Furmint is Hungary’s answer to other less mainstream white wines gaining prominence lately, like Austria’s grüner veltliner. Most widely grown in the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region, this white grape variety's name is derived from the word froment (wheat-gold color). Although traditionally used in dessert wines, furmint is figuring more prominently in a growing array of single-varietal dries.
A great standard bearer of this trend is Patricius Winery, run by Dezso Kékessy and daughter Katinka Kékessy-Wimpffen. Situated at the epicenter of Hungary's Tokaj, the world's oldest wine appellation, Patricius (Latin for ‘nobleman’) indicates the Kékessy family’s origins as well-known vineyard owners in the Tokaj and Mátra foothills dating back to the eighteenth century.
Patricius began purchasing first growth-classified vineyards in 1997, and the estate now totals 346 acres. Their wine press house, built over 200 years ago and then owned and operated by Jesuit monks and aristocratic families, was renovated into a state-of-the-art underground winery in 2005 utilizing gravitational technology yet preserving the original architectural details. It is here that winemakers showcase the local furmint grape's vibrant minerality and well-balanced acidity in their lineup, particularly in their 2015 Dry Furmint.
Harvesting begins in September, with fermentation and maturation taking place entirely in stainless steel, allowing the grapes to showcase a dark, refreshing mouthfeel similar to cold cask-conditioned ale complemented with a refreshing bite ranging from fresh apple to spring greens. Possessing well-balanced fruit with honeyed spice on the nose, the wine’s brisk, even minerality sets the stage for a cleansed palate and enables it to pair nicely with chicken, seafood, and sushi.
Now is the perfect time to skip your go-to chardonnay or reisling and amuse your guests with the more interesting furmint at the inevitable holiday gatherings you have on the horizon.
Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting.