Zoltan Demeter Tokaji Furmint 2005
Because the Tokaj-Heryalja region in northeast Hungary is world renowned for its
super-sweet Tokaji wines, made mainly from the Furmint grape, it is easy to forget that the
region and the grape also produce an excellent range of dry, still wines. For those white wine
drinkers who may be looking for some variety, a good dry white Tokaji Furmint may be just
the ticket. This wine has fruit, playful acidity, and a nice mineral touch.
Winemaker Zoltan Demeter studied the wine trade in the United States, the UK and France before becoming one of Hungary's most respected oenologists, responsible for production at Tokaj-Hetszolo and Grof Degenfeld Estates. On his own account, Demeter produces this dry Tokaji Furmint ($18 retail), along with a late harvest semi-sweet dessert wine and the kind of fully-sweet Tokaji that still causes delight among both wine connoisseurs and dentists the world round.
The Demeter dry Furmint, though sweet only in terms of the ripeness of its fruit, yet hints of the sugary glories of the region and the grape. I've had my knuckles rapped in wine school for calling a wine golden; so be it, this wine is an abiding golden color, clear and clean as they come. Fragrant aromatic notes are fairly direct: lemon zest, white peach, a drop of honey, a clear minerality.
Though this is the type of wine you really ought to stop and taste, it is also eminently
quaffable. The white peach and citrus zest continue on the palate, but these share space with
tropical fruit (a fine pineapple in particular), another touch of honey, ripe apple, and an herbal
freshness that brings chamomile to mind. The minerality weaves around a fairly impish
acidity (this is the same abiding acidity that gives such long life to the sweet version). The
finish, long enough, clears the palate rather nicely.
Hungarian wines are accessible to the American palate and yet offer something a little different.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman