WINE SCHOOL 24 - 30 November 2014

REGION: Hungary > Tokaj

Nestled in the far north eastern corner of the country, Tokaj is home to the undisputed global superstar of Hungarian wine - Tokaji Aszú. This legendary botrytized sweet wine suffered a major decline as a result of the political and economic hardships endured by the country in the 20th century. However the last few decades have seen a dazzling resurgence in the quality of these wines and the esteem in which they are held.

Botrytized Furmint grapes give weight and acidity to these wines. Additional fragrance is injected using native Hárslevelű and, occasionally, Muscat grapes.

Key white grapes: Furmint, Hárslevelű


GRAPE: Furmint

Furmint plays a key role in one of the wine world's great sweet wines: Hungary's Tokaji Aszú. Aszú means 'botrytized', i.e. grapes that have been affected by the Botrytis cinerea fungus ('noble rot') which, under the right conditions, grows favourably on berries destined for sweet wine production, concentrating sugars and flavours.

A number of qualities make Furmint such a successful grape in this context. The grapes are particularly susceptible to noble rot but they are also very high in both sugars and acidity, enabling these wines to age and gain complexity over many decades. Labels on bottles of Tokaji Aszú indicate the levels of sugar present using a scale from 3 (sweet) to 6 (really, really sweet) Puttonyos.

Furmint is also increasingly being used to make dry table wines characterised by refreshing acidity and clean apple or lime flavours. Dry Furmint wines of notable quality are now being produced in Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

Synonyms: Moslavac (Croatia), Mosler (Austria), Sipon (Slovenia)

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