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Tokaj Hetszolo Dry Furmint 2012
In 2009, Tokaj Hétszölö was purchased by Michel Reybier, the owner of Château d’Estournel, returning Tokaj Hétszölö to its celebrated 500 year historical glory. Through organic farming and traditional vinification, the wines of Tokay Hétszölö are a benchmark for Hungarian wines and exemplify the esteemed history of the estate and the pedigree of the region.
Best known for lusciously sweet dessert wines but also home to distinctive dry whites and reds, Hungary is an exciting country at the crossroads of tradition and innovation. Mostly flat with a continental climate, Hungary is almost perfectly bisected by the Danube River (known here as the Duna), and contains central Europe’s largest lake, Balaton. Soil types vary throughout the country but some of the best vines, particularly in Tokaj, are planted on mineral-rich, volcanic soil.
Tokaj, Hungary’s most famous wine region, is home to the venerated botrytized sweet wine, Tokaji, produced from a blend of Furmint and Hárslevelű. Dry and semi-dry wines are also made in Tokaj, using the same varieties. Other native white varieties include the relatively aromatic and floral, Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Királyleányka, as well as the distinctively smoky and savory, Juhfark. Common red varieties include velvety, Pinot Noir-like Kadarka and juicy, easy-drinking Kékfrankos (known elsewhere as Blaufränkisch).
The fragrant, savory and spicy, Furmint, is the white grape variety principally responsible for the highly desired, historically important and lusciously sweet, elixir called Tokaji. The wine called Tokaji is named after the Hungarian region from which it comes: Tokaj.
Furmint is most widely grown in Hungary and is especially subject to noble rot, aka botrytis, a desirable fungus that can grow on grapes in humid environments after extended hang times. (The same fungus produces Sauternes and some of the finer dessert Riesling of Germany). Aside from the grapes’ own interesting innate flavors and aromas, the botrytis infected grapes give ephemeral flavors reminiscent of ginger, saffron and honey.
To make Tokaji, Furmint is usually blended with the more aromatic grape variety called Hárslevelű and Muscat blanc à Petits Grains (locally called Sárga Muskotály). The result is an incredibly sweet, meditative, delicious Tokaji Aszú or the even sweeter Tokaji Eszencia. The latter contains so much sugar that it is served in half ounce portions and has an aging capacity of 200 years!
More recently the motivations of proud, young Hungarian winemakers have brought Furmint into a new light as a delicately crisp, savory and spicy dry white.