You might already be familiar with this important Hungarian grape as the varietal found in luscious, sweet Tokaji dessert wine. However, it also makes beautiful, dry, acidic wines. If you want to try this fresh and smoky wine, the first day of February offers the perfect excuse.
Where is it grown?
Furmint is cultivated in Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Austria, South Africa, and in California where it is grown in small parcels in the Russian River AVA. It sometimes goes by different names in regions outside Hungary, but it is the same green apple tones, acidic white grape.
In Hungary, Furmint reigns in the Tokaj region in the northwest of the country where this varietal makes up about 60% of plantings.
The legend goes that in the middle of the 1500s, on the eve of the grape harvest, the villagers in Tokaj located at the foot of the Zémplen Mountains, fled as the mighty invading Ottoman army approached. A priest stayed behind, hiding in wine cellars underneath the vineyards until the pillaging soldiers had departed. When he emerged, he found the grapes had dried up on the vine, but he picked them anyway and made wine. The fruit had suffered from botrytis or noble rot. This combined with the volcanic soil it hailed from made wine like nectar. Tokaj was born with Furmint one of the main varietals.
With its nutty, dried citrus, stone fruit, and honey flavors, this sweet wine was highly coveted and sought after by royalty around Europe. The Sun King himself, Louis XIV of France famously called it “the wine of kings, the king of wines”. Sometimes, for extra complexity, balance, and sweetness, Tokaji is a blend of Yellow Muscat, and fellow Hungarian varietal, Hárslevelű, as well as Furmint. There are four types of sweet Tokaji: Tokaji Essencia, Late Harvest, Tokaji Szamorodni, and Aszú.
In recent years, Furmint has been making a name for itself as a mono-varietal dry wine, gaining accolades and popularity around the globe.
Furmint Flavor profile
When Furmint appears in sweet Tokaji wine, you can expect a bloom of full-bodied peach, dried apricot, quince, and honey with lacy acidity that balances the sweetness to perfection.
Young Hungarian wine producers are making up for time lost under decades of Soviet influence in an explosion of creativity and quality. Experimenting with leaner lighter styles, Furmint has come to the fore as a fine still wine.
A dry Furmint features notes of green apple, ginger, lemon, and smoke. A touch of honeysuckle can also peep through. It is bone dry, highly acidic, and light-bodied. The characteristics make it comparable to a Chablis or a dry Riesling. If it is made in stainless steel, Furmint has a touch of minerality and wet stone. If it has the oak aging treatment, it will boast a brush of spice and a creamy texture.
Furmint is just lovely and International Furmint Day is a good time to try a few different styles.
Furmint Tokaji is perfect with desserts, and the sweeter the better. Blue cheese is also a great match for sweet wines with Furmint in the blend.
With its green, spicy, delicate, acidic notes, dry Furmint pairs well with light Asian dishes or fish cooked with herbs.
Whether you go for sweet or dry or both, enjoy celebrating International Furmint Day!