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Furmint - Pinot Blanc - Weinbau Urban

Furmint - Pinot Blanc - Weinbau Urban

Pinot Blanc, Weißburgunder, Fehér Burgundi, Pinot Branco, Pinot Bianco – many names for the same grape depending on where you find it.

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.

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Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Gris, itself a mutation of Pinot Noir. On the vine it looks remarkably similar to Chardonnay. It is usually made into dry or sparkling wines but especially in Austria can make some excellent early Trockenbeernauslese. On the nose it can be floral or perfumed with hints of apple and sometimes tropical fruits. The fruit remains on the palate and there is a much longer finish than you might expect from a white wine. Of course the sweeter wines incorporate qualities that you might expect from that style.

I have asked winemakers a few times why they chose "Pinot Blanc" or "Weissburgunder" and whether they were for marketing or cultural reasons. Usually the answer has been "It looked better on the label that way".

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