One never knows what sorts of wines will show up at one of our blind tasting sessions. The prize among the 4 white whites we tasted in a late session proved to be a superbly rich, aromatic mouth coating wine from Hungary. A dry wine made from Hungary’s native white wine grape called Fermint. Fermint is as important to Hungary as Gruner Veltliner is to Austria, Semillon to Sauternes and Chenin Blanc to the center of the Loire Valley. Many people associate Hungary with its great sweet wines which are from the district of Tokaji. But the truth is that this very district can produce altogether successful dry whites—just as Riesling can in Germany and Chenin Blanc in Vouvray. Fermint is indeed one of only 4 grapes that work beautifully as a source of both dry and sweet wines. The first striking feature of the wine was the delightful aroma of peaches just entering the stage of full ripeness. This was balanced by citrus overtones which clued us into the fact that this would be a wine of rich fruit but finish dry. The lushness and fruit concentration were immediately apparent on the palate. So was the range and size of the wine which occupied all the corners of the mouth but without being heavy. The label reads 12.5% alcohol which is delightfully moderate in this era of 14+% white and red wines. The acidity was sufficiently high to keep all that luxurious fruit anchored and centered. This is the sort of wine which can be drunk all by itself: Its sensory qualities do not demand food. But should you be so inclined, this luscious dry white will work handsomely with a wide range of non-Japanese Asian cuisines, with roasted Pork, herbed chicken and salty cheeses. For those of you who are interested, the estate is owned by the Domaine Huet, perhaps the greatest white wine estate in Vouvray. The affinity betweenTokaji and Vouvray was apparent in every sip of this singular wine. The price? Almost absurdly inexpensive given the quality of the wine.
Bob Millman, New York Vintners
Hungary • Tokaj • Furmint, Hárslevelü