Description 1 of 2
Name of varietal: Furmint
Common synonyms: Most common are Sipon, Mosler, Moslavac Bijeli and Zapfner with dozens more derivations of those spellings.
Parentage of the grape: indigenous to either Hungary or Italy
History of the grape: Exact details of Furmint’s origins are a bit murky. It is known that Hungarian King Bela IV ordered the planting of Furmint after most of the country’s vineyards were devastated by the Mongolian invasion in the 13th century. Whether the grape originated there before or was brought over from northern Italy during this mass replanting is unclear. The name of the grape derives from the word “froment,” part of the Latin “fromentum,” meaning “wheat,” (referring to its golden-tan color). What we know for sure is this is the primary blending grape of the spectacular Hungarian dessert wine, Tokaji (along with a small percentage of Harslevelue and sometimes Muscat). Its thin skins make it highly susceptible to Botrytis cinerea, the “noble rot” that covers late harvest grapes and draws out their concentrated sugars and complexity for dessert wine. Tokaji is prized for its longevity, with some wines known to last centuries. The wines are labeled in terms of “puttonyos” with degrees of sweetness and intensity from four to six. Furmint is also vinified in dry varietal and blended releases.
Characteristics of the grape: natural acidity that adds structure to both dry and dessert wines. As a dry wine, flavors are pear, fresh apricot, peach, smoke. As a dessert wine, dried apricots, honey, orange rind, blood orange, burnt sugar. With age flavors of cinammon, tobacco, tea and chocolate emerge.
Regions where the grape is currently important: Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Georgia.
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry white, late harvest dessert (Tokaji)
Description 2 of 2
Furmint is the grape responsible for Hungary's legendary dessert wines from the Tokaji region. The grape itself is rarely seen outside of Hungary, although it use as a varietally labeled wine is permitted by the United States' regulating body known as the B.A.T.F. In its native Hungary it is used to produce dry white wine, and the aforementioned dessert wines. Dry wines made from the grape can be of good quality, possessing excellent acidity and often possessing wan oxidized quality similar to the dessert wines that have made the Tokaji region justly famous. The grapes of the vine have thin skin, making them particularly susceptible to 'Botrytis', the noble rot also responsible for Sauternes. The most famous of these wines are known as Tokaji Aszu Essencia. Essencia is the result of converting only the exceptionally sweet unpressed free run juice that has collected at the bottom of container after a week, into wine. The result is some, if not the longest lived wines ever produced.
For quite a while you were an exiled King,
deposed from your throne during a dark period
of Communist rule. In a dark cellar you hid,
developing even greater regal character. Now
back on your throne in Tokaji, you once again
rule over Eastern Europe. Your reign seems
timeless, the only indication of your age is
your shrivelled skin. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)
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