It might even be the next big thing in the wine world as both dry and sweet Furmint can hold their own against the best in the world. Furthermore some say it excels at matching fine cuisine.
2017 is the first year when we celebrate the International Furmint Day on 1st February.
A brief history of Furmint
The origin of Furmint is still unclear but considering that it was mentioned as early as 1611 in Tokaj, Hungary, and has been grown here for centuries to produce wine, it seems well justified to call it a Hungarian grape variety.
There are lots of legends in circulation about how and when it was first planted in Tokaj. However, genetic analysis is a more reliable source and has shown that there are at least four different clones cultivated in Tokaj: „white”, „loose-bunch”, „red” and „variable”.
This genetic diversity strongly supports the claim that the origins of Furmint are to be found in Tokaj.
Before the phylloxera epidemic disease distroyed many vineyards, Furmint was extensively planted all over Hungary. But the devastation pushed it back to Tokaj and Somló.
The past 20 years have brought about a nationwide revival.
Today there are significant plantations in several Hungarian wine regions including Eger, Mátra, Lake Balaton, Pécs and Alföld. Furmint is also planted in neighbouring countries like Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Romania. Some overseas countries have also started experimenting with the variety.
What’s the Furmint Grape Variety like?
A late-ripening, vigorous variety with mid-sized bunches and yellow-green, spotted, thick-skinned berries, Furmint is a variety with lively acidity and a good capacity to reach high levels of sugar.
It is also susceptible to shrivel and dehydrate (thus producing „aszú berries”). Furmint thrives on volcanic, chalky soils and the mineral character of the terroir is reflected in the wines. A variety with neutral aromas Furmint is a great transmitter of terroir. In expert hands it can produce a poignant expression of the style and philosophy of the winemaker.
Furmint lends itself to a wide range of wine making styles starting from racy sparkling wines, light dry wines and more substantial terroir wines to late harvests, szamorodnis and the famous aszú.
One of the distinctive features of Furmint is the quantity and quality of its acidity that makes the wines elegant with great aging potential. Sweet wines made of Furmint – aszús in particular – are among the longest-lived wines in the world.
Furmints are often characterized by notes of apples, pears, quince, flowers, peaches, citrus, honey, herbs and sweet spices complemented by a distinctive saline, mineral streak. Barrel aged examples show classic aromas of vanilla, smoke and tobacco in addition.
Furmint as wine style
Furmint is the cornerstone of Hungary’s most renowned wine: Tokaji Aszú.
A combination of the effects of the fungus Botrytis cinerea on ripe berries and the unique microclimate of Tokaj led to the birth of sweet Tokaj wines: szamorodni and aszú.
Furmint was long considered as a variety for producing sweet wines. This view remained unchallenged until around 2000. It was in this year that the first premium quality single vineyard dry Furmint was produced. The shift was partly motivated by international trends. The consumption of natural sweet wines was on the decline all over the world. Moreover dry Furmint can be produced every year while szamorodni and aszú require special weather patterns.
Since then the two styles have complemented and strengthened each other. Furmint is no longer a wine for special occasions but also for everyday consumption. Top notch dry Furmints are highly popular in restaurants and they can also rival white Burgundies and German Rieslings in vying for the hearts of wine aficionados.
Furmint and gastronomy
With its wide range of styles Furmint offers a lot of options for matching wine with food.
Furmint made in a youthful, fruity style goes well with fish and dishes with herbs and vegetables, while more mature styles with a few years of bottle age can hold their own with game birds or even steaks.
The choice is not dictated by the basic ingredients – you can find suitable match for almost any kind of food – it is much more a matter of the spicing and the gravy served with the dish.
The classic wine & food pairings for sweet aszús are foie gras, blue cheese and desserts. It is great with Asian dishes too. Thanks to its complexity and concentration aszú can also function as a dessert on its own.
It’s been eight years now that Dániel Kézdy launched Furmint Február in Hungary. For an entire month a host of events are dedicated to showcase the variety.
2017 is the first year when we celebrate Furmint Day on 1st February with an aim to turn the spotlight on Furmint not just in Hungary but around the world.
Besides the website in English www.furmintday.com there is a page dedicated to Furmint on Facebook providing up-to-date information about all things connected with Furmint including news, stories, events, photos, and list of wineries.
Dániel Kézdy encourages you to taste Furmint on 1st February or any other day of the month and to share your experience with others using the #furmintday hashtag.
This guest post was written by Mia Kodela of wineglass-communication.hu exclusively for Social Vignerons.