Furmint is, of course, the main grape in the production of Tokaj, the unctuous sweet wine from Hungary. However, that country does not have the monopoly on this grape. It is grown in other nearby countries, Austria being one of them. Heidi Schröck was one of the pioneers that reintroduced the grape and now produces some of the best Furmint wines in the world. Her dry Furmint is elegant and filled with spice and quince. Her sweet Furmint and blends incorporating Furmint are truly astonishing and need to be tasted to be believed. I would urge everyone to become a believer.
Furmint originates in Hungary with the first references found in documents from the late sixteenth century. It is no surprise that it comes from the Tokaj region whose eponymous wines have made it famous and given so much pleasure. Other origins have been suggested but are without substance.
Furmint is related to Gouais Blanc and therefore to a vast number of well-known varieties such as Chardonnay and Riesling. It is a parent of the other main grape in Tokaji wines, Hárslevelü and the Swiss Plantscher.
With its somewhat low yield, the variety is considered difficult in the vineyard and was not always appreciated. It needs good sites with deep soils. It is sensitive during the flowering period and sensitive to late frost. It brings inconsistent yields.
Like many other grape varieties, the facts behind its origins are not easily confirmed. One theory suggests that cuttings were offered by a grape collector called Saint-Laurent du Var while another that it comes from Alsace, where it was known as Schwarzer. Although it shares its name with a number of French villages, there is nothing to suggest that they had anything to do with the naming of this grape. Most likely is the idea mentioned above that it was named after the patron saint of chefs, whose patronal festival coincides with the traditional day on which the berries change colour. It is one of the first grapes planted at the monastery of Klosterneuburg in their experimental vineyard in 1863.
If you are a fan of Zweigelt, remember that in 1922 Fritz Zweigelt combined the Sankt Laurent grape with Blaüfrankisch to create Zweigelt. It is a very good parent indeed.
It is not however closely related to Pinot. Sankt Laurent is not the same as Pinot Saint-Laurent. Although Sankt Laurent is not Pinot Noir, any more than Carménère is Merlot, there are some similarities to be found. If you like a meatier, gamier Pinot Noir, try this – you will not be disappointed!
ophisticated wine with a lingering finish that continues to delight for ages. It pairs well with most food, especially meats and as many commentators advise, those foods which you shouldn’t really eat like barbeques, cheese and anything fatty.