Imagine a chablis with a touch more spice, body and a fiery finish. That’s what the furmint grape tastes like.

 

It’s a serious classic European variety which has been around for centuries, but furmint is only now making a name for itself with its superb, powerful dry whites.

Furmint’s main claim to fame is in its lead role in making the iconic sweet tokaji (or tokay) wines in Hungary. But now every restaurant and winemerchant worth its salt lists a dry version of furmint – and you can even find it under £10 a bottle in some supermarkets.

Most dry furmints you find in the UK come from Hungary’s north-east Tokaj region, but you can also find varietal and blended examples from Slovenia, Austria, Croatia and Slovakia.

Slovenia

Tesco Finest Sauvignon Blanc/Furmint 2013 – GOOD VALUE

A very gentle introduction to the furmint grape with the help of a little sauvignon blanc. Delicate, vibrant and refreshing, it falls a touch short on finish, but is very good for the price. This blend is created by winemaker Mitja Herga, from grapes grown in Ormoz in Slovenia’s Stajerska region.

£6, Tesco

Verus Dry Furmint 2013

This 100 per cent varietal furmint also hails from north-eastern Ormoz. Here three friends (or “authors”) Danilo Snajder, Bozidar Grabovac and Rajko Zlicar set up the impressive Verus range. They state “dry”, but its palate is full and quite sweet, so this might suit drinkers who usually enjoy Kiwi sauvignons.

£12, The Real Wine Co, www.therealwineco.co.uk

Benedict Slovenian White 2013 Dveri Pax – STAR BLEND

With furmint dominant, this blend offers another interesting intro to the grape – alongside pinot gris and riesling. Very floral (riesling), with a musky note (pinot) and furmint’s herby spiciness, it has vibrant acidity and length. It’s made by Dveri Pax at Admont Abbey just over the Austrian border near Graz, where Benedictine monks began making wine in 1139.

£7.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com

Austria

Triebaumer Furmint 2012

A popular wine in the tasting, this has elegant, unoaked furmint with pear and papaya aromas, a lovely, creamy texture, sweet juicy fruits and hint of quince on the palate with good, natural, crisp acidity. Note the moderate 12 per cent alcohol level. Gunter and Regina Triebaumer’s family have been growing vines here since the 17th century. The Triebaumers suggest serving their furmint with crispy fried pike with savoury quince jelly.

£13.94, Alpine Wines,  www.alpinewines.co.uk

Hungary

Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint 2012-13

Wet stone, honey, vanilla and toasty spice – very dry with distinct minerally and oak notes. A well-made wine, popular with tasters who like white burgundy. The 2012 is slightly mellower with its extra bottle age, but there’s plenty of vitality and freshness in the 2013 to enjoy. Royal Tokaji is an Anglo-Hungarian venture based in the village of Mad. Their style tends to be more traditional with greater use of oak compared to others (like Disznoko).

£9.99, 2012 vintage is in  Majestic Wine Scotland;  2013 vintage at Laithwaites

Dobogo Dry Furmint 2013 – STAR BUY

Hungarian dry furmint at its most intense and oaky made by the Zwack family from two first growth “organic” vineyards, Betsek and Szent Tamas near Mad. Here you’ll find a rich bouquet of pears and lime with a dense smoky, almost steely palate, deep oaky notes and very long length – could be better with another year in bottle. Most definitely the highest quality in the tasting, hence its price – but it needs food. Try matching it with a mild green Thai curry or very rich fish dish.

£18.99, Exel Wines, Perth; Aitken Wines, Dundee; St Andrews Wine Co; Fine Wine Co, Musselburgh; www.eclectictastes.co.uk

Disznoko Dry Furmint 2014

Very different in style to Dobogo – this reminded me more of a sleek chablis. Disznoko’s style is about freshness and fruit, without the use of oak in its dry furmint. Apple, grapefruit and lime aromas, very flinty dryness, vibrant and fresh with a slightly salty finish – drink on its own or with
grilled fish. Disznoko was named a first growth in 1732 and is now owned by French insurer Axa.

£12, Richard Granger Wines, Newcastle

Tokaji Dry Furmint 2012

This screwcapped simply-labelled bottle was perhaps the most typical example of a dry vibrant furmint at our tasting – and good value under a tenner – popular with tasters for its fruity freshness and approachability. Hints of pear and exotic fruits on the aroma, very dry, but zesty and juicy with pronounced high acid, a touch of bitterness and a good length. Made by an award-winning winery, Tokaji Classic Winery.

 £9.50, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com

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Rose Murray Brown

Rose Murray Brown is one of only 323 Masters of Wine worldwide and is the only one to host wine courses and regular wine tastings in Scotland.

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