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The Furmint Grape


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About Furmint

(Synonyms: Bijeli, Edler Weisser, Gelber Furmint, Mislovai, Mosler, Moslovac, Posip, Sauvignon vert, Sipon, Tokay, Tokayu, Tokayer, Zapfner.)

Background

Map showing the Tokaj-Hegyalja region

Furmint is a white-wine grape originating in Hungary (though perhaps brought there many centuries ago from the Piedmont region of Italy). It is not infrequently used to make a usually monovarietal dry table wine (though sometimes it is blended with Hárslevelü and Sárga Muskotály), but most consider its best and highest use to be in the famed dessert wine Tokay (often spelt Tokaji), and it is that use that makes it generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class white-wine grapes (those in boldface in the varietals list to the left of the page). Today, production remains centered in Hungary, but also extends to Slovakia and Austria and a few other locales in the same general region. Most dry Furmint today comes from the Somlo region (in northwest Hungary).

The grape is naturally a very high-acid and high-sugar one (as is normal for grapes often used for dessert wines). As a dry table wine, it has the potential to make wines of some power and complexity; notable flavor elements usually associated with Furmint wines are smoke, lime, and pear. As a dessert wine, it has those qualities plus many others: often cited are marzipan, blood orange, apricots, barley sugar,tobacco, tea, cinnamon, and even chocolate. (Per Oz Clarke.) Tokay being so eminent a wine, Furmint as a table wine had almost vanished till its revival in that use in recent years. As the world market is exposed to dry Furmint, it is reasonable to expect that the demand for it will rise significantly, considering its positive atributes. (On this site, we deal only with Furmint as a table-wine grape.)

Factoid: Furmint tends to be confused in the literature with several other grapes, notably Sauvignon Vert, Poŝip, and Grasă de Cotnari; some of the alternate names are really different grapes, but some alternate names for different grapes are also names used for Furmint. It's a mess.


Some Descriptions of Furmint Wines


Some Furmints to Try

(About this list.)

Notice that most of the selections below are expressly labelled by their makers as "dry" (or the equivalent). With Furmint, it is quite important (if you want a table wine) to be sure you're not getting a sweet version.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
Domaine Királyudvar "Sec" Furmint

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Redolent of scents of hay, lemon zest, and minerals, this dry white wine is a blend of furmint (70%) and another indigenous white grape in Tokaj called hárslevelu (30%). It's worth noting that the wine has just 12.3% alcohol. Királyudvar Tokaji Sec 2005 is like no other dry white wine you or I have ever tasted. It reminds one of white Burgundy with its rich, thick texture and exceptional finesse — yet it's nothing like chardonnay in taste. It's more individual and particular than that.

Light gold, lemon rim. Medium intense, very ripe quince and pear, acacia and floral tones. Quite a low level of sugar giving it a moderate sweetness, crisp freshness followed by honey, peach, quince and balanced by citrus of lime and grapefruit. Rich minerals on the back-palate, very good balance, medium finish. 16.5

Pale lemon yellow, slightly oxidized style, fat nose, honey, apricots. Very agreeable acidity, fresh even if it doesn't quite feel that way, citrus finish. 84

Királyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec 2007 is one of the most extraordinary dry white wines you will taste this year, I promise you. Although labeled as furmint, this wine is actually a blend of two indigenous white grapes: furmint (80 percent) and hárslevelu. Impressively dense, it proffers a striking scent of flowers and minerals with just the barest whiff of honey allied with lemon. Thick-textured, there's a crisp acidity that makes this wine oh-so-drinkable, with that same minerals and flower quality coming through in the taste. And it's just 12.5 percent alcohol. This is a magnificent dry white wine that can accompany all sorts of foods

Even before its identity was revealed to the panel, this vintage of Királyudvar's dry furmint inspired several tasters to draw comparisons to regal Loire chenins—remarkable given that the winery is owned by the same man who owns Huet. In part it's the way the prodigious peach fruit wraps around the wine's minerality, round and smooth; it's also due to the minerality—more chalk than smoky volcano (someone said it tasted like peaches mashed up with chalk), and powerful enough to carry the sweet fruit firmly into the savory realm. The acidity is electric yet doesn't intrude on the wine's smooth texture, maintaining its freshness for days after opening." 93 points

The resulting dry Furmint delighted all of us at the table. It had a rich, enticing and exotic aroma of overripe pear and perhaps a touch of camphor. Others smelled dark berries and even bubble gum. The lush texture and honeyed flavor reminded me of why Furmint and Hárslevelű work so well in Tokaji Aszú. Ample acids provided refreshing balance, and I loved the clean, minerally finish.

