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The Slovak-Hungarian relation may not be the best, and the fact that the historic wine region of Tokaj is shared by both countries doesn’t aid the relation either. A small group of people is working to tackle all that through wine.
In December 2017, we took part in the second annual Furmint Forum, which took place in Košice, Slovakia. We were invited by the founders of the event, Peter Drotar and Vladimir Cuchran.
The Furmint Forum’s goal is to put aside the differences and celebrate the commonality through this wonderful grape. Furmint is a high acid and thin-skinned grape that is susceptible to botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This fungus infects the grape and punctures the skin, dehydrating the grape and making the sugar more concentrated. Noble rot is responsible for some of the world’s great sweet wines, including Tokaji and Sauternes from Bordeaux, France.
The Furmint Forum
There were over 30 producers present and more than 200 wines were shared with the crowd. Both dry and sweet wines were available. The majority of producers were from Hungary, specifically from the Tokaj and Somló regions. All the producers in Slovak Tokaj took part in the event.
The Forum took place in the town hall located in downtown Košice. The venue consisted of an open ballroom with a stage where a cover band performed. The live band was a nice touch, and it kept the event lively and fun. They even played well after the closing time, which was much appreciated by the crowd.
There was an option at the door to get a standard tasting glass or a Riedel Furmint wine glass. The Riedel glass is tapered in a way to aid the Furmint’s aromatics, allowing the flavors to really jump out of the glass. Kudos to the Furmint Forum for arranging this small but important detail. Too often at wine tasting events, proper glassware is not utilized. The Riedel Furmint glass greatly added to our enjoyment of the event.
The team also organized QR codes and information at each table. Scanning the QR code allowed tasters to access information about the wine and add a personal score to the wine. This is a fantastic idea as, often, we struggle to retrieve the appropriate wine specifications at wine shows.
Thoughts on Furmint Forum
We were blown away by the dedication of Peter, Vladimir, and their team. From the design of the logo, to the technology, and the quality of the producers present. The first Furmint Forum was held in a wine shop and around 100 people attended. This year, over 250 people attended. The future looks bright for the third installment of the forum.
There was a wide selection of wines available to taste. Both small and large producers were present, and they showed off a wide-range of Furmint wines. There were wines made conventionally, with minimal intervention, and even in amphora.
Nearly all the sweet Furmint wines at the show were fantastic. In general, the Slovak Tokaj wines are more oxidative in style and a little more ‘old school’ than those made across the border. Modern Hungarian sweet Tokaji are crisp and fresh, making them easier to drink when they are younger. Regardless of the style, there are excellent sweet wines being made in both countries.
Furmint has limitless potential. We can’t wait to see what wines are on display next year.
Exotic Wine Travel’s Picks
(You can find out more about our scoring system on the START HERE page.)
- Majaros, Aygagy Furmint 2013 – Tokaj, Hungary
The Majaros Aygagy Furmint is a single-vineyard dry Furmint. It’s barrel fermented and aged in oak. Majaros is a small producer and the two wines we tasted from them exemplify refined winemaking. This wine is full-bodied and full of flint, mineral, fire, white peach, and white pear. It’s round on the palate and the acidity is under control for Furmint. 4.3/5
- Erzsébet Pincé, Király dülö Furmint 2016 – Tokaj, Hungary
The Erszebét Pincé Király dülö Furmint is a barrel fermented dry Tokaji from the Old King’s Vineyard, a historical Grand Cru site in Mád. It’s full-bodied with perfect wood integration and full of smoke, white fruit, white pear flavors with a long finish. It was our personal favorite among the dry wines present at the Furmint Forum. 4.4/5
- Tornai, Apátsági Furmint Top Selection 2009 – Somló, Hungary
The Somló hill is an extinct volcano that rises above the Hungarian plains. It’s one of Hungary’s smallest regions with around 400 hectares of vineyards. The Tornai Apátsági Furmint Top Selection is barrel fermented and aged for one year. This is stinky (in a good way) and smoky with campfire, bruised pineapple, and bruised apple flavors. The wine is full bodied with high acidity. An intriguing and mineral-driven wine. Somló wines can be quite divisive, not everyone will like them but they are always interesting. 4.3/5
- J&J Ostrožovič, Saturnia Furmint 2013 – Tokaj, Slovakia
J&J Ostrožovič is one of the big players in Slovak Tokaj. This is a Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) wine aged in the barrel for three months. Flavors include fall leaves, honey, smoke, stewed fruits, and dried apricots. It has the honey and cotton candy flavors from noble rot. It’s also nutty and and has a fiery finish. Not a typical sweet Tokaji but delicious nonetheless. 4.1/5
- Disznókö, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2009 – Tokaj, Hungary
The Disznókö Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos is rich and luscious. This has everything that makes modern sweet Tokaji wonderful to drink. The wine is full of smoke, lemon, white pear, fig, and cedar notes. The wine is fresh with fiery acidity that washes the mouth clean. It has the ability to age in the long term but it’s lip-smackingly delicious now. 4.4/5
A special thank you to Hotel Ambassador for hosting us for a few days. The hotel was situated at a convenient location and the room was confortable. Also, thank you Visit Košice for arranging our visits to the local restaurants. We had a blast eating our way through Košice as you can see in the video below.
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