From $16.49, 4,800 forints
This Hungarian dry white is so stunningly delicious, and so utterly autumnal (sorry, Australians), that I am making it my wine of the week even though according to wine-searcher.com it is on sale only in the US and Hungary. It at least seems to be widely available on both east and west coasts of the US, and New York importer Polaner Selections seems to have it well distributed in restaurants there too.
I first came across it being served by the glass on Juliette Pope’s admired wine list at Gramercy Tavern, where I was captivated by its combination of nerve, density and strong quince flavour. It stood up beautifully to a trio of artful vegetable dishes of the sort that New York chefs are currently so taken with. My cauliflower cappelletti, grapes, capers and American caviar was a fine example but the wine also took on a platter of beautifully grilled and dressed autumn vegetables and stuffed onions (I’m sure the menu description of this last dish was much more poetic).
And then there was the wine again on the wine list at the newish next-door wine bar of Le Bernardin’s Austrian sommelier Aldo Sohm. He also lists Szepsy’s more expensive 2011 dry Furmint , which I’m sure is now coming into its own. But I just couldn’t wait to taste the beautifully balanced Királyudvar 2012 again, so three of us shared a bottle of it with more veg (beet salad with a Peruvian dressing, whole baked cauliflower and roast maitake mushroom with soy, ginger and sesame) and the speciality charcuterie ‘tower’. Our waitress, the delightful Mlle Vayron from Ch Bourgneuf in Pomerol, was as enthusiastic as me about the charms of the Királyudvar Furmint Sec 2012. The name Királyudvar means ‘king’s court’, I’m told.
It would have been made at the Hwang family’s Tokaj winery (pictured below) soon after the big split with Noel Pinguet , the long-standing winemaker at their more famous wine property, Domaine Huet in Vouvray, acquired in 2003 (see Domaine Huet sold and Huet family Vouvrays ).
According to Polaner’s background notes, the Hwangs initially bought 10 ha of vineyards in Tokaj in 1997 around the villages of Mád and Bodrogkeresztúr and now own a total of 75 ha of land (much work for the lawyers, I’m sure) throughout southern Tokaj, divided among six main vineyards: Lapis, Henye, Percze (pictured above), Becsek, Danczka and Nyulászó. They have been making a dry Furmint since 2005.
This 2012 is a blend of the legal minimum of 85% Furmint with 15% of the other main Tokaj grape Hárslevelű. Biodynamically grown grapes are hand picked, pressed and fermentation takes place with ambient yeast in 500-litre barrels made of Hungarian oak. A total of 2,000 cases were made, apparently, and I would wager that the majority of them have been shipped to the US, where the Hwang family are based.
I’m sorry this particular wine seems to be available only in the US and Hungary. See this earlier wine of the week with a recommended alternative 2012 dry Furmint that is currently available, costing slightly less and rather less intense, in the UK, Canada and Hong Kong.