several Juhfarks. I should say that Tornai has the widest selection of wines made from this rare and precious local grape, a true hungaricum that, without any doubt, should be saved and promoted.

Moscow Drinks wine bar tasting Juhfark
The "line up" of Juhfark wines at the tasting in Moscow conducted by Sergey Smolin

Finally, I chose Tornai Prémium Juhfark 2019: not the basic range, but not a member of Top Selection. Personally, I think that this wine is a reference: the terroir, as well as the varietal characteristics are not hidden by too much oak or “natural”/ low intervention practices so popular in this region. The wine is clean yet complex, easy to drink, but at the same time perfectly structured. You can find the aromas of citrus and green apple peel, very ripe white peach, pronounced minerality (flint, match box, chalk, hint of saltiness), wool, almonds. The acidity is high yet very balanced and pleasant. This wine will definitely evolve over the next few years.

As at 2021, the size of Somló vineyard, as well as Juhfark acreage, unfortunately, continues to shrink. I really hope this trend goes reverse as soon as possible, and it’s totally up to Tornai pince to help reviving Somló’s history and image.

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More about Tornai Winery

Somló study tour Tornai 2021
Hungarianwines study tour team tasting Juhfark 2011. Tamás Tornai, the owner is on the right in blue shirt. Photo: Gábor Erdős

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