by Elizabeth Gabay MW
The Hungarian variety Furmint is probably best known as being the one of the major varieties in the lusciously sweet wines of Tokaj, along with the more floral Harslevelu and the aromatic Golden Muscat. The variety provides the hallmark acidity and lean minerality which gives balance to the great botritised wines.
More recently, dry Furmint has been produced, to balance sales and vagaries of climate. At first these wines were viewed with horror, the variety being regarded as too neutral and acid for anything other than sweet wines. Early Tokaj champions Istvan Szepsy and Zoltan Demeter showed that the variety had potential; not just that it could make a dry wine, but that the variety could be regarded as an international classic alongside Riesling and Chenin Blanc. The wide range of dry Furmint styles is showing just what this variety is capable of achieving.
Hungary’s furmint seems to be having a bit of a moment. You may not have heard of it yet (and yes, it does sound like a toy for cats), but furmint is a grape variety you’ve quite possibly enjoyed before, without knowing.