Life-changing Tokaji Furmint

By Published On: February 1, 2023

My introduction to Tokaji Furmint was in 2020 – the 2018 Wetzer Tokaji Furmint – a dry white with some botrytis influence made in a minimalist style (native yeast, unfiltered, unfined). I wrote about tasting it – and won one of the categories in the 2022 Hungarian Wines Web Wine Writing Competition. As a result of that win, I visited Hungary for the first time in August 2022 – a life-changing experience that further piqued my interest in Tokaji Furmint. 

2017 Béres Tokaj Lőcse Furmint Száraz

Béres Szőlőbirtok
The first winery I visited was Béres in Erdőbénye. In 2002, Dr. József Béres and his wife Klára purchased 90 hectares of land and founded Béres Estate. Today, under the leadership of executive director Melinda Regéczy-Béres, managing and commercial director Dávid Regéczy, winemaker and estate director János Jarecsni, and viticulturist Attila Götz, Berés makes an impressive portfolio of dry, sweet, and sparkling wines from their 45 hectares of vineyards. In the beginning, only 10 hectares were planted – the historic Lőcse vineyard. From that parcel they made their first wine in 2003, which they continue making today.
The 2017 Béres Tokaj Lőcse Furmint Száraz (Dry) is replete with flavors like spiced Golden Delicious apple, Asian pear, and lively citrus – plus a smidge of ginger and vanilla. It is fermented and aged sur lie in oak barrels (also from Erdőbénye), which impart nutty, toasty notes and a plush texture. This wine’s trifecta of acidity, salinity, and richness calls for dishes like poached salmon and roasted duck.

The lineup of wines tasted at Préselő Pincészet


Préselő Pincészet és Vendégház
The second stop in Erdőbénye was Préselő for a tasting, dinner, and overnight stay in their guest house. Owners Zsolt Nagy (international consultant), his wife Gabi (enologist) and Árpád Zöldi-Kovács (viticulturist) released their first vintage in 2013 from 8 hectares of vineyards scattered across Erdőbénye. Préselő only makes around 9,000 bottles of wine, including dry, sweet, and sparkling.
The 2019 Préselő Apukám Bora Furmint Száraz is fresh and fruity – with flavors like juicy peach, pear, and citrus – plus a pinch of savory spice. Fermentation and short-term aging in a combination of 60% stainless steel and 40% barrel allows the wine to retain its youthfulness and show off the region’s characteristic minerality and salinity. It was a lively accompaniment to the meaty Hungarian stew in a bread bowl served for dinner that evening.

Tokaj Masterclass at Compline Wine Shop Napa with Eric Danch

In January 2023, I continued my exploration of Tokaji Furmint with a Tokaj Masterclass at Compline Wine Shop in Napa, California, with importer Eric Danch of Danch & Granger Selections, whose portfolio focuses on small-production Central and Eastern European wines.

Bodrog Borműhely
Hajdú János & Farkas Krisztián, both enologists, founded Bodrog Borműhely in 2007. Their winery is located in the village of Bodrogkisfalud just north of the town of Tokaj along the banks of the Bodrog River. From their 5.7 hectares of four iconic vineyards – Deák, Dereszla, Lapis, and Halas – they make dry wines in a low-intervention style – hand picking and sorting the grapes, native yeast fermentation, sur lie aging in seasoned oak barrels, 100% malolactic fermentation, and light filtering.
The fruit for the 2019 Bodrog Borműhely Furmint Lapis comes from the one-hectare namesake vineyard – which experiences some botrytis due to its proximity to the Bodrog River – but breezes keep it minimal. The wine is full-bodied, yet also juicy thanks to its vibrant acidity. It reveals a mélange of flavors like white plum and peach alongside biscotti, a hint of honey, and a dash of salt. An adventurous pairing like pork belly or duck carnitas would be delicious.

The partial lineup of wines tasted at the Tokaj Masterclass at Compline Wine Shop Napa

Tokaj Nobilis
Tokaj native and winemaker Sarolta Bárdos and her husband Dr. Péter Molná – both third-generation viticulturists – founded Tokaj Nobilis in 2000, also in Bodrogkisfalud. In 2005, they turned a 19th-century house into their winery. They farm 7 hectares of organic vineyards – Barakonyi (originally classified in 1737) and Csirke-mál – where they grow mostly Furmint and other varieties like Hárslevelű, Kövérszőlő, and Sarga Muskotály. Bárdos’ winemaking is also minimalist, and the wines barrel- and bottle-aged in their adjacent cellar. She makes a variety of dry, sweet, and sparkling wines.
The 2017 Tokaj Nobilis Tokaji Pezsgő is made in the traditional method (like Champagne) – with primary fermentation in stainless steel and secondary fermentation in the bottle. It is “barely Brut” with around 11 grams of residual sugar. Crisp apple and zesty citrus flavors meld with a whiff of freshly baked biscuit and subtle salinity in this delicately creamy sparkler. Try this with smoked salmon, oysters, and triple-cream cheeses.

Photo Credits – Elizabeth Smith
Republished with permission. Originally published at Elizabeth Smith.

 

About the Author: Elizabeth Smith

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Dr. Elizabeth Smith is a former college professor and wine club manager turned award-winning writer, copywriter, and wine and writing competition judge. Elizabeth is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International Sacramento and Sonoma Chapters, the Circle of Wine Writers and the Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association. Connect with Elizabeth at easmith.net/contact.