The Kiralyudvar is what I call "dry, but ..." There is an enormous mineral bent to it, beeswaxy texture and an old-attic muskiness, along with robust orange fruits: apricot, grilled peach, orange peel. The "but" is a background sense of sweetness, rather than sweetness per se, if you get me. After a day or even two, the wine continues to live, via baked-in savory vanilla notes. It is thick, masculine, fibrous wine, rich and long-living. Those who describe themselves as "red-wine drinkers" would, if honest with themselves, adore it.

7 points – a Hungarian star. [0-10 scale]

Minerally aromas and an unexpected roundness on the palate.

♣ Pannon Wine Challenge (2011), a Top Wine.



Hétszölö "Dry" Furmint
(Beware listings with differing or no accent marks.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages (confused multiple entries owing to the accent marks).
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Fermented in stainless steel and aged in oak, this offering from winemaker Gergely Makai is a softer expression of this high acid grape, due in large measure to the time it spent in Hungarian oak. Nice citrus, apples and a bit of vanilla on the finish.

[Google-translated from French:] Tasting notes: bright color. On the nose, aromas of ripe peaches, dried herbs, nuts and light tricks of very long apricot taste. {Note: the page label is the wrong wine—Oremus Furmint Dry—but the photo and description correctly identify the actual wine.}}

♣ #1 Furmint of VinCE Magazine ["Hungary’s leading wine magazine"] Dry Furmint panel tasting.

Apple, earthy, more vegetative, slight petrol note, bracing acidity.

Its acidity and minerality are present immediately on the palate followed by fresh white fruit, pear, apple, spice, and floral notes. The wine is extremely aromatic…

The 2011 is quiet and tight, lightly nutty in a graham cracker way. It’s the structure that’s impressive, a mouthwatering balance of saline minerality and limey fruit that wants a grilled fish to match. 90 points. [Wine & Spirits]

This wine has some grit to it — it's slightly dry and chalky. It's assertive…



Dobogó "Dry" Furmint

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
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• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

This Furmint is made in a bone-dry style, packed with opulent dried apricot and honeysuckle flavours. A rich and creamy palate supports the forward pear and marmalade characters. A great food wine. 91 points. [Decanter]

[T]his 2013 Decanter Gold Award-winning bottle is very dry, but still luscious and aromatic, with honeysuckle aromas and flavours of dried pears and apricots. Try with mildly spiced Middle Eastern or Asian foods.

Overall, it is striking how consistent Dobogó’s Furmint is showing across very different vintages: the temperate wet-autumn 2005 and the torrid dry 2007. There are minor differences between these four bottles but the style remains the same: that distinctive peachy, apricotty, fleshy silky touch of absolute fruit ripeness. Dobogó are some of the last wineries to harvest grapes for their dry wines, well into November, so that with no malolactic fermentation, the wine is always in balance and never shows the typical searing limey acidity of underripe Furmint.

Hungarian dry Furmint at its most intense and oaky made by the Zwack family from two first growth ‘organic’ vineyards, Betsek and Szent Tamas near Mad. Rich bouquet of pears and lime with a dense smoky, almost steely palate, deep oaky notes and very long length – could be better with another year in bottle. Most definitely the highest quality in the tasting, hence its price – but not the easiest wine to drink its own – it definitely needs food – try matching with it a mild green Thai curry or very rich fish dish. A "STAR BUY".

For Dobogó, partial oak fermentation is important for adding depth and texture to the dry Furmint. This tiny but charming winery has 5ha of 30-year-old vines in some of the best sites in the region, and only produced its first dry wine in 2003. Like many in the region, winemaker Attila Domokos has been learning what works with Furmint as a dry wine, and the 2006 release is Dobogó’s best yet, with real elegance and balance.

The thing that blew me away about this wine is that it was still incredibly fresh, and the color still had a youthful, bright hue about it. There is no way I’d have pegged it for a white with over a decade of bottle aging under its belt. Still alive. Still kicking. Still sporting more than its fair share of fresh citrus fruitiness. There were hints of its age, for sure: a little nuttiness here, a bit of toast there. But this lady was aging so gracefully, she was giving Helen Mirren a run for her money. A few more examples like this, and Hungarians can stop worrying about how well dry Furmint wines will hold up…

Bright gold colour. Spicy and fruity, with lovely nectarine aromas and a touch of mint. In the mouth the flavours are apricot, nectarine and dried mango all underpinned by keen acidity. Full-bodied, very fruity, long and punchy. 91 points, good value.



Patricius "Dry" Furmint

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Enticing aromas of pear and white peach set the stage for flavors of peach nectar and slightly tart white plum. This wine is full in the mouth with a bright citrus note on the finish. 90 points.

It is an intriguing, complex bottle with aromas of baked apples, honey and spices. All this deceives you into thinking the wine will be richer than it is; the palate is pure and given focus by Furmint’s bracing acidity.

