With February approaching furmint is trending in the press, there is a palpable excitement surrounding the variety and it is more frequently ordered in restaurants and opened at home. In case you haven’t noticed Furmint February is on our doorstep, and we are celebrating the 2nd International Furmint Day on February 1!
An agency conducting data based online analyses has published a survey at the end of last year showing that the most often referred to white grape variety on Hungarian sites is furmint. They have also conducted a quality analysis going beyond the mere number of instances when furmint was mentioned. Their research has shown that among the most popular varieties it was wines made of furmint that had the highest rate of favourable opinions.
When in 2010 Dániel Kézdy launched the Furmint February movement – an idea he had been nursing for a long time -, the variety was still lingering in the shadows. The concept of Furmint February was groundbreaking also in the sense that no one before thought of dedicating a whole month to a single variety. Fortunately the reception was favourable among winemakers, restaurants, wine bars and most of all wine lovers. Their commitment has not waned over the years. "From what I see the growth in Tokaj sales is fueled by dry wines most of all by furmint. The legendary 2000 Királyudvar Úrágya Furmint caused a seismic shift in the appreciation of the variety and a growing number of wineries are consciously exploring the potential of their vineyards, a process that can only benefit wine lovers as it opens up the way to discovering new terroirs and exquisite wines."
Head of Sales at Szent Tamás Vineyards and Winery, Kornél Cseke has similar views: "Szent Tamás has been on the market since 2009 with seven vintages under our belt by now. We started out with a new model: besides our estate grown grapes we vinify purchased grapes constantly monitoring the quality. Our Mád Furmint is made from these purchased grapes and the wine not only reflects the variety but to a degree also the characteristics of the Mád vineyards. Our portfolio is mostly made up of dry wines with the aim of showing our special terroirs. In our experience consumers both abroad and domestically have turned towards dry wines. Our precise and easy to understand wines have proved to be a great success. Mád Furmint which at the moment is available in 28 countries worldwide provides a window onto the Tokaj wine region and our hometown. Market growth is extremely dynamic, in the early days we were producing 20 thousand bottles, today we produce twenty times more."
It’s too early to call furmint the next big thing, but there is a palpable buzz around furmint which in turn is reflected in an increased demand for the variety in restaurants and wine bars. Sándor Bánki, the franchise owner of DiVino wine bars shares this view: "We have a lot of foreign visitors and it’s great being able to offer them at last a variety we can truly call our own. What we see is that furmint has entered the list of varieties foreign wine lovers are eager to taste when they come to Hungary. In that respect it’s a pleasure to work with furmint as it is a variety that can be vinified in so many different ways. Our recommendations are always carefully considered. To guests who are less well-versed in wine we recommend lighter, fresher furmints which are ideal to accompany casual conversations. To appreciate more substantial styles of furmint one needs to have more experience and this is something we must be able to pick up because our goal is to make this variety more popular and a really great furmint is not necessarily a wine easy to understand and often it needs food to show its true colours. We have been participating in the events of Furmint February from the very beginning, and this year we are hosting a Furmint Party which will coincide with the International Furmint Day on February 1. Our mission is to champion Hungarian wine and furmint is one of the country’s most important varieties.”
The ninth annual Furmint February offers the most comprehensive range of events so far. There will be more than 100 wineries participating at the Big Furmint February Tasting at Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park of Budapest on February 1. Having drawn sizeable crowds in recent years the tasting events in Miskolc, Debrecen and Mád also have something new to offer visitors.
There is a new event venue making its debut this year: Köveskál in the Káli Basin. On February 23-24 a whole weekend will be dedicated to Balaton furmints with workshops in three different locations and local restaurants will be offering dishes specifically created to match furmint.