Back in 2012 we attended the 3rd ever Furmint February tasting event in Budapest founded by Dániel Kézdy. There were 55 producers attending. At that point, I couldn’t name more than 10 producers and had tasted far less. It was equal parts significantly humbling and exciting. This year, there are 104 producers attending. The growth is clear and it’s quality driven. In 2012 Blue Danube had 2 producers with Furmint, now we have 15 and counting.
Furmint February and Furmint Day (Feb 1st) are also not limited to this tasting, but a celebration of Furmint all month, all over Hungary, and beyond. It should be said that Furmint is also produced in Slovenia (Šipon), Slovakia, Germany, Croatia (Šipon/Moslavac), South Africa, Serbia, Romania, Austria (Mosler), Crimea and even a little bit right here in California just to name just a few. However, the commercial hub and linkage to national wine identity is most pronounced in Hungary. Hungarians sing about Tokaj in their National Anthem where Furmint is the most planted grape.
Additionally, I also believe that Furmint captures the volcanic nature of Hungary. Above and beyond the thermal baths and killer mineral water, volcanic terroir runs through most of the country, not just Tokaj. A rant I’m fond of stumbling into is while there is well deserved hype over volcanic appellations like the Canary Islands, Santorini, Sicily and so on, Hungary (and others in the volcanic Pannonian basin) are rarely a part of that conversation.
Furmint, with its naturally high acidity, ability to attain high sugar levels, and ability to find balance with botrytis, is an ideal grape to embody the salt, smoke and density from these volcanic soils. Add to this that Furmint can do this as a dry, off dry, sparkling, oxidative, flor aged, reductive, and make perhaps the best botritzed sweet wines in the world and there’s reason we have 15 producers and counting.
So please let February be an excuse to join the wine communities of Central Europe and celebrate a grape that deserves attention. The wines are also delicious.