By approaching February, there are more and more talks about Furmint wines, but telling the truth, most of us still do not know everything about this grape variety. However, it is a unique treasure, which well deserves its place on the international wine scene as well as in top gastronomy, therefore, it is really worth getting a bit familiar with it.
Origin of the variety is unknown, but it has been cultivated for so long here in Hungary that it could even be considered our own one. It is relatively rare outside of Hungary, only a few winemakers are offering Furmint in their assortment in the neighbouring countries, however, there is a slightly increasing interest from the overseas countries as well about the cultivation recently. Being the base of the Aszú wine, it is the main variety of our most important wine region, Tokaj. It plays a key role in Somló wine region as well, but other areas such as that of Northern Balaton, Eger, Mátra are also at growing importance in terms of cultivation, indeed, and parcels are planted even in Pécs (Southern Hungary), and in the Great Plain as well.
The very first single-vineyard dry Furmint wine known all over Hungary was made at Királyudvar Winery by István Szepsy and Zoltán Demeter. This legendary Úrágya Furmint from 2000 acted as an accelerator. By getting into focus the dry Furmint wines in addition to the Aszú wines in the region, a more serious and concentrated work has been started by the winemakers on mapping the different characteristics of the vineyards in the wine region.
This was inevitable, as the consumption of the sweet wines has been dropped worldwide by that time. As long as big dry Furmint wines could be produced in every vintage, Aszú wines are more vulnerable to the weather conditions. Indeed, in recent years, there were also a few vintages that conditions were not good at all for making Aszú wines. Therefore, it is fairly logical that more and more wineries are trying to make superior dry Furmint wines as well. Discovering and creating this wine category enabled for many quality oriented small family wineries to survive in the last years, and a real fun club of the wine region has also been established.
International experts say that Furmint has every note that is characteristic to the best varieties: it is fruity enough but still gives big and serious wines with unique acid structure serving the long maturation.Mátyás Szik, photo: Viktória Győrfy
It is also expected from a superior category wine to reflect the special characteristics of the terroir, which criteria are perfectly fulfilled by Furmint. So, everything is set in this variety to be a real rival of even the greatest Burgundian Chardonnay and German Riesling wines.
Furmint gives freedom to the winemaker in winemaking process; it is up to the maker whether the bottles will be filled up with a sparkling wine, a light dry wine, or a full-bodied matured wine or late harvest sweet Szamorodni or Aszú wines. Accordingly, it offers plenty of options in food and wine pairing.
Experts usually agree on the concept that not exclusively the main ingredients are considered to be the most important factor by ideal pairing of a food with a Furmint wine. Applied seasoning and a carefully selected garnish or sauce are the ones that create the harmony with this variety. A fresh, fruity, dry, semi-dry, or even semi-sweet Furmint can be excellently paired with roast meat dishes, especially if the seasoning highlights the harmony.
After some maturation period, completely different aromas can be tasted in our glasses. “Furmint is a variety, which wine is significantly changing even after some years of maturation in bottles. I usually like to pair matured Furmint with wildfowl dishes or even steak” – says Mátyás Szik, Hungarian Champion Sommelier for life, responsible for the drink assortment of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace.
Classical pairing with late harvest wines, such as Szamorodni and Aszú wines are desserts, foie gras and blue cheese, however, a beetroot-chocolate pairing is quite unusual in this sense yet, isn’t it? There are other odd tips from Gábor Horváth, chef of the Gusteau Kulináris Élményműhely (Gusteau Culinary Experience Workshop), Mád, the Gault&Millau restaurant of Hungary in 2016. ”Late harvest wines, such as Szamorodni or Aszú wines are really worth tasting with strong flavoured dishes, such as Thai or Indian curry though, because this strong seasoning can highlight exciting flavours of the wine, too. It is like opening a door to a new world.”
Aim of the Furmint February event series is to call attention to this variety, and to bring it to the wider public. In February, the whole month is about Furmint in Hungary; programmes and special offers are all connected to Furmint wines. Participating restaurants are going to keep some Furmint bottles by the glass, wine shops will offer Furmint wines at special price to taste and buy, indeed, special dinners and tasting events will highlight Furmint and have it in their focus.
It is going to be the 8th occasion on 2nd of February, 2017, (Thursday) that Furmint February great wine tasting event is organised at Vajdahunyadvár, Budapest, with participation of almost 100 wineries offering their best Furmint wines. Most of them are invited from Tokaj wine region, but there will be some from Somló, Eger, Northern Balaton, and even from neighbouring countries as well.
As an overture of the programme series, International Furmint Day event has its debut this year, too, where, similarly to the Malbec World Day or Chardonnay Day, a whole day is dedicated to a single grape variety. From 2017, 1st of February has been appointed as the Furmint Day, which makes this variety even more popular not only in Hungary but all over the world. All facts and interesting press articles, events, pictures connected to Furmint, as well as wineries having Furmint in their assortment are continuously published up to date and can be found on the official homepage www.furmintday.com, as well as on Facebook both in English and Hungarian.Dániel Kézdy
Dániel Kézdy, host of the programme series, encourages everybody to taste some Furmint on 1st of February or any time during the month, and to share the experience using hashtag #furmintday in order that this variety can find its own place among the big varieties of the world.
The Facebook page of Furmint Day (English and Hungarian):
Photo: Furmint Photo
Source: Wineglass Communication