♣ Silver MedalInternational Wine Challenge: "Rich honey, mint subdued, nutty aromas - powerful. Firm acidity with nice fruit/honey, floral dryish finish."

[T]his was another wine that was intensely aromatic, but light on the palate. It was a bouquet of citrus, honey, apples and spice. Butter, roasted nuts, pear and a touch of lemon zest on the finish, plus perfect acidity, made this an exceptional dry wine.

A round, fruity style, with pear, paraffin and spice flavors. The rich texture is underscored by vivid acidity. White pepper and grapefruit peel notes line the finish. [Wine Spectator, December 2015]

In a different register is the musky, slightly spicy Patricius Tokaji Dry Furmint 2015…which would be delicious with smoked and salted fish such as salmon or salt cod, or a smoked fish pie.

Lemon colour with quince and pear on the nose. Some jammy character. Bright flavours on palate with quince and zesty lemon, vibrant ripe fruit of pear and touch of spice.

This medium weight wine has a good balance of acidity and fruit, making it a versatile wine with food.



Chateau Dereszla "Dry" Furmint
(Do not confuse this with their "Dry Tokaji" blend, which is 86% Furmint.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

[T]he grapes are picked much earlier [than for sweet Tokaji] to keep it dry and fresh. It may be dry but some of the sticky characters remain in the glass with notes of dried apricots and marmalade. This has a palate-tingling acidity with honeysuckle and sweet spice characters and supported by a creamy texture. 89 points.

[Google-translated from Hungarian:] Green, precise, delicious, I recorded in my little notebook, and added a star to it…Pattern-like entry furmint, unmoved, with excellent balance. Furmint is fresh, vineyards (and yes, greenish), crystal clear, can be said in Austrian precise - the ideal basics I just imagine. It is light, very, but delicious and intense, even the discreet, rounding sweetness fits well in my taste, even though I am not a friend of sugar residue. Evaluation: Class first basic white. 10 points (= 85/100) A "Best Buy".

The Château Dereszla Tokaji Furmint 2015 is slightly sweeter than I prefer but it does have the varietal’s characteristic apple and pear aromas and white blossom, pear and herbal flavours. It’s typical of many of the Furmints now being produced in the Tokaj region. Rather than waiting for age to round off some of the grape variety’s bracing acidity, winemakers are halting the fermentation before all the sugar has turned to alcohol. In this case there is 11g/L of sugar left, making it a very pleasant, easy-drinking crowd-pleaser.

Ready to drink. Fresh fruity, notes of pear, apple and citrus, elegant. Serving grilled fish dishes, poultry, white meat, salads, on its own.

Very nice green apple note on the nose, with the acid noticeable. There's a slight medicinal note, like a band aid soaked in alcohol.The palate shows nice cutting acid, with soft voluptuous notes of spice and fruit. Quite soft. Spice into the finish, with cutting acid, but it's also a little volatile and chunky feeling. Not a very good effort. 84 points.

Chewy. Apricot, sweet apple. ***½



Chateau Pajzos Antaloczy Cellars "T" Furmint
(A blend: Furmint, 90%; Hárslevelü, 6%; Yellow Muscat, 4%. Some say 100% Furmint, but the winery's own site gives the blend data.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

It is a medium-bodied, refreshing wine with a hint of spearmint wending its way through the citrusy, green apple and apricot fruit. In the mouth the fruit is soft and juicy, and it finishes with vivid acidity. The focus on pristine fruit and crisp acidity make it a versatile wine…

[This wine] was everything a great cheap white wine should be: clean, fresh, and varietally correct. It had spice (white pepper?), apricot fruit, and even some nuttiness (almonds?). Missing was any harshness, unripe fruit, or lingering sweetness that wines from less known regions often have. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame.

It has subtle but appealing aromas of ripe orchard fruit, beeswax, with hints of honey and spice. On the palate it is wonderfully crisp and minerally. Similar flavors follow though, with more pronounced notes of stone fruit, particularly apricot. A lovely waxiness to the mouthfeel adds a nice richness and complexity. Tasty minerally finish.

This delicious dry white wine is made from Furmint, one of the main grape varieties that makes the famous sweet wine Tokaji. Highly aromatic with notes of ripe peaches and pears on the nose. The palate has rich stone fruit and tropical fruit flavours of peaches and lychee. A grapefruit acidity gives freshness to the wine which finishes long and fruity.

Bright citrus notes. White flowers. Refreshing acidity. Mineral. So fresh and so clean! 5/5

Pale lemon colour with floral, white peach, blossom character. Dry some almond and quince, leesy touch on the mid palate. Good structure, fine fruit driven style on the palate as well, full bodied with some richness.



For a Splurge

This is yet another varietal for which there are no bottlings generally rated anything much above what's on our list above.


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