Caroline Gilby British Master of Wine has a deep knowledge of wines of Carpathian basin. She has been travelling all our wine regions and we are grateful to her for being an ambassador of Hungarian wines. Her enthusiasm was ackowledged last year when she was awarded „The best friend of winemakers”. The title is especially precious, because it is given by 50 top winemakers of Hungary. In a recent article on Decanter.com she recommends 18 dry Furmint wines from Hungary and neighbouring countries.
The Eastern Bro’ of Chardonnay and Riesling
„Incredibly versatile, it has some similarities to Riesling – able to go from bone dry, crisp and vibrant all the way to intensely sweet, though always with its hallmark steely acidity. At the same time, it has a touch of Chardonnay’s nature about it: capable of fine sparkling wines and able to respond well to oak and malolactic fermentation to give layered, complex, almost Burgundian style wines. This all makes sense, as genetic analysis shows it’s a half-sibling of both Chardonnay and Riesling”– writes Gilby listing the merits of Furmint variety.
First mentioned in 1280 – old enough?
The expert gave 97 scores– it is the top score in the article – to István Szepsy’s Szent Tamás, no wonder, the ’doyen’ of Tokaj has been making extraordinary wines for decades. Apart from Szepsy’s wines, Caroline gave 90 or more scores to several wines, for example the organic Barta Winery’s Öreg Király Furmint 2015. „The “Old King” or Öreg Király vineyard is the highest in Tokaj, meticulously restored by Barta. The steep slopes produce fantastically intense but elegant wines. This is a very fine example with notes of peaches and cream and superb length.”Öreg Király Vineyard is indeed very old, it was first mentioned in a document as part of the royal estates in 1280!
The golden pleasure of ’Quince’ vineyard
Another high score Furmint from Tokaj is made by Sauska Tokaj, and the grapes for the wine came from a vineyard called Birsalmás (’A vineyard with quinces’). „A limpid golden wine with inviting aromas of lemon, white peach and pear. To taste, it has good fruit and silky texture with creamy hints and notes of peach and quince (the vineyard name actually means quince in Hungarian) overlaid by camomile and meadow flowers. Lingering finish.”
Sparks will fly
The highest scored non–Tokaj Furmint (including Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania) in Gilby’s article is a bottle fermented sparkling wine from the smallest wine region of Hungary, volcanic Somló. Kreinbacher Prestige Brut with 96 scores is a „Superbly complex yet elegant traditional method sparkling wine. … a truly superb wine with fine biscuity aromas, notes of quince and red apple, appetising crispness and a fine long lasting mousse.”