Today, I’d like to celebrate the weird and the wonderful by recommending a couple of highly unusual white wines.
First up, is the Ma’d Dry Furmint 2013 from the Szent Tamás winery in the Tokaji region of Hungary. Wine producers in Tokaji are world renowned for fashioning exceptional dessert wines from the Furmint grape variety but, as its name makes clear, the Ma’d Dry Furmint is a dry departure from the area’s sweet winemaking traditions.
The Szent Tamás winery was founded by 2 Hungarian businessmen and the son of Hungary’s most famous and influential producer- Istevan Szepsy. The partners firmly believe that the village of Ma’d is one of the great wine producing areas of the world and they’re convinced that the village’s volcanic vineyards are extremely well suited to the production of top quality dry white wines. Having sampled their superb wares, I can only agree.
Currently, the winery has access to 15 hectares of old vines in 9 different areas. The land consists of many plots operated by small scale growers and quality is ensured by paying the growers well above market rate for all grapes that meet the winery’s exacting standards.
Stylistically, The Ma’d Dry Furmint 2013 lies somewhere between a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France and a classic Chablis. It’s a refreshing wine that expresses both the varietal character of Furmint and the inherent minerality of the vineyards of Mád village. It’s well-structured and well balanced with a wonderfully elegant blend of apricot and peach flavours and warming undertones of ginger spice. To enjoy it at its best, pair it with roast pork.
My second wine recommendation, is also the result of a famous grape variety – Sangiovese, in this instance – being vinified in a highly innovative way by visionary winemakers.
Sangiovese is the dominant red grape variety in the Tuscan region of Chianti in central Italy. Local wine laws allow Sangiovese to be blended with up to 25% of other grape varieties but many producers choose to construct their Chiantis entirely of Sangiovese. Unsurprisingly, only one producer, at least to my knowledge, has ever had the inspired lateral thought, “Why don’t we take Chianti’s signature red grape variety, Sangiovese, and turn it into a white wine?”
The producer in question is Tenuta Fertuna and, given that its name is in itself an inventive combination of fertility (fertus) and fortune, it was probably only to be expected that the winery would come up with such a leftfield Sangiovese scheme.
Established in 1997, Tenuta Fertuna is situated in the heart of the Maremma region Of Tuscany. The Tenuta consists of approximately 50 hectares of vineyards and faces, for about 1Km, the path of “Antica Via Aurelia.” This was the path traced by the Romans in 3rd century B.C. that allowed Rome to establish and consolidate its rule.
Fertuna’s white wine made from the Sangiovese grape is called Droppello Toscana Bianca and it was created in order to make an accessible white wine available to Tuscan wine drinkers. Thankfully, they’ve let us have some and it’s now available to UK wine drinkers as well.
The Droppello Toscana Bianca, Fertuna 2014 is the current vintage of the wine and it has intense, but delicate, aromas of garden herbs and white fruits. On the palate, the wine is fresh, dry and minerally, with a pleasant delicacy and a good persistence. With its delicate nature and an ABV of only 12%, the wine is great to drink on its own but it’s also really good with seafood or roast chicken in a creamy sauce.