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I am a big fan of the dry Furmints that have been emerging from Tokaji in eastern Hungary. This grape has the most exciting combination of nerve, fire and ageing ability. And although the botrytised sweet wines it is most famous for can be wonderful, these dry wines show that this is not the whole story.
What I didn't realise was that Furmint was the dominant grape variety in what is now eastern Slovenia, too, until 1823 when an Austro-Hungarian Archduke decreed that international varieties should be planted in Štajerska Slovenija (Styrian Slovenia). Was he way ahead of his time? Or should he have predicted the early-21st-century vogue for indigenous varieties and left well alone? Either way, Furmint is clearly very much at home here. Even today, under its Slovenian name Šipon, it is the region's second most planted variety after Welschriesling (which older readers will associate with Ljutomer).
Dveri Pax is heavily influenced by Austria's Styria, which is just over the border to the north, and is a thoroughly modernised producer based on the holdings of the 12th-century Benedictine monastery in Jarenina.
Dveri Pax Šipon 2011 Štajerska Slovenija is a delightful mix of history (as in Austro-Hungarian history) and the most modern of winemaking. It is ultra-sleek and fresh and when you first smell it you may wonder whether it isn't just another cool-fermented white, but in the glass it really takes on weight, fire and pungency, while finishing appetisingly dry. Residual sugar in this 2011 from an early warm vintage is 2.7g/l and alcohol is a Symon Brown-friendly (visitors to our forum will know what I mean) 13.5%. There is no hurry to drink this, wine which is just coming into its prime. I'd keep it up to three years, which is unusual for a wine at this price.
I tasted both cork-stoppered and screwcapped versions and much preferred the precision of the latter, about which I wrote, ' Screwcapped version in a bordeaux shaped bottle (cf the cork stoppered version with 0.5% less alcohol in a burgundy shaped bottle). Smoky, pungent nose with real tension and apparent potential. More energy than the cork-stoppered version. Smoky, just off dry. Elderflower notes.'
In the UK, The Wine Society (whose image this is) sell this Decanter silver-medal-winning wine at £9.95 but you can also find it in Germany, Austria,, Switzerland and, of course Slovenia. It was much enjoyed by WSET graduates in Hong Kong last week.
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