The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 59 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  59 Sauvignon Blanc, weightier than a Grüner Veltliner, and more expressive than a Pinot Grigio; most importantly, it pairs wells with hearty salads while also standing up to the Balboa's classic burger and fries. MÁD Furmint reached the Balboa Café as part of the Vinum Tokaj International's wine promotion pro- gram. Attila Balla, President of Vinum Tokaj, and Eniko" Magyar, Project Director for Wines of Excellence, have worked together to introduce the little-known—until now—Furmint to the U.S. wine community with support from MÁD's North American distribu- tor Southern Glazer's. The Future of Furmint Furmint makes up more than 70 percent of plantings in Hungary's Tokaj region, and 90 percent of the 10,000 acres devoted to the grape—including six single vineyard sites of Grand Cru quality—can be found within two hours of the capital city of Budapest. While the wine is a long-revered staple in its home country, dry Furmint was just introduced to the U.S. market in 2017. Produced by the Szent Tamás Winery in the village of Mád, the MÁD Furmint provides a perfect point of entry to the wider range of styles produced from this versatile grape. Recent DNA profiling identified the variety as a natural crossing between the once-widespread Gouais Blanc and an extinct local cultivar. While Furmint shares its Gouais Blanc parentage and adaptability with both Chardonnay and Riesling, the grape's structure and intriguing mineral expression decisively sets it apart. According to Tamás Nagy, Szent Tamás' Wine Educator and Marketing Manager, MÁD Furmint's mineral- ity can be attributed largely to the region's layered sedimentary and metamorphic soils rich in bentonite, rhyolite (compressed volcanic ash), and andozite. "The vines take up minerals from the groundwater, which is a rich solution of ionized minerals," Nagy says. Because the grape lends itself to reductive, oaked-aged, and late-harvest wine styles, Furmint can satisfy as both a commune-level wine for everyday enjoyment or a stand-in for a single- vineyard white Burgundy. While Furmint wines like those produced by Szent Tamás account for less than 5 percent of Tokaj's total production, they're gaining recognition as more varieties from Cru sites enter the market. The ferrous soils of the winery's eponymous Szent Tamás vineyard east of Mád are a composite of red clay, zeolite, rhyolite, and quartzite and earned Cru-quality classification in the early 18th century; fragments of obsidian, pumice, and perlite further enrich them with trace elements and minerals. While we don't judge the quality of any wine based solely on technical analysis, mineral expression and struc- ture are Furmint's calling cards. With the addition of this grape, which stands tall next to world-class dry varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris, sommeliers and chefs have created pairing menus and opted for cuisines that match the character of the crisp, refreshing natural acidity in these wines. With the MÁD Dry Furmint getting rave reviews at the Balboa, Fogarty and Caetano are introducing their wine-savvy patrons, many of whom are already familiar with the region's sweeter wine styles, to the expressive Szent Tamás single vineyard wine for the first time. "If you enjoy world-class white wines, it won't be long after trying a dry Furmint before you're wondering what else it has to say," says Caetano. This team is MÁD about Furmint (left to right): Jesse Caetano, General Manager of Balboa Café; Attila Balla, President of Vinum Tokaj International; Károly Kovács, Co-Owner of Szent Tamás Winery; Eniko˝ Magyar, Project Director of Wines of Excellence; Antoinette Cattani, U.S. Sales Manager for MÁD Wines; and Tamás Nagy, Wine Educator and Marketing Manager for Szent Tamás Winery. Jesse Caetano, General Manager of Balboa Café, enjoys a glass of Szent Tamás Furmint.

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