A '…fine, fiery grape' notes Jancis Robinson, Furmint is a white wine grape variety bound to the Tokaj region, in north-west Hungary. There it produces Tokaji, a style of wine expressed across gradients of sweetness that dictate its quality and price. At their best, Tokaji wines are scintillating; tiptoeing the precipice between exquisite balance and hedonistic sweetness. This is because of Furmint's searing acidity that sweeps its wine's sugars into a plume of persistence and great length.
Furmint is also produced in nearby bordering regions of Slovakia and Austria, where it goes by the synonym Mosler. Its late-ripening tendencies and affinity for botrytis suit the long Indian summers of this part of the world. Given Furmint's reputation for high quality wines however, complex and ageable, it is curious that the grape has barely transcended its traditional geographical limitations. The exception is South Africa where there are small amounts grown.
When sweet, Furmint is usually blended with another local grape variety, Harslevelu. However Furmint is also capable of rendering dry, eminently drinkable styles as a straight varietal expression. These wines are brisk, redolent of herbal aromas and often relatively high in alcohol by European standards, at 14-14.5 per cent. Along with the likes of Grüner Veltliner, dry Furmint wines have become a favourite on the north American sommelier circuit, particularly in the experimental hotbeds of New York and San Francisco.