Juhfark-ing Around

All jokes aside, Juhfark is a grape name that is not heard too often. Meaning “sheep’s tail”, the grape is pretty much only grown in the tiny Hungarian appellation of Somló.

Juhfark Grape
Juhfark Grape By The original uploader was Budai Zoltan at Hungarian Wikipedia (Transferred from hu.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Juhfark grape bunches grow in a distinctive cylindrical shape which recalls to mind a sheep’s tail, hence the name. The grape is early to break bud and tends to be quite high yielding. Juhfark used to be extensively grown throughout northern Hungary for this reason but soon fell out of fashion. When allowed to produce such high yields, the berries produce a neutral, high acid, uninteresting wine. However, the volcanic soils of Somló have proven to be Juhfark’s best terroir, allowing the grape to express a sense of place and varietal. As of 2008, only 358 acres of Juhfark were planted in all of Hungary, primarily in Somló, but the small amount of wine that is produced today from this grape is truly something to experience.

Juhfark acts as a direct link to experience the terroir of Somló. The nose hints at green apple/pear with a floral yet herbal character. But on the palate, the fruit disappears and the star of the show becomes the unique smokey, ash, and crushed chalk that the region is known for. Now you may think a wine like this would be difficult to pair with food but you would be mistaken! The smokiness of the wine works well with similarly smoked products like smoked almonds, speck, and salty, hard cheeses like an aged parmesan. During my most recent tasting of our 2011 Fekete Bela Juhfark, I decided to prepare a pasta enveloped with a rich sauce composed of roasted chicken, leeks, fresh peas, and creme fraiche. The savoriness of the wine, coupled with its highly acidic kick stood up to my sauce, enhancing the subtle flavors and cutting through the cream. Other perfect accompaniments would be game birds like quail, braised rabbit, and veal. There is an earthiness to the wine which would also complement sauteed mushrooms for you non-meat eaters.

So how do you Juhfark?